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Scintillating Sailing at the 23rd Superyacht Cup Palma

This article is published in Navis superyacht magazine, August/September 2019 edition. I wrote it from a few rather bland press releases and turned it into something more engaging.

Click here to read it on the Navis website if you prefer (published under my real name, Robin Griffith).

Carbon Powerhouse

Nilaya’s black sailed, carbon silhouette punched its way through the start line chop to emerge ahead of the pack in the opening salvo of the 2019 Superyacht Cup Palma regatta, hotly pursued by Javier Jaudenes’ Baltic design Win Win and the aptly named Open Season. Competitors and spectators alike could be left in no doubt that Class A racing had begun in earnest on the azure Mallorcan waters off Palma. Thirteen magnificent, thoroughbred racing yachts all vying for glory in the prestigious opening Panteanius Race.

Tight racing between these three led to a nail-biting finish with Open Season crossing the finishing line first followed by Win Win who later emerged triumphant following careful calculations by OCR’s state of the art superyacht handicap system to the obvious delight of her skipper Ryan Taylor who japed that no one was interested in coming second, or third!

Superior boat speed and an extremely well drilled and disciplined crew, combined to give Valsheda the edge in Class B with a benchmark performance leaving Topaz, helmed by Peter Holmberg, trailing in her wake. Just fifteen seconds separated this pair of J-Class superyachts giving Holmberg more than a little reason for optimism in the races ahead.

In its debut Class C outing, Huckleberry squeezed out the Spirit of Tradition yawl, Bequia to claim top spot in a blistering performance which saw Hoek Design modern classic Kealoha and the mighty fifty-two metre schooner Meteor finishing third and fourth respectively. Just over thirty seconds separated the first three giving Kealoha’s crew and her skipper, James Saddington, every reason to have a spring in their step as they relaxed with fellow crew members, guests and owners at the ever popular Southern Spars Happy Hour prior to the daily prize-giving and obligatory SYC Dock Party.

Blistering Bullet

Day two saw the sea breeze fill in across Palma Bay with sufficient strength to send the Superyacht Cup fleet on its way in spectacular style with the twenty third edition of Europe’s longest running superyacht regatta once again delivering close competition across all classes. Rookie crew member Salmon Angombe was barely able to contain his joy as Win Win’s crew pressed home their advantage with a second bullet to lead Class A ahead of close rivals Nilaya and Open Season. The eighteen year old Namibian was onboard as part of the Marine Inspirations charitable mentoring program introducing disadvantaged young people from southern Africa to careers in sailing.

Meanwhile in Class B, Peter Holmberg’s earlier optimism was well founded as Topaz turned the tables on arch rival Valsheda to take the win and give both skipper, Rom Loopik and her owner something to smile about at the daily prize-giving. Also smiling were the crew of the Class C yacht, Huckleberry, who were the proud recipients of the North Sails Boat of the Day Award for the boat adjudged to have produced the greatest performance potential in the regatta. This new annual award, comprising of a stunning, limited edition Sterling silver Admiral ship’s decanter and glasses is dedicated to the memory of legendary North Sails founder, Lowell North. It was presented by North Technology Group CEO Tom Whidden, in recognition of a crew prepared to push themselves and their boat to the highest competitive levels through efficient sail deployment and proficient race management.

Racing was followed by equally competitive après sail entertainment courtesy of North Sails Happy Hour culminating in the ever popular Marinepool Paddle Board Challenge where a packed house at the SYC Race Village cheered the boarders home. Later that evening superyacht owners and their guests donned dinner jackets and stunning cocktail dresses in readiness for some mouth-watering Mallorcan cuisine at the Owners Dinner courtesy of the St. Regis Mardavall Mallorca Resort where their Michelin Star chef served up a gastronomic extravaganza from the island’s finest produce.

Mallorcan Magic

Clear conditions, sea breeze and a beautiful Mallorcan mountain backdrop heralded the St Regis Race; the third and final showdown of the 2019 Superyacht Cup Palma. Win Win added yet another win to her tally, continuing her domination of Class A and living up to her name again! Her thirty three metre length and thirty three second lead from nearest rival Nilaya, was the kind of synergy not lost on skipper Ryan Taylor in his post race comments. ‘Nice clean racing kept simple!’ Win Win’s second Superyacht Cup success in three years and the overall Superyacht Cup crown for Baltic designer Javier Jaudenes, made one superyacht owner very happy!

Three was the magic number for Topaz as the Class B boats produced some of the closest match racing on their final day of competition. Three races produced three different winners with Topaz coming out on top a single point ahead of J-Class rival Valsheda, much to the delight of skipper Rom Loopik and helm Peter Holmberg. The lightweight flyer Missy, just a point adrift, also put in a very creditable performance.

In Class C the gorgeous lines of Bequia, the thirty metre Spirit of Tradition Stephens Waring designed yawl, edged ahead of Huckleberry and Kealoha who finished tied on points in second and third place respectively. It was a fitting finale to Bequia’s tenth anniversary on the water and a special achievement for her skipper Seumas Meharg and his crew.

Corinthian Competitors

The Superyacht Cup Palma is not just about winners. The Dutch modern classic yacht, Tulip, helmed and crewed by a friendly mix of family and friends seemed to capture this Corinthian ideal. Participating in her fourth SYC, co-owner Alicia van Vissengen summed things up perfectly with these well chosen words.

“It’s absolutely fantastic. We know we are not going to be first or second but it doesn’t matter as we are enjoying ourselves so much. That’s what it’s all about; it’s really, really fun. Good vibes, lovely people, good organisation, great company and wonderful weather. Palma is fantastic! What more do you want?”

Superyacht Cup director, Kate Branagh could not have been happier. She reported that this year’s Superyacht Cup Palma had been a real pleasure for all involved with so many happy faces both out on the water and back on dry land in the SYC Race Village. She was very keen to welcome everyone back in 2020 to the twenty fourth edition of the Superyacht Cup Palma for another fabulous festival of superyacht sailing and racing.

© Robin Redfern 2019

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