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Close racing the order of the day at landmark Superyacht Cup Palma

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Close racing the order of the day at landmark Superyacht Cup Palma
Close racing the order of the day at landmark Superyacht Cup Palma

The frustrations of a challenging year were blown away Thursday as a solid sailing breeze kicked in to help celebrate the opening day of the 25th anniversary of Superyacht Cup Palma.

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Near ideal conditions once again graced the Bay of Palma, delivering tight and exhilarating racing on a 23nm course to the nine-strong fleet of superyachts, their owners, captains and crews.

Umiko – at 24m the smallest superyacht in the fleet – was the first away on the Pantaenius Race Day course, followed by her Class A rivals Missy, Shamanna and Nilaya at two minute intervals.

In Class B the first two starters chose alternate routes to the first mark, with the majestic 46m Aquarius – the largest and heaviest yacht at SYC – opting to head west on her first leg, while Baiurdo VI headed for the left side of the racecourse having made a perfectly timed start. The SYC first-timer Ravenger was next up, hotly pursued by the 46m Ganesha, and Scorpione of London and her lime green shirted crew.

Missy was first around the first mark, the Pantaenius buoy, with Umiko and Shamanna jostling for position some 800m astern, and off towards the New Zealand buoy, the second of five marks. Eventually the 33m Missy would give ground on the water to her slightly larger rivals Shamanna and Nilaya, with the former narrowly taking line honours by less than 30 seconds on the opening day.

However, the sophisticated ORCsy handicap system flipped the leaderboard, giving Nilaya the opening race win by just 10 seconds – after more than two hours of racing – from Missy, Shamanna and Umiko.

“It was pretty close, though just before the finish we thought we were looking good,” said Volvo Race veteran Bouwe Bekking who is racing on Nilaya. “It had been quite difficult on the beats because we didn’t gain anything, but the crew were good and on the run the gybes were going nicely, and the owner did a good job of driving.

“It was one of those days it paid to be patient, to keep it close and wait for your opportunity. The wind was typical Palma, really nice and it was a beautiful sail. The racing is great and so is the organisation.”

Meanwhile it was a similar story in Class B. The 46m Ganesha – an SYC regular – had built a commanding on-the-water lead by the finish but had to give way to Ravenger, and only pipped third placed Baiurdo VI by 17 seconds once the handicap was applied.

The result was a pleasant surprise for Ravenger, said crew member Steve Branagh: “The owner is new to the whole yacht racing game, and this was his first race on the boat. We’d literally done two days of sailing before the regatta, so it was a big day of learning how to sail the boat.

“We weren’t confident and there was a wee bit of making it up as we went along. It was seat of the pants with a bit of suck-it-and-see. We had not too bad a start and a fairly good first beat which set us up for the rest of the race.

“We are now looking forward to the next couple of days of sailing without a doubt. The win was pretty unexpected, so we won’t let that go to our heads – we know we still have a lot of work to do.”

With the fleet heading back in – with many mooring at the iconic Real Club Náutico de Palma in the heart of Mallorca’s capital – SYC Event Director Kate Branagh said: “It all went really well and it was a great way to start our 25th anniversary event. It had been looking a bit light but the breeze came in and produced some really good racing.”

Racing at Superyacht Cup Palma continues on Friday with New Zealand Race Day, named after SYC’s long-standing Destination Partner.

Close racing the order of the day at landmark Superyacht Cup Palma
Close racing the order of the day at landmark Superyacht Cup Palma

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