Supermaxi Luxury Yacht & Superyacht News

Superyacht Cup Palma 2014: Overall victory for sailing yacht LIONHEART in J Class

June 24, 2014

With a victory in the fourth as well as final race, a fast 30-mile coastal course with over 20 knots of brisk sea breeze back and forth across the lovely Mediterranean yacht charter destination – the Bay of Palma, sailing yacht Lionheart lift the trophy that they consider the season’s most prominent and hardest to win, triumphing in the five strong J Class at the Palma Superyacht Cup.

Luxury superyacht Lionheart under sail - Photo by clairematches.com

Luxury superyacht Lionheart under sail - Photo by clairematches.com

Having missed out on overall victory on the last race here last year when they could not recover from a poor start, this time Lionheart fought back from a modest opening to the first upwind and took the lead when they went to the far left of the upwind, making a big gain to lead charter yacht Ranger around the first buoy.

From there they were challenged only when the breeze went soft at a leeward mark and the leaders compressed closer, but with excellent speed upwind and downwind Lionheart yacht proved comfortable winners.

With their second win from four races, also sharing Wednesday’s King’s Hundred Guinea Cup with superyacht Hanuman, the team which has Volvo Ocean Race skipper Bouwe Bekking as tactician win their second J Class regatta in a row, after winning in Mahon, Menorca last month. Consistency proved key for the Erle Williams skippered Ranger which took an excellent second overall, pipping last years champions Hanuman by half a point.

Today’s coastal race brought the series to a fitting showdown. With just one point separating regatta leaders luxury yacht Lionheart from Hanuman, the latter made poor start and only on the final run to the finish did they rescue fourth place when they passed superyacht Rainbow.

The well drilled, diligent Lionheart yacht team learned from their own mistakes from Friday’s race, and their extensive post race de-briefs this time offered a pointer towards today’s improved start.

Even if the five boats did not all hit the line at the same time, within seconds they were all bow to bow for a remarkable few minutes of intense action. A long fast reach down across the bay saw no place changing, but on the return leg all the way back to a mark under Cabo Blanco, Velsheda yacht held low and were able to pop through into second which they held to the finish, their best score of the regatta.
Bekking, who returns tomorrow to skipper’s duties on the Volvo 65 in Kiel, was delighted with the Lionheart 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 back to first 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 every race we do a big, full debrief for at least 45 minutes to an hour with video integrated and even like yesterday we had a bad start and we executed on that today.

In Minorca we had speed upwind and downwind so the other guys have caught up or perhaps it is the venue a bit, some boats go really well at a venue, Ranger has gone fantastic at this event, some boats just fit certain events.

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.

I think we have been sailing well and I think our crew work is among the best here. And the owner driver has made huge steps in the last two years and now with two events in a row it is finally paying off.

It is so great to win here. This is for the owners because they look after us and so it is good to give something back.”

Ranger skipper Erle Williams was almost bemused to have taken second, but with four times America’s Cup winner Murray Jones sailing his second regatta as tactician, and solid, dependable crew work to build from their excellent starts ñ they started four times off the left, pin end of the line, their success was well earned:

“We are thrilled because the newer boats are fast and are being sailed well and they are hard to beat. Last year we struggled and it was hard. There are some great sailors out there sailing these boats. The whole J Class story here is a great success story, having five boats here, different winners on each day has been fantastic. But here consistency has been good for us in a tough field, we didn’t win this time, but maybe next time.

Lionheart is extremely fast, they had pace today. They were tucked in behind at the start and they just sailed around us but they are sailing well. But the rest of the boats are very even. Today we saw Velsheda sail better for second. Ranger has form as a team. The boat is set up nicely and the guys are trimming very nicely. Our sails are nice. The boat is kind of heavy and hard work at times, but I think we are sailing it well.

We don’t have as much stability as the others, about six to ten per cent less, and so the stronger breeze was not so good for us, we struggle a little. Apart from Lionheart I think all the boats are pretty even and I think it is down to who sails the boat best and gets off the line and can keep clean air. That has been the big thing for us, to have a regatta where we have been able to sail in clear air. We have started off the pin and that has worked well for us.”

Superyacht Cup Palma 2014 attended by five Claasen yachts

June 24, 2014

Taken place in the popular Mediterranean yacht charter destination – Palma in Spain from last Wednesday to Saturday, the recently concluded Superyacht Cup Palma 2014 was attended by 26 top sailing yachts from around the world. The fleet of giants comprised five jewels built by the Claasen shipyard, namely charter yacht Atalante, Heartbeat, sailing yacht Lionheart, Drumfire and luxury yacht Firefly. All five performed exceptionally well in the fabulous location of the Bay of Palma as the crews were pushed to their limit in a series of amazingly exciting and extraordinarily close races.

