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.
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.”
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.
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.”