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Fraser gets to grips with ‘exhilarating’ boat

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Speed merchant: Fraser at full tilt in the M32 catamaran during last month’s M32 training camp in Chicago

Lance Fraser took full advantage of the opportunity to get an early feel for the M32 catamaran that could potentially replace the International One Design in the Argo Group Gold Cup next year.

Fraser, who is ranked 70th in the ISAF Open Match Racing rankings, was among five skippers chosen to participate in last month’s M32 Youth Training Academy at the Chicago Match Race Centre.

“It was the most exhilarating sailing that I’ve ever done,” Fraser said. “They are simple enough that you can learn to sail them pretty quickly, but every little mistake costs you a lot in boat speed and it keeps the entire team on their toes all the time. They reward teamwork and fitness and are just so fun and awesome to sail.”

The two-day training camp, which took place between August 24 and 25, was jointly organised by Chicago Match Race Centre, M32 North America and US One Sailing was designed to aid young sailors, such as Fraser, in acquiring their M32 licence to compete in M32 qualifiers and World Match Racing Tour events.

Gold Cup winner Taylor Canfield, who leads the M32 Scandinavian Series, was among the coaching staff at the camp that also included US One sailing colleagues Hayden Goodrick and Rikki McGarvie.

After the announcement of Aston Harald AB’s acquisition of the ISAF-sanctioned World Match Racing Tour in June, there has been a shift in emphasis towards high-performance M32 catamaran for next year’s championship. This year’s Gold Cup could be the last involving the International One Design racing sloop.

The Stena Match Cup has already announced that it will be raced in new M32 multihulls and James Pleasance, the executive director of the World Match Racing Tour, has made clear his ambition to extend use of the M32 across more events on the series, including the Gold Cup.

“I really love racing the Gold Cup in IODs and have a dream of winning that event the way that I’ve grown up sailing it,” Fraser said. “As much as I will hate to see the IODs go, it wouldn’t be right if the Gold Cup wasn’t a pinnacle part of the professional Match Racing circuit and I think that if we don’t make the switch to M32s that could happen.

“The M32s are great, fast and exciting boats and I think everyone in Bermuda will appreciate them if we do end up sailing them in the Gold Cup. Seeing those boats racing around Hamilton Harbour will just be another amazing addition to an already amazing Bermuda sailing environment with the America’s Cup. It’s an exciting time for Bermuda sailing.”

At least one M32 catamaran, which are made of carbon fibre, will be on display at next month’s Gold Cup.