Claasen yachts at the Superyacht Cup Palma 2014 - Photo courtesy of Claasen Shipyards - Stuart Pearce

Claasen yachts at the Superyacht Cup Palma 2014 - Photo courtesy of Claasen Shipyards - Stuart Pearce

The fierceness of the competition makes it all the more admirable to report that Lionheart and Heartbeat yachts both came out top in their class. Lionheart won two of the four J-class races outright and shared the King’s 100 Guinea Cup with superyacht Hanuman on another. Luxury yacht Heartbeat won Class 3, coming first in two races and second in the other.

Superyacht Cup Palma 2014 - Photo courtesy of Claasen Shipyards - Stuart Pearce

Superyacht Cup Palma 2014 - Photo courtesy of Claasen Shipyards - Stuart Pearce

Sailing yacht Drumfire was third in Class 3 and Atalante yacht sixth, while Firefly came sixth in Class 1. With such small margins of victory, all our yachts can be delighted with their performance and we congratulate the owners, the crews and designer Andre Hoek!

Classen Shipyards has released a short video to capture a flavour of this successful four-day event in the stunning Palma yacht holiday location.

Always exceptional Giraglia Rolex Cup

June 23, 2014

This year’s 62nd edition of the Giraglia Rolex Cup has recently come to its end. Bernard Vananty’s sailing yacht Tixwave from Switzerland has become the overall winner of the offshore race, while Igor Simcic’s superyacht Esimit Europa 2 took the line honours trophy as the fleet’s fastest boat.

Final prize giving of the Giraglia Rolex Cup 2014 at the new Yacht Club de Monaco clubhouse - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Final prize giving of the Giraglia Rolex Cup 2014 at the new Yacht Club de Monaco clubhouse - Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

The 62nd Giraglia Rolex Cup ended in true style, befitting “an old lady of yacht-racing” as Carlo Croce, President of ISAF and the Yacht Club Italiano described the Mediterranean’s top offshore race during his prize-giving remarks. Hosted by the Yacht Club de Monaco on the upper level of its new clubhouse, the occasion was a mix of emotion, pride, celebration and humour as the winners were rewarded for their efforts.

206 yachts including 12 double-handers – a first for the event – took part in this classic contest that attracts crews from around the world. 189 finished this year’s race that began with light, troublesome winds, offered most competitors an unusually easy rounding of the Girgalia rock, and, for some of the smaller yachts, a welcome steady beat to the finish.

Overall winner, Bernard Vananty, took to the stage with his entire Tixwave crew to receive deserved plaudits for a job well done. Vananty was awarded the Rolex Trophy and a Rolex Timepiece.

ESIMIT EUROPA 2 (SLO) sailing her last miles to Monaco - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Superyacht ESIMIT EUROPA 2 (SLO) sailing her last miles to Monaco - Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

Vananty came second overall last year and was delighted to have gone one better this year. It had not been plain sailing though: “This year’s race was more complicated than last year given the wind conditions. We had to avoid losing contact with the bigger boats and constantly find ways to profit from the opportunities presented by the wind. We handled this quite well, especially during the night, when we managed to keep up with the bigger boats on the leg from the Giraglia rock to Monaco.”

Vananty felt things were going well, until the final moments: “We arrived in windy conditions, but 20 to 30 metres from the finish line there was hole and we were in trouble. We started to check the time, thinking that all our efforts had been ruined in these last metres… it took us 14 minutes to cross the finish line!” Their concerns were without foundation. Tixwave had sailed well enough to correct out 3 minutes 36 seconds ahead of their nearest rival, Thetis. Luca Locatelli and Thetis’ consolation was to win the Trofeo Challenge Marco Paleari for the Combined Classification of Sanremo to Saint-Tropez Race + Saint-Tropez Inshore Series + Offshore Race.

Igor Simcic, a member of the Yacht Club de Monaco and owner of Esimit Europa 2, won a Rolex Timepiece, the Rolex Trophy and the Trophy Rene Levainville for first place on elapsed time and the Beppe Croce Trophy for the first yacht to reach the Giraglia rock: “The race was perfect. In the beginning we had some light wind, which made it a little tricky in deciding which tactic to follow. Then it became much easier when the fresh breeze came in during the night and we were really fast. For me it was the best finish in my life. It was a unique idea to finish the race in Monte-Carlo.”

