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An interview with Dave Doucett on the M32 World Championship 2021

by David Schmidt 11 Nov 2021 08:00 PST November 15-21, 2021
M32s in action in February 2020, right before the world changed © Felipe Juncadella / Up Top Media

When Göran Marström designed the lines for the M32 catamaran, he likely didn't imagine that the 32-foot speedster would be used to win the Race to Alaska, but that's exactly what Randy Miller, Ian Andrewes, and Colin Dunphy (AKA Team MAD Dog Racing) pulled off in 2016 when they claimed the R2AK's $10,000 cash purse. Impressively, they covered the 710-nautical-mile-leg from Victoria, British Columbia to Ketchikan, Alaska in three days, 20 hours and 13 minutes, passing desolate beaches that are regularly patrolled by grizzly bears.

Impressively, Team MAD Dog Racing beat the next boat—Team Skiff Foundation Jungle Kitty (a fast and well-sailed Fox 44 monohull)—across the finishing line by more than 16 hours.

And what, exactly, does the adventure-minded R2AK have to do with the 2021 M32 Worlds or the active One Design class that regularly offers high-level racing in North America and Europe? Precisely nothing, except to serve as an example of how fast these high-performance catamarans are when unleashed in off-piste conditions.

When raced One Design, as they often are thanks to the class' active leadership and engaged membership, starting lines, mark roundings, tactics, and—conditions depending—boathandling can get downright sporty.

Better still, M32s are an owner-driver class, so while there are plenty of professional sailors involved, there's also opportunity for high-level Corinthian teams and skippers to trade tacks with some of the world's fastest sailors.

The M32 World Championship 2021 is set to unfurl on the waters off of Miami, Florida, from November 15-21. I checked in Dave Doucett, director of the M32 class in North America, via email, to learn more about this high-octane world-championship regatta.

Can you please tell us a bit about the M32 class, its culture, and the kinds of teams that one can expect to find at a world championship level regatta?

We call the M32 fleet one big family. We run our events independently from other racing events.

The racing on the water is pretty intense, but everyone is quite social back at the dock. The M32 is a One Design owner-driver class with 20+ teams actively racing.

We anticipate 13 teams in Miami at the [this year's] Worlds. The M32 attracts some of the top pros. More importantly, it attracts aspiring pros who have then gone onto the AC and SailGP-type events.

Weather-wise, what kind of conditions can sailors expect to encounter off of Miami, Florida, in mid-November? What are the best-case and worst-case weather scenarios?

We ran a trial event in 2019 during the same week that we will run the Worlds this year, November 18-21. We were treated to fantastic conditions on Biscayne Bay, 12 to 17 knots and flat water.

Do you see local knowledge playing a big or small role in the regatta's outcome? Can you please explain?

Teams are learning that crew consistency from event to event gets you on the podium.

This season will be our seventh year racing in Miami, so all [teams] have lots of knowledge on the water, so I don't see an edge with that...

However, the local nightlife in Miami can definitely take you out of podium contention the next day, so knowing how to manage that will be key.

If you could offer one piece of advice to visiting (and local) teams, what would it be?

The M32 World Championship consists of the Pre-Worlds and the Worlds.

In total, that is, six days of racing, plus most teams will practice two to four days, [so] that is a marathon of high-speed sailing. Teams will need to train and attack the event with that mindset.

Do you have any teams that you are eyeing for podium finishes? What about any dark horses who you think could prove to be fast, once the starting guns begin sounding?

Don Wilson and Team Convexity have played the role of F1's Lewis Hamilton winning the last Worlds and [they] have been dominant in previous summer- and winter-series events.

Pieter Taselaar and Team Bliksem look to play the role of [F1's] Max Verstappen. Both are Dutch, and Blikesem was second at the last Worlds.

Jen Wilson is back after taking a break from sailing, but their team Convergence is lethal in light air.

In the end, I think it will come down to the last race of the Worlds with four to five teams in the hunt.

What kind of courses will the event employ? Are we talking wind-ward leewards, or do you guys use different shapes and angles? Also, what are the starts like?

We run a similar setup as SailGP with a reaching start and windward and leeward gates.

The target race time is 16-17 minutes.

The starts are full-on, with 13 M32s jockeying for position and accelerating to 17 to 20 knots.

We look to run 15-17 races for the Worlds.

Obviously organizing and running a big regatta amidst a still-churning pandemic isn't easy. Can you tell us about the biggest logistical and organizational hurdles that you've had to clear to make this happen?

We had a target of 20 M32s at this year's event. However, with travel still limited, 13 [teams] is the reality.

We have four additional Miami winter series events from January through April [2022], and look to add teams as we progress through the season.

US Sailing has been a great partner in getting international teams and crew to the start line. We have a well-developed C-19 event play book which has been effective.

Can you tell us about any efforts that you and the other regatta organizers have made to try to lower the regatta's environmental footprint or otherwise green-up the regatta?

Running a green event is now the norm. If a sailor walked down the dock with single-use water bottles, [other] teams would tell [that person] to go back to 2010.

That being said, we always look to improve our footprint.

This past year, we switched to all-electric Marksetbots, eliminating one to two powerboats [that were used for] setting marks. In addition, we have all of the event documentation virtual.

Is there anything else that you'd like to add, for the record?

The M32 is a One Design class that is high-speed and competitive, but has a fun owner-driver group. We have demo boats available this winter, with a pro coach.

Come join the family.

N.B., Anyone interested in learning more about the M32 class can reach Mr. Doucett at

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