The past few days have seen some of the world’s biggest names in sailing fly into pretty Palma de Mallorca and the yachts’ crew make all necessary preparations to race this first, Pantaenius race in the Superyacht Cup.
And if you block out the sound of rubbing fenders and flapping ensigns, you can almost hear the low growl of 22 race-ready yachts preparing to go into battle. Moreover, one wouldn’t be surprised to see one captain ball his fist at another in mock aggression. As although the best of friends ashore, on the bay it’s about smart tactics and slick maneuverings, and it’s about who’s boss.
This 20th edition boasts an entry list as wildly varied as ever, with superyachts ranging from the 24m freshly refitted Nautor Swan Stay Calm, (she’ll be sailed hard by a super-hot racing team whom regularly sail in the TP52 class) to this year’s giant of the fleet: the 60m gaff-rigged schooner Germania Nova. This Superyacht Cup will be her very first regatta.
Aside from this being the first ever race for some very promising competitors, the Palma Bay will also be the stage for a showdown between a number of yachts who have been duking it out at previous regatta’s. For instance the 45m Saudade and the 33m Win Win have been bow-to-bow at the Loro Piana Superyacht Regatta this month. We’re sure both boats will be sailed hard and fast, determined to not give the other an inch this week.
To ensure close racing between boats of similar speed, the fleet has been divided into four classes and for the second time this year the SYC will be implementing the ORC-sy rating rule. Tested and trialled last year and freshly revised for this year’s regattas, this latest handicapping system is heavily based on objectivity and clarity. Additionally, this boat-measurement-based rating has proved itself to make for tight racing and has attracted the thumbs-up from event organisers, owners, captains, and crew.
The race committee opted for two exciting, separate courses, one for Classes A and B, and a slightly shorter one for Classes C and D. Both made the most of the superb conditions: today’s menu served up a blazing sun, bright blue sky and a great day for superyacht racing with a predicted, stable seven – eleven knots for the start line, and an even beefier 13-16 knots later in the afternoon.
Today’s first Pantaenius Race got underway at 13.05 with yachts starting off the blocks at two minute staggered intervals and saw first-timer, the 32m Sea Wave power over the line first. She was followed by offshore-racer Mari Cha III and, the Vitters built, carbon missile Inouï. The lovely 31m Gaia got off to the best start, crossing an impressive two seconds after her start time. As the front of the fleet commenced to crowd towards the third, Bahia 1 mark, showing us some real close-knit action, it was the 33m fierce racer Inouï, who had the edge on the new and improved 45m Unfurled. She rounded only 19 seconds later, while being closely followed by Baltic built beauty Win Win.
However, by the time the front runners reached the fourth mark, the 33m Win Win had managed to snatch the lead and round ahead of the award-winning Unfurled and the 45m seasoned racer Saudade.
Class C saw some equally intense action as Kiboko Dos, Tempus Fugit, Firebird and Stay Calm rounded the fourth mark with, literally, only the skinniest of seconds between them. A mere four seconds came between the leading 29m Kiboko Dos and the Frers designed 25m Stay Calm, she rounded fourth. In Class B it was the performance Perini P2 which pipped the 35m Sojana and the 45m Salperton to the post rounding the same mark.
The drama ran a little deeper in Class D where the 60m traditional gaff-rigged schooner Germania Nova headed towards the second Pantaenius mark right after her start, which meant she had to turn back to round the first Alpha mark, which set her back. The stunning classic Mariette of 1915, a regular racer, sailed a particularly solid race, banging the right corners at the right times and hitting all marks ahead of her competitors: both the aforementioned Germania Nova and the 42m Naema. She finished eight minutes and 23 seconds on corrected time before this stunning 1930s replica schooner. Mariette’s captain Charlie Wroe commented: ‘We’ve had three really good days sailing in the bay, leading up to today’s first race and it went really well. We had a good start, it was lovely sailing out there and it’s really good to see all the boats out there, powered up and going along. We’re really happy.
In Class A it was the 33m Baltic flyer Win Win who was in great form and took top slot. We’re sure the crew on this high-calibre sailing yacht will be hoping to repeat their stellar performance tomorrow. A beaming owner commented: ‘It was a great day today, although it was tough to maintain our speed against the big boats. I think we managed well but it was a fight, right up until the last minute. Saudade and Unfurled were our main competitors, just like in the Loro Piana. Saudade were ahead of us then, but we got them today. Let’s see what we can do tomorrow.
Slick crew work and smooth sailing on board the powerful P2 was good for a first Class B win finishing one minutes and 38 seconds ahead of the 35m Sojana on corrected time. In Class C it was the 27m modern classic Tempus Fugit’s day to wear the crown. She crossed the finish line two minutes and 18 seconds before first-timer Firebird, who took second.
Sponsors North Sails host today’s Happy Hour at the Regatta Bar where chilled drinks and high-spirited banter will take the edge off this first nerve-racking day on the water. A quick stop back to the yacht will allow crew to swap those quick-dry shorts for leather trousers and studded boots, as to round off day one with aplomb we’re hosting, the already much talked about 20th Anniversary Dock Party: fancy dress theme ’20 Years of Rock’. This epic evening will allow crew to release their inner Axl or Ozzy and show the rest of the fleet they rock the dance floor as much as they rule the race course.
Superyacht insurance specialists, Pantaenius, boast 40 years’ experience providing yacht insurance to owners from all over the globe. With more than 80,000 satisfied clients and 12 offices on three continents, the company is the top yacht insurance provider in Europe and a crucial key-player in the superyacht industry. We are proud to have Pantaenius, a passionate supporter of the Cup since day one, return as a race partner for this year’s Superyacht Cup.
Racing is set to continue tomorrow with the first starting signal scheduled for 13.00 and coastal courses on the cards for all classes.
by Ingrid Abery and Superyacht Cup