Bernard Vananty's Swan 42 TIXWAVE on her way to an overall win in the 2014 Giraglia Rolex Cup - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Bernard Vananty's Swan 42 Yacht TIXWAVE on her way to an overall win in the 2014 Giraglia Rolex Cup - Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

Line Honours: 62nd Giraglia Rolex Cup offshore race
Esimit Europa 2 (SLO), Igor Simcic, 
24 hours, 35 minutes, 56 seconds

Overall Results: 62nd Giraglia Rolex Cup offshore race
1. Tixwave (GBR), Bernard Vananty
2. Thetis (ITA), Luca Locatelli
3. Magic Twelve (ITA), Francois Pailloux

Official opening of new Yacht Club de Monaco premises

June 23, 2014

Friday, June 20, 2014, saw HSH the Sovereign Prince Albert II inaugurate the Yacht Club de Monaco’s new premises, as well as showcase for the Principality’s ambitions in the yachting sector.

HSH the Sovereign Prince Albert II inaugurating new Yacht Club de Monaco premises

HSH the Sovereign Prince Albert II inaugurating new Yacht Club de Monaco premises - Image credit to Eric Mathon

HSH the Sovereign Prince Albert II, accompanied by the royal family and the building’s architect Lord Foster officially opened the new premises of the Yacht Club de Monaco of which he has been president for 30 years. It was a historic occasion for the 4,000 guests, which included all government ministers, the Minister of State Michel Roger, President of the National Council Laurent Nouvion, YCM members (1,300 society members, 66 nationalities), friends of the Club from around the world, and all those taking part in the Giraglia Rolex Cup, the first time in its history that this prestigious offshore race has finished in Monaco.

On Friday 20th June starting at 4.00pm, the official part of the proceedings started with the cutting of the ribbon and a blessing bestowed on the building by Monaco’s Archbishop Bernard Barsi, before the Prince toured the building. Shortly after 7.00pm, to symbolise the continuity between the two buildings, HSH Prince Albert II closed the old premises on Quai Antoine 1er by lowering the YCM flag.

New Yacht Club de Monaco Premises from above - Image credit to Carlo Borlenghi

New Yacht Club de Monaco Premises from above - Image credit to Carlo Borlenghi

Then accompanied by the Club’s General Secretary Bernard d’Alessandri they brought the flag across the harbour in a “pointu” (traditional Mediterranean fishing boat) to Quai Louis II where the new building is moored. The Sovereign was welcomed on the quay by HSH Princess Charlene and nearly all members of his family, to the cheers of YCM members dressed in formal yachtsmen attire in a prolonged spontaneous ovation for their President.

YCM 2014 ©Guillaume Plisson

YCM 2014 ©Guillaume Plisson

Welcome aboard!

“The flag I have just raised today flies proudly on the mast at the top of our new premises. It marks an important phase in the life of our Club, for Port Hercule and for the Principality,” said the Sovereign Prince of Monaco as he officially opened the doors to the harbour’s new flagship, and home to the Yacht Club de Monaco and Société Nautique rowing club. He continued: “With this architectural masterpiece we wished to affirm Monaco’s yachting identity, our ambition being to continue to orient our country’s future prosperity towards the sea.”

The Monaco Government chose Lord Foster to design the YCM’s new flagship, as the renowned British architect is famous for his hi-tech approach to the environment. “When designing this building which is open to the sea, at the centre of the harbour and embracing the city, we wanted to preserve the traditional spirit so dear to the Principality,” said Lord Foster, adding that if this building was a real liner he would call her Free Spirit.

New Yacht Club de Monaco Premises by night @FranckTerlin

New Yacht Club de Monaco Premises by night @FranckTerlin

Sleek and elegant with an LOA (length overall) of 200m, the building blends harmoniously into the site, and was built in partnership with the Monaco architect Alexandre Giraldi, supervised by the Public Works Department. Designed to be both aesthetically pleasing and state of the art, it has been constructed to HQE (Haute Qualité Environnementale) standards. A stunning showcase, the building symbolises Monaco in the third millennium, looking ahead to the future and the sea.

Inauguration Ceremony YCM Lord Norman Foster

Inauguration Ceremony YCM - Lord Norman Foster - Image credit to Carlo Borlenghi

A new jewel in the crown of the yachting sector in Monaco

The Principality of Monaco now has a tool to develop and promote Monaco’s position as the World Capital of Yachting, with a series of initiatives that include establishing a Yachting Cluster (a focus for improving competitiveness), setting up a training centre issuing internationally recognised professional certificates, and increasing the number of regattas and nautical events.

The festivities continued throughout the weekend with the Giraglia Rolex Cup prize-giving, with Pierre Casiraghi in the team that took line honours on superyacht Esimit Europa 2 and an exclusive presentation of the 122’ motor yacht Mythos, the largest Riva ever built (37m). Symbolising the YCM’s attachment to its maritime heritage, the four surviving International 15M class yachts (Tuiga, Hispania, The Lady Anne and Mariska) were racing over the weekend, with victory going to Mariska (1908).

Next rendezvous: the Challenge Inter-banques – Trophée Eri (28-29 June 2014), followed by the first edition of the Solar1 Monte-Carlo Cup (10th to 12th July), a race meeting for around 30 solar-powered boats designed by young engineers from international universities. The Yacht Club de Monaco has embarked on a new chapter in its history. And it looks very promising.

Superyacht Cup Palma 2014: Day 3

June 21, 2014

The penultimate day of the currently running Superyacht Cup in the fabulous Mediterranean yacht charter destination – Palma saw another exciting race, this time along the coastline. The sea breeze was much easier to read during the Mag5 Race on Friday than had been the case Thursday. As the upwinds fell much more in line with conventional logic, the key to success was the ability – and at times luck – to navigate a smooth passage through the crowded field. All the crews had to be super alert and the value of advance training was priceless.

Superyacht Cup Palma 2014 - Photo courtesy of Claasen Shipyards - Stuart Pearce

Superyacht Cup Palma 2014 - Photo courtesy of Claasen Shipyards - Stuart Pearce

In the J-class race, yesterday saw only 38 seconds separate the first three Js across the line – sailing yacht Hanuman, charter yacht Ranger and Lionheart yacht. In the words of Kenny Read, Hanuman’s skipper-helm: “It does not get any better racing-wise than this. This is as good as it gets, high quality, high powered racing.” Claasen’s Lionheart is still in pole position in the overall J-class rankings with a one point lead over Hanuman.

Photo courtesy of Claasen Shipyards - Stuart Pearce

Photo courtesy of Claasen Shipyards - Stuart Pearce

Turning to the other Claasen yachts, superyacht Heartbeat and Drumfire yacht came second and third in their class respectively, although Firefly yacht and charter yacht Atalante had more of a torrid time. As we go into the fourth and last day of races, Heartbeat is second in Class 3 and fifth overall. If she is to repeat her feat last year of winning overall she must overtake luxury yacht Ganesha and superyacht Inoui (Class 1), charter yacht Maria Cattiva (Class 3) and current fleet leader Unfurled yacht (Class 2).  The St Regis Mardavall Mallorca Resort Race starts at 13.00.

A great success of Claasen yachts at currently running Superyacht Cup Palma 2014

June 20, 2014

Following two days of the Superyacht Cup 2014, running in the fascinating Mediterranean yacht charter destination – Palma in Spain, the owners, captains, crews, as well as designer of the five attending Claasen yachts, Andre Hoek, have much to be proud of. Wednesday, June 18, the opening day of this prominent gathering of sailing superyachts, saw an amazingly exciting race between the five J-class yachts that was neck and neck throughout. The Claasen-built sailing yacht Lionheart ultimately shared the King’s 100 Guinea Cup with luxury yacht Hanuman, after finishing tied on corrected time.

Claasen yachts at the Superyacht Cup Palma 2014 - Photo courtesy of Claasen Shipyards - Stuart Pearce

Claasen yachts at the Superyacht Cup Palma 2014 - Photo courtesy of Claasen Shipyards - Stuart Pearce

Yesterday also saw another thrilling race between the Js, and Lionheart came out clear winner in the second windward-leeward race of the series. Lionheart took the lead on the second beat and extended progressively to win by 65 seconds ahead of superyacht Rainbow after three laps of racing.

Meanwhile, yesterday also saw the 21 other yachts make their debut in Palma in the Pantaenius Race. Facing progressive changes in pressure and wind direction, it was the teams which had the best handle on the big picture and could second guess the changes which rose to the top of the three classes.

Superyacht Cup Palma 2014 - Photo courtesy of Claasen Shipyards - Stuart Pearce

Superyacht Cup Palma 2014 - Photo courtesy of Claasen Shipyards - Stuart Pearce

And it turned out to be a very satisfactory day indeed for the four Claasen boats in the fleet. Luxury yacht Heartbeat was the winner of Class 3, coming in four minutes ahead of her nearest rival. Drumfire yacht came third and charter yacht Atalante fourth. Meanwhile, superyacht Firefly came third in Class 1, with Ganesha yacht coming first thanks partly to the local knowledge of navigator Nacho Postigo.

