Conceived by Amsterdam-based French businessman Laurent Lenne (left) and designed by Dr Martin Fischer, the GC32 is a 10m long (12m including bowsprit) by 6m wide foiling catamaran, that is one of the world’s fastest racing yachts. It is aimed at both pro-sailing teams and private owners looking to experience the latest in ultra-high performance racing and a level of sailing boat technology – albeit simplified – typically only available to America’s Cup teams.
The first GC32 catamarans went sailing in Dubai, close to its builders Premier Composite Technologies, towards the end of 2012.
Three boats competed at the GC32s’ initial European season in 2013, the class making its race debut at Allianz Traunsee Woche in Austria.
For the first season the boats competed with their Mk1 foil package comprising a ‘double S’ configuration main foil/daggerboard and L-profile rudder. These were designed to reduce displacement, but not to cause the GC32 to fly.
Inspired by the AC72s catamarans used in the 34th America’s Cup that fly above, rather than through, the water, the GC32 was fitted with its Mk2 foils in the spring of 2014. This transformed the GC32 into a fully flying foiling catamaran.
While the GC32 shares many similarities with the foiling America’s Cup catamarans, free from AC rule constraints it is a ‘better foiler’. The foil package and boat set up enables it to be sailed not just elite athletes but by sailors of varying experience, enabling amateur sailors and owners to experience the very latest technology in high performance yacht racing.
Being a one design enables the GC32 to be substantially cheaper than an America’s Cup catamaran. While in many ways it resembles a scaled-down version, the GC32 is very much easier to sail and to run because:
Today there are GC32s regularly sailing in Europe, North America and Australasia. Boats compete on the GC32 Racing Tour, which in 2019 comprised a series of five events in southern Europe and Oman, each event lasting four days with a practice race day beforehand. Until 2018 GC32s also competed in the Extreme Sailing Series but following its demise the two fleets consolidated on the GC32 Racing Tour for 2019. 2020 saw a cancelled season due to the world’s COVID-19 pandemic but is back for 2021 with a shortened four event season in Lagos, Portugal, Sardinia for the GC32 World Championship and Mar Menor for the first time.
The GC32s typically compete on America’s Cup-style courses with reaching or upwind starts (if conditions are light or heavy). Races are short, but the courses long enough for the foiling catamarans to reach their full speed potential. The GC32 Racing Tour is designed to provide the ‘best foiling experience’ with a choice of venues aimed at providing optimum conditions to go foiling and top racing for all competitors as a result.
The circuit, like the GC32 itself, is aimed at attracting professional and owner-driver teams. For the former there are both onboard and shore-based guest programs while the GC32’s media team communicates about and promotes the racing via television, photography, social media, press and direct mailing.
The racing is run by well known international PRO and successful yacht racer Stuart Childerley and has its own on the water umpire team and safety officer.
Length (overall): 12.00m
Length (hull): 10.00m
Weight: 975 kg
Draft (boards down): 2.10m
Draft (rudder): 1.60m
Mast height (above deck): 16.50m
Bowsprit length: 6.60m