As a curtain raiser to the 22nd Superyacht Cup it does not get much better than the sight of two of the superb J Class yachts strutting their stuff out on the vibrant blue waters of Palma Bay.
The opening races of the Mediterranean’s largest and longest running superyacht festival pitched Velsheda and Svea head to head against each other, a vivid reminder perhaps of the class’s distinguished match racing heritage.
The contest, which set the scene for a further three days of full-on Superyacht Cup fleet action, saw near ideal wind conditions under blue skies, only punctuated by the white clouds over Mallorca’s mountain backdrop.
And as perhaps an indicator of the open, even handed racing that lies ahead, the day finished honours’ even with each boat putting a victory on the board.
“The Superyacht Cup could hardly have got off to a better start with Palma delivering the conditions it is renowned for and both our J Class stars taking a win each to launch the regatta,” said Event Director Kate Branagh. “The whole fleet will be out in force tomorrow for three days of racing, followed by some equally enjoyable socialising and catching-up on shore.”
The fact that two yachts representing the full diversity of the J Class – from refitted original vessels like the 1933-built Velsheda to the new generation represented by Svea – can race and win is testimony to the sophisticated handicapping system used by the J Class Association, which was used in the opening act.
Race one saw the two yachts dramatically split tacks from the start, with Svea’s choice of the right side of the course paying off with a 30 second lead at the gate at the top of the course. It was an advantage they were able to maintain to the finish.
The tables were turned in the second contest, with Velsheda leading the way from the start and holding her advantage with some no doubt match racing inspired covering tactics both upwind and down on both circuits.
“We had a good tussle with Svea in both races,” said Velsheda’s tactician Tom Dodson. “They showed really good speed in the first race to cross ahead on the first beat. In the second it all worked for us, we got the cross and hung on.
“Both boats are owner-driver and sailed to such a high standard – if we get everything right we can still win races against the newer boats.”
And he added: “Palma and the Superyacht Cup is special – flat water is a big deal with steady, consistent wind. The atmosphere around the dock is also fantastic.”
It is a view fully shared by Svea’s tactician Charlie Ogletree: “Palma Bay is amazing, a fantastic background and great conditions with 10 to 14 knots of wind, with a few shifts around to be able to play the game.
“We are new and only just starting our second year of sailing, while Velsheda is a bit of a benchmark in the class and we all aspire to compete against them. It was match racing, though we backed off a little of course, the last thing we want is a collision, but we push it as hard as we can while staying safe.”
The friendly rivalry will be continued for the remainder of the Superyacht Cup, with Svea and Velsheda starting together as part of the timed starting sequence used by the whole fleet.
Racing continues until June 23rd, alongside a full social programme in the Superyacht Cup event village.
Last word to Charlie Ogletree: “We are looking forward to the rest of the week – it is going to be fun.”
Watch all the action from today here: https://youtu.be/yqMKEpg7030