The GC32 Racing Tour comes to Palma de Mallorca this week with a host of watch brands in tow, either as team sponsors or, in the case of Anonimo Watches, as official timekeeper. One team, however, has a watch brand as its title sponsor: Armin Strom Sailing Team, skippered by Flavio Marazzi, a friend of Armin Strom’s owner Serge Michel, sports the manufacturer’s logo on the mainsail of its foiling catamaran.
There is little need to go over the reasons why watch brands associate themselves with the GC32 Racing Tour. This single-design racing circuit brings the thrill of America’s Cup racing to small teams and owner-drivers at a fraction of the multi-million dollar budgets of the America’s Cup teams. Everything is geared towards keeping costs down, from the design of the catamarans (which can be disassembled and transported in a trailer that can be towed by a regular SUV) to the choice of the events, which are concentrated around the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea. The proof of its success is that the majority of entrants at this week’s Copa del Rey Mapfre are owner-drivers, privately backed teams whose owners can enjoy the thrill of racing these high-speed yachts, which are considered the equivalent of Formula 1 on water.
Discussing of both balance springs brings us neatly into something known as a resonance clutch spring. It is the elaborately shaped steel spring that is attached to the balance springs. What it really does is that it provides a mechanical link to both balance springs, allowing force to be transmitted from you to another as they seek to maintain equilibrium and conquer in tandem.The motion is Armin Strom’s Calibre ARF15, which actually uses two full going trains to attain the resonance effect. It is a hand-wound movement created out of 226 components and features a fairly good power reserve of 48 hours. Additionally, it oscillates at a fairly unusual rate of 25,200 beats per hour.For mepersonally, the Armin Strom Mirrored Force Resonance watch is easily Armin Strom’s most intriguing watch, and I find this brand new version in stainless steel to become even more desirable than the past. The newest Armin Strom Mirrored Force Resonance Water is limited to 50 pieces and can be priced at 54,000 Swiss francs, making it a good 13,000 Swiss francs more affordable compared to increased gold model of last year. There’s always something to be said about a new brand that really masters their craft and Armin Strom proceeds to flaunt such art with each new model. If you have been keeping up with releases from Armin Strom this year, you’ve probably had a opportunity to check out our very first hands-on with the Armin Strom Edge watch here. It is a tasteful execution of contemporary, industrial design combined with traditional finishing methods that cover what you would expect from genuine high-end watchmaking. Now, fans can feast their eyes on the brand’s latest iteration: the Armin Strom Edge Dual Barrel see in 18k rose gold.
I was lucky enough to enjoy two outings on the Armin Strom Sailing team’s GC32 catamaran a few weeks ahead of the race, as the team did a few days training in Palma de Mallorca. Each yacht includes a guest position (lying down on the netting near the bow, bearing the brunt of any waves that break over the bow), where a lucky individual can experience the thrill of the race on the boat itself.
© Ian Skellern
My first outing was with three colleagues, all native English speakers, and we were expertly coached by Alain Sign, 2016 Team GB Olympian in the 49er class. When I say “coached”, I mean that I was quickly put to work on a grinder while my colleagues sat back and enjoyed the ride. The first thing I noticed, compared with the big America’s Cup and ocean racing monohull yachts that I have also been fortunate to experience, was the intensity that comes from the agility of these boats. Manoeuvres are planned and executed in seconds and a failure to react immediately can have dramatic consequences. Sign recounted an anecdote of a skipper who did not react quickly enough when changing sides during tacking earlier this year and literally ran off the end of the yacht as he tried to change sides, because the boat turns so quickly! I was also astounded by the Olympian’s ability to “call” the wind, announcing changes of wind speed with just a few seconds warning. Rising up on to the foils and touching speeds of over 20 knots (the Armin Strom Sailing Team currently holds the speed record for this class at 41.6 knots) is an unforgettable experience and it’s easy to see how the owner-drivers get hooked on the experience.
© Ian Skellern
My second outing on the catamaran was unplanned and unexpected. Shortly before we left Mallorca, we had a second chance to accompany the team, but this time they were in proper training mode and only one person was allowed on the yacht, in the guest position. The atmosphere on board changed completely, as everyone focused solely on their role and their communication with the other team members. As the team practiced “time and distance” in a succession of test starts (the GC32 races have “reaching” starts where the boats approach the start at an angle of 90 degrees to the wind), there was a continuous countdown of seconds from a two-minute marker as the team attempted to cross an imaginary start line as close as possible to 00.00. Even in relatively light wind conditions, the tension can quickly mount as the helmsman Flavio Marazzi (who represented Switzerland at the Olympic Games in 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012) chided his team when things went wrong. In addition to your helmet and life jacket, you need a thick skin to compete on the GC32 Racing Tour.
© Ian Skellern