Fourth Line Honours victory for sailing yacht Esimit Europa 2 at Giraglia Rolex Cup

June 20, 2014

This year’s Giraglia Rolex Cup saw the impressive 100-foot maxi sailing yacht Esimit Europa 2 cross the finish line off Monte-Carlo at 12:35 CEST. Superyacht Esimit Europa 2 has thus secured her fourth Line Honours victory in the offshore race of this popular regatta.

Superyacht ESIMIT EUROPA 2 (SLO) arriving at the finish off Monte-Carlo to secure her fourth Line Honours victory - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Superyacht ESIMIT EUROPA 2 (SLO) arriving at the finish off Monte-Carlo to secure her fourth Line Honours victory - Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

Her elapsed time of 24 hours, 35 minutes, 56 seconds was well outside her record (14 hours, 56 minutes and 16 seconds) for the 62nd edition of 241-nm race, which she set in 2012 when the race finished in Sanremo. The predicted tricky wind conditions of the past 24 hours put paid to any hope of bettering her benchmark time.

The arrival was a special moment. The Yacht Club de Monaco (YCM) is the home-club for the Slovenian yacht and owner, Igor Simcic, and the race crew featured Pierre Casiraghi of Monaco and a member of the YCM Management Committee.

Luxury sailing yacht ESIMIT EUROPA 2 (SLO) sailing her last miles to Monaco - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Luxury sailing yacht ESIMIT EUROPA 2 (SLO) sailing her last miles to Monaco - Photo by Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Quotes
Jochen Schumann, Skipper, Esimit Europa 2
“It was perfect to win line honours in this special edition of the Giraglia Rolex Cup finishing in Monaco. We were lucky to finish much earlier than expected. Aside from a critical point off Saint-Tropez where the wind was very light and Robertissima was really close we got our strategy just right.

“It was better than expected because we never stopped 100%. We always had breeze even if it was down to 2/3 knots at times. Usually in this race it shuts down and gets very glassy off the tip of Corsica, but on this occasion we had 13 knots of wind and sailed around with 14/15 knots of boat speed.”

Igor Simcic, Owner, Esimit Europa 2
“The race was perfect. In the beginning we had some light wind, which made it a little tricky in deciding which tactic to follow. We made a compromise in the beginning to cover the competition. Then it became much easier when the fresh breeze came in the night when we were really fast. Even here at the end when we were expecting it to be really tough there was enough.”

“For me it was the best finish in my life. It was a unique idea to finish the race in Monte-Carlo. We were prepared to win. With Jochen everything is clear. We have to choose the best members for the crew, not just as sailors but also as a person because we are a big family and are happy when we are sailing together.”

18:00 CEST Update
Six yachts have currently finished the race, with sailing yacht Robertissima III second boat home. Today will see a flood of yachts arriving and the docks in front of the new Yacht Club de Monaco clubhouse filled will crews enthusiastically joining the festivities and ceremony surrounding the inauguration of the building by HSH Prince Albert II, President of the YCM, today afternoon and evening.

The 62nd Giraglia Rolex Cup race started on June 18 at 12:00 CEST. The final prize giving will take place on Saturday, 21 June at the Yacht Club de Monaco. Rolex has been a partner of the event since 1997.

First coastal course of the Superyacht Cup Palma 2014

June 20, 2014

The breath-taking Mediterranean yacht charter destination – Bay of Palma set a typical challenge for the Superyacht Cup Palma 2014 fleet, making their first coastal course of the regatta. With progressive changes in pressure as well as wind direction as the 21 yacht fleet crossed the bay and passed upwind and downwind, it was the teams, which had the best handle on the big picture and could second guess the changes, which rose to the top of the three classes.

Superyacht Cup Palma 2014 - Image credit to www.clairematches.com

Luxury yacht Ganesha at the Superyacht Cup Palma 2014 - Image credit to www.clairematches.com

While the five strong J Class did their second windward-leeward of the week, a coastal course of 28.6Nms was set in the SSWly sea breeze. Crucial choices were to take the left of the first beat where there was more wind pressure and a beneficial left shift, and, correspondingly to recognise the breeze becoming lighter and shifting back as the fleet raced downwind towards the shore.

The sea breeze built from a gentle 8 to 9kts for the first starters of the fleet which is set of at two minutes staggered intervals. By mid race there were 13-16kts at times which placed a premium on good boat handling and excellent communication.  Those teams which had not sailed together before or had changes in line up found they suffered against the crisper crew work around the intense course.

The course opened with a four miles upwind leg, rounding a mark to starboard on to a fetch which some could set Code Zeros, before a three miles downwind leg. With the breeze easing it was important to compensate and keep up the boat speed sailing higher angles. There was then an upwind leg to the Sech mark on the outer edge of the bay, followed by a fetch to the centre of the bay, then rehoist the spinnaker. Then it was upwind to a port rounding and then a critical reach to the finish with the breeze lifting approaching the finish.

Aboard sailing yacht Ganesha, the 46m/149ft new Dubois design, the local knowledge of navigator Nacho Postigo and firm understanding of the impending changes in the breeze of tactican Matt Humphries were the foundations of their comfortable owner driven win in Class 1. They won their seven boat division by over seven minutes.

2014 Superyacht Cup Palma - Image credit to www.clairematches.com

2014 Superyacht Cup Palma - Image credit to www.clairematches.com

“It was interesting.” Postigo recalled, “ It was a very typical day on the Bay of Palma when the wind in the morning is the Xaloc wind which is more southerly. The more you go out of the bay the more it goes to the left. And more importantly there is a big difference in pressure. The left side of the bay has much more pressure. On the left you can have 15 or 16 kts of pressure while on the right it can be quite light and so the course was interesting because it mixed the two sides of the bay. It was difficult to predict what was going to happen next on the course. Our guys on the boat did a very very good job manoeuvring the boat, on the bow and at the mast.”

Among the keys to their success were choosing the left side of the first beat and giving themselves a fast, high passing lane coming into the first mark which allowed them to pass many boats unhindered: “Our first leg was the best, where we probably did best. Compared to the boats around we looked to have overstood the layline but that let us come in with speed and we could roll the whole line. In these things when you start so far behind the important thing is the passing lanes. We managed to get a very good passing lane there, getting five or six boats in a row there. And the gybe sets at the marks, playing the right shifts on the downwind legs. Our owner drives all the time and loves it.”

Meanwhile Postigo is enjoying a big change between his own solo Mini 6.50 project and navigating the superyachts. He has just won his first solo race from Rome, raced the Superyacht regatta in Sardinia, delivered the Mini back to Palma to jump on board the 149 footer Ganesha.

“It is a contrast from the 20 footer to the 150 footer. I finished from Rome and went to do Sardinia on the big boat then went and delivered the boat here and now back on the 150 footer. It is a bit bizarre to come back and have a whole lot of people on the boat when you are used to being on you own.”

Another Palma sailor was making winning calls in Class 2. Superyacht Gaia, the 101ft/30.6m Spirit Yachts won with Miguel Sanchez calling the shots on his home waters: “We made some little mistakes but overall we sailed generally well, in the end the big boats overtook us when the breeze is up. We have some new crew and it is their first time with us and there was some disorganisation in the boat handling and manoeuvring but for sure the last race will be our best!

“We did Loro Piana earlier in the month and have some new crew since after refitting through last winter. In Sardinia our kites were not so good but we have a different one here, we were much better today so we are quite happy here.”

And last year’s overall winner, sailing yacht Heartbeat, the Hoek designed Classen built 80ft/24m sloop, was back to her winning ways in Class 2. The first boat to start she finished just under four minutes ahead of second placed charter yacht Maria Cattiva.

J Class

If Wednesday’s J Class race for the King’s Hundred Guineas Cup at Palma’s Superyacht Cup proved inconclusive, superyacht Hanuman and luxury yacht Lionheart finally being required to share the top trophy, there were no such doubts cast about the winners of the second windward-leeward race of the series.

Lionheart took the lead on the second beat and extended progressively to win by one minute and five seconds ahead of luxury yacht Rainbow across the finish line after three laps of racing.

Racing conditions were something close to Palma’s sea breeze best. The wind built from a relatively gentle 7-9kts at the start to 16kts on the third round to provide some sparkling downwind sailing with the five J Class yachts pushing their crews increasingly hard.

Charter yacht Ranger won the pin end of the start and were able to quickly gain the left side of the course which, as is often the case, proved the passport to a good lead at the first windward mark. But at the leeward gate they let the prowling Lionheart separate to the left hand gate mark, work back to the left again – toward the bluff, cliff lined Cabo Blanco shore – and the Lionheart crew which has Bouwe Bekking as tactician converted a 15 seconds deficit to a lead of more than one minute at the second windward turn.

Rainbow’s profit was not as valuable but they rose to earn a well deserved second place.

After a modest start Hanuman pulled through to cross the finish line third but dropped behind Ranger on corrected time.

Bekking, who skippers the Team Brunel Volvo Ocean Race team, was pleased to have kept the ‘winning’ record of Lionheart intact, claiming a share of Wednesday’s top trophy as a victory!

“ We had a good start and so far our crew work has been excellent so it is good and our owner has been driving superbly. It is all coming together nicely and so we have our seven wins in a row.”

He was less enthused by the idea of a head to head match with Hanuman for the Cup: “Maybe.” He grinned, “ But I think he is quite handy at that. So maybe we should not go there.”

Bekking believes the J Class racing here keeps him and some of his core crew sharp for the upcoming Volvo Ocean Race: “I made this commitment to sail these three regattas before the Volvo came along but I think this is really got for us who are on the Volvo as we are in a good racing environment, it is good for my communication and relationship with Andrew Cape the navigator and we have four guys from the team here. It all fits in really well and it keeps me sharp.”

Of their success to date he concludes: “We have worked hard on the boat and as a crew. We have a great group of people and a great owner-driver. There is much more pressure with the pro driver. Our owner says to just relax from start to the finish. I sometimes get a bit tense but you want it to be good for everyone on board. I made a mistake at the start yesterday and I have to put my hand up for that one.”

Rainbow’s helm, Holland’s five times Olympian Mark Neeleman, was delighted with second: “The competition is so complete here with five boats that we are very happy to get second today, the boat is going very well, nice and quick. The wind shifted 15 or 20 degrees to the left on the second beat and we got that with Lionheart. It was a good side of the course. Our Italian team at the back Francesco (De Angelis) and Michele (Ivaldi) worked it well. We are very happy with the result. Everything went well, we are working all the time to get better. The boat is relatively new and we are changing and modifying the crew a little and getting better all the time. We have sailed the least together of all the teams I think so it is pleasing today. We have had five boats a couple of times but all the teams are getting better all the time, this is the best competition there is. The differences are minimal and so you can’t make mistakes. You have to do everything right if not you go from first to fourth.”

Superyacht Cup Palma 2014: King’s 100 Guinea Cup for HANUMAN and LIONHEART Yachts

June 19, 2014

Sailing yacht Hanuman and superyacht Lionheart will share the King’s 100 Guinea Cup, after finishing tied on corrected time in the first race of The Superyacht Cup Palma 2014, currently being hosted by the breath-taking Mediterranean yacht charter destination – Palma in Spain. They actually finished second and third respectively across the finish line behind charter yacht Ranger, which subsequently accepted a penalty for a rules infringement on the approach to the first leeward gate.

The Superyacht Cup Palma 2014 - Image credit to www.clairematches.com

The Superyacht Cup Palma 2014 King's 100 Guinea Cup - Image credit to www.clairematches.com

It was the closest and most exciting racing for the J Class yet as the five boat fleet for Palma’s Superyacht Cup contested the prestigious trophy. From a spirited, very evenly match contest which saw three different leaders at successive windward mark turns, luxury yacht Ranger had lead around the final turn, eking out a decent lead to finish first across the line.

But with Ranger yacht taking an arbitration penalty after a port-starboard incident as they approached the first leeward gate which dropped them to third superyacht Hanuman  – winners here last year – and luxury yacht Lionheart – winners of the Menorca Maxi event last month – could not be separated on corrected time.

So both will share the Class’s top trophy of the season: “Wow, it was some race.” Smiled Hanuman’s Ken Read in the Palma sunshine just after racing, “When you have five boats going at the same speed then that is the best race there has been. It is flat water and 12 knots of breeze and so it is when the boat speeds are going to be very similar. And so as you saw today any mistake was magnified.”

Luxury sailing yacht Hanuman

Luxury sailing yacht Hanuman - Image credit to www.clairematches.com

Of the tie for the Cup Read later declared: “I think it is a fair result. The time is taken in rounded off seconds. I think it is not going to get any easier it is just down to who sails better. It will be interesting when it is breezier. I said it was going to be full on, and shit, yes it is full on.”

There were mistakes aplenty. While two of the five Js had well timed starts at either end of the line, in the middle two had scrappy openings which set them immediately on the back foot.

The three rounds windward leeward race, contested in 9-14 kts of SSW’ly breeze saw three different leaders at successive windward marks, with places changing throughout and invigorating close quarters boat handling. Ranger, with four times America’s Cup winner Murray Jones calling tactics, read the wind changes and – crucially – got themselves in positions to capitalise.

The Bay of Palma can sometimes be a one way, one sided race track in the standard sea-breeze conditions, but the first contest of the Superyacht Cup for the J Class offered ample chances for gains and losses as the breeze tracked right and built for each round.

The Superyacht Cup Palma 2014

The Superyacht Cup Palma 2014 - - Image credit to www.clairematches.com

Early leader Velsheda yacht dropped to fifth across the finish. Superyacht Rainbow, at the back of the pack through the first leeward gate went to the right up the second beat to lead Ranger by a nose at top of the second round before Ranger had established a more meaningful lead up the final beat.

Ironically both the joint trophy winners had suffered off the start line together and had to fight back. Lionheart were early on the line and Hanuman started downspeed whilst Velsheda started well at the signal boat end of the line with better speed. But both worked the shifting breeze well, Hanuman crossing the finish line nine seconds ahead of Lionheart which has Bouwe Bekking calling tactics.

Bekking said later, “It worked out quite nicely in the end. In the end it was alright but we had a bad start. I just got the timing wrong and Kenny (Hanuman) did a nice job squeezing us up and then we had to do a big dip and that put us on back foot. But we got back into it. You take your chances and our guys on the foredeck and our Owner did a good job driving.”

Ready to Race in Palma

Both of the 2013 class champions are back to race among the 26 strong fleet which has assembled in Palma for the Superyacht Cup which starts today (Thursday) on the Bay of Palma.

Ranging in size from the 24 metre sailing yacht Heartbeat and luxury yacht Drumfire to the 51 metres schooner Borkumriff IV, the fleet will sail three races over Thursday, Friday and Saturday, including coastal courses of between 19 and 30 miles.

Class 1 winner last year charter yacht Highland Breeze, the 34m Swan is back to defend the title they won on the Bay of Palma last year, as is Heartbeat which was awarded the overall trophy last year. Owner Manon Borrius Broek was delighted, if a little surprised last year to win the regatta she had bought Heartbeat to compete in. Winning at their third attempt, it is no surprise that the crew, who are a group of friends, are looking forwards to the one regatta they compete on each year, on the boat’s home waters.

Before the Heartbeat crew went out for their final practice, she said: “It was a nice surprise to win last year. And we only come together once every year to do this regatta, the Superyacht Cup. Otherwise I cruise around with the boat in the South of France and the Balearics. We will try to win again, but we are only just getting some practice in. But our aim is to have fun together. We are a group of friends with a captain. But everybody knows what to do on the boat and does it well. We all help each other and have fun. That is the most important thing for us, to have a good ambience on board.

“We started out together in 2005 with the last boat the Lady M which was too small for the Superyacht Cup. That what was when we saw it for the first time and have done it since 2011. The first time we were second, fourth in Cowes in 2012 and last year we won. This year we will see. I have not really looked at what the competition. The regatta is fun, it is nice, it is well organised and I feel honoured to be in amongst all these beautiful boats like the Js. The boat is based here in Palma and so this is our home regatta.”

Looking to continue their steady improvement since the bright green hulled Briand designed 33m was launched last year, following regattas in Sardinia and Porto Cervo last year, a Caribbean race circuit and the Loro Piana Superyacht Regatta in Sardinia earlier this month, the crew of Inouï under skipper Stéphane Luca with Chris Main calling tactics, believe they have what it takes to win this time: “In our class I think we are strong enough to win now if we sail well enough, normally that should be enough. We are improving all the time with the boat, understanding it more. That is the key thing.”

Amazing start to The Superyacht Cup Palma 2014

June 18, 2014

It has been an amazing start to this year’s Superyacht Cup Palma, currently running the lovely Mediterranean yacht charter destination – Palma in Spain. The new generation of J-class yachts had the honour of starting proceedings at this four-day event, which represents the longest running superyacht regatta in Europe. The Bay of Palma is full of the world’s finest sailing yachts, comprising five built by Claasen: charter yacht Atalante, Heartbeat, sailing yacht Lionheart, Drumfire and superyacht Firefly. It is a beautiful sight as the Regatta Village is nestled at Muelle Viejo, with the majestic Palma Cathedral as a backdrop.

The five J Class yacht line up ready to race at The Superyacht Cup Palma 2014

The five J Class yacht line up ready to race at The Superyacht Cup Palma 2014

Today’s first race set the tone for what is to come. At exactly 13.00, five mightily J Class yachts – superyacht Lionheart, Velsheda, luxury yacht Hanuman, charter yacht Ranger and Rainbow – crossed the starting line in unison hand and set off on the 20-km course. At the end Ranger came in first, with Hanuman second and Lionheart third, just 100 metres and 15 seconds behind.

Aboard superyacht Firefly

Aboard superyacht Firefly

Congratulations to all the crews for running such a fantastic first race. Tonight all the owners and crew are coming together at a Welcome Cocktail Party and no doubt there will be many bets wagered and dares shared on the outcome of tomorrow’s race.