The Superyacht Cup Palma got into full flow today as the Pantaenius Race heralded the start of fleet racing with a course around a sun-soaked Palma Bay.
Following a spectacular curtain raiser to Europe’s largest and longest-running superyacht regatta with the J Class yachts Svea and Velsheda in what amounted to match racing action yesterday, the entire 16-strong Superyacht Cup fleet took to the water.
Class winners last year and Superyacht Cup victors in 2016, Win Win got the party started, crossing the line bang on her allocated 1300 timeslot as part of a staggered starting sequence, heading out to the left-hand side of the course. The rest of the superyacht fraternity followed suit, starting at two-minute intervals in a light but steady breeze.
Saudade was next up, opting for the right side to the first windward mark, with Highland Fling following in Win Win’s wake to complete the Class A contingent.
Bliss was the first of the seven-strong Class B – the largest at the regatta – to start racing, swiftly followed by the J Class twosome, uniquely starting together to maintain their race-within-a-race wrangle.
Class C and then the Corinthian Class D duo of Q and Scorpione of London joined the action, all heading for the first mark of the course, Silver Fern, so named in recognition of 100% New Zealand’s support for the Superyacht Cup.
While the staggered starts might eliminate the drama of a crowded start line, it does nothing to detract from the intensity and focus of the racing, with all the crews aiming to wring every ounce of performance from their yachts.
The ORCsy handicapping system aims to smooth out differences in size and design. So it proved in Class A with Highland Fling demonstrating her racing pedigree to win by almost a minute and a half on corrected time ahead of Saudade after two and a half hours of racing, with Win Win only 23 seconds further back.
“It was fantastic out there today, great conditions here in Palma with a nice nine to 12 knots sea breeze, and quite challenging at times,” said Cameron Appleton, Highland Fling’s tactician.
“I like this place it’s really special, the unique geography puts a bend in the wind you have to get right every time. We were fortunate to get past the right boat at the right time and pull away on the last leg to take first in our class. Timing was everything.
“The first race is always pretty key. We expect conditions to be similar tomorrow so we know what we have to do. Anything is possible.”
Closest contest though came in Class C, with Silencio getting the better of Bolero by just 12 seconds with Aquarius third.
“We actually thought we had lost it by 15 seconds, which was our guess,” said a delighted Ed Danby, helm on Silencio.
“We had a cracking last run coming in and got two really favourable shifts which helped a lot. We have got a great bunch of guys on the boat, and the owner’s wife and his children helping pull the spinnakers down, and that’s what it is all about.”
Scorpione of London took Corinthian Class D honours ahead of Q, while Velsheda not only got the better of Svea but also took the win in Class B ahead of Mari-Cha III in second, pipping Svea by just 28 seconds on corrected time.
“We got our start right, taking the right-hand side of the first beat,” said Velsheda tactician Tom Dodson.
“We weren’t a 100 per cent sure about it but we were pretty sure that side would work out, and then we saw a couple of the locals going that way, so we felt pretty good about that.
“I don’t expect any more races like that to be honest, our performances with Svea are pretty much identical. We are now racing the general fleet and not just Svea – we quite like the ORCsy format and the boats we are racing are all well sailed, and Svea is certainly one of those.”
After racing competitors celebrated a great day on the water and enjoyed the North Sails Happy Hour followed by the Paella Dock Party at Jack’s Club by St Regis.
Racing at The Superyacht Cup Palma continues tomorrow and Saturday.
by The Superyacht Cup