Some big changes in fortune, along with a change in wind direction and the closