The Superyacht Cup Palma - 18th – 21st June 2014 More than J(ust) Class
Posted Jan. 30, 2015, 11:40 a.m.
The Superyacht Cup Palma - 18th – 21st June 2014 More than J(ust) Class
Photography by Colin Squire (Yachting Matters edition 27)
Ranging in size from the 24m Heartbeat, to the 51 m schooner Borkumriff IV, the main fleet of 21 yachts sailed three races over Thursday, Friday and Saturday which included coastal courses of between 19 to 30 miles. The five J’s raced over four days. Class 1 winner last year, Highland Breeze, the 34m Swan, was back to (unsuccessfully) defend the title, as is Heartbeat who was awarded the overall trophy in 2013 at her third SYC attempt, much to the surprise of her Owner Manon Borrius Broek and her crew, who are simply a collection of great friends out for a sail. This year Heartbeat ended a respectable 6th overall. As Manon stated, “We started out together in 2005 on my previous boat, Lady M, which was too small for the Superyacht Cup and so I had Heartbeat built so that we could join in the fun. This regatta really is fun, it is nice, it is well organised and I feel honoured to be in amongst all these beautiful boats, and the J’s simply make it even more special. The boat is based here in Palma and so, if you like, this is our home regatta.”
First staged in 1996, The Superyacht Cup Palma is the longest running Superyacht regatta in Europe and an event that attracts many of the worlds most highly sophisticated sailing yachts. Many Owners and Crew reunite and compete here annually, their vessels berthed in the Regatta Village that sits in the shadow of the beautiful Palma Cathedral, an ancient building that also acts as a perfect backdrop to the racing taking place out in the Bay. Palma Bay itself is the perfect venue for the event, almost without fail the sea breeze will switch on at around mid-day, giving idyllic conditions for owners to enjoy their yachts, some taking over the helm as crew push the yachts to the limits.
There were 26 yachts registered to race and of these five were J Class, Hanuman, Lionheart, Rainbow, Ranger, and Velsheda, an historic fleet, of what are perceived by many to be the world’s most beautiful racing yachts. They race here in a class of their own, and on the Wednesday they are the only yachts to take to the water as they compete for their own King's Hundred Guinea Cup, a one day event that precludes the start of the SYC proper in which the J’s also race throughout the following days. As they set off in a ‘fleet start’, they make an impressive spectacle, the five yachts side by side, each looking for no more than a few metres to gain an advantage, and the resounding noise of rigging and sheets under extreme tension sends out a message to the bystanders letting them know that these guys are not messing around, they are in it to win it! Everybody lucky enough to be present must hope that at some time in the near future they will be joined by Endeavour and Shamrock V, just to make the scene complete.
The ‘fleet start’ for the J’s is allowed due to the experience of the highly experienced crews and this quite simply adds to the heart stopping manoeuvres required during the close quarter racing in the hours that follow. The boats are simply awesome to watch as their graceful, sleek hulls slice through the water, shedding spray as they go, holding their position in the line until the inevitable split that will take them off on their own chosen course, until they meet again at a rounding mark many miles distant. This is the point at which the tactician is proven correct or otherwise in his choice of direction in the search for wind, just a few metres gained or lost can determine the outcome of a race between these evenly matched racing machines.
I mentioned experienced crew, it is interesting to just note some of the talent onboard the J’s during this regatta:
Bouwe Bekking has four of his Volvo crew on Lionheart. Ken Read’s crew list on Hanuman includes double Olympic 470 medallist Kevin Burnham, three times America’s Cup winner Warwick Fleury and Volvo and America’s Cup sailors Kimo Worthington, Tony Mutter, Jerry Kirby and Robbie Naismith. Alongside Dodson on the owner driven Velsheda stands Olympic silver medallist Don Cowie who trims mainsheet. Ranger has multiple Whitbread and Volvo racer Erle Williams as skipper with Finn, 49er and Laser helm, Dan Slater steering, Mike Quilter navigating and Murray Jones as tactician. Rainbow have America’s Cup sailors Francesco de Angelis and Michele Ivaldi as tactician and navigator.
At the end of this hard fought regatta it was Lionheart who took the honours in the J Class camp at the SYC, considered to be the season’s most prestigious and hardest to win amongst the crews on the J’s, with second overall place going to Ranger, pipping last years champions Hanuman by just half a point. Lionheart won two of the four races and shared Wednesday's, King's Hundred Guinea Cup, with Hanuman after finishing tied on corrected time. They actually finished second and third respectively across the finish line behind Ranger who subsequently accepted a penalty for a rules infringement on the approach to the first leeward gate.
Bekking, Lionhearts tactician, who returned, after the SYC to his skipper's duties onboard his Volvo 65, Team Brunei race yacht in Kiel, was delighted with the win: "This was the one we wanted to win because this is where we have the five boats. Last year we were leading until the last day and then we lost it. We had a bad start then and could not get back. Today we got a good start and got bounced back a bit but we got back into it and clawed our way to the front and from there on it was quite easy. We have such a nice group of people and are always having a good time. We work very hard at it. We always do three full days of practice and with every race we do a big, full debrief for at least 45 minutes to an hour. I have won a few events here so I was pretty confident when we went to the big left. I was a bit amazed the others let us go. After that it was game over. It is so great to win here for the crew and for the owners because they look after us so well, it’s good to give something back."
But of course there were another 21 very diverse Supersail yachts in the event, mostly cruising yachts, with a dual purpose, they are also built to race, each with its own handicap, each with a chance to win. Unfurled, in class 2, were the overall winners of the 2014 Superyacht Cup Palma after a fabulous final day out on the Bay as the breeze topped out over 20kts during the first fast broad reach and produced fantastic racing conditions throughout the afternoon. With four families on board Unfurled – including renowned father and son partnership Ross and Cambell Field – the 112ft/34.2m Frers design took the top award with a consistently strong set of results across the three days and three different races. Cambell Field Jr, described the winning family affair:
“We had four families on board, Ross and myself, Gary Wiseman, his wife Sue and son Sam, John Barrett had his son Connor and the owner’s daughter was with us. That was a pretty good formula. We had a good solid bunch of guys working to win over the three days. It was a brilliant regatta. To have that breeze consistently dial up at 1300hrs, that combined with some great courses that were a good mix of windward, leeward and some reaching. It was fantastic for the owner and fantastic for the team which has been successful for over 15 years now. It is really satisfying and we have been able to sail the boat really, really well. I am thrilled for the owner.”
In Class 1 Saudade won the final race but could not beat Ganesha’s overall score, the new Dubois 149ft/46m sloop winning their class at their fourth ever regatta. Navigator on Ganesha, Nacho Postigo commented: “It was another interesting course today, not least on the second leg when the breeze came in with a bit more than we all expected, we were on a broad reach with big gear up when the wind peaked for us at 24kts and we kind of thought ‘Oh My God!’ but we hung on, it was a bit of a wild ride. But we were fine. For us today second to Saudade was OK they are a good team and for the overall Unfurled are well deserved winners, they sailed better, they sailed clean and sailed well, they were better all round. But for us winning our class is good, it is only our fourth regatta with the boat and we are still learning, in fact it is a bit of a surprise to get second, but we sailed well.”
Overall the four day event was a great success for all who took part, there were a great many sponsors for the event, Royal Huisman, Pantaenius, Astilleros De Mallorca, Rolling Stock and Absolute Boat Care to name just a few. Every evening saw an event at the Village and on the Friday evening an Owners dinner took place at the St Regis Mardavall Mallorca Resort, everybody will no doubt be looking forward to the 2015 event, I know I will be.
The Superyacht Cup 2015 – June 17th – 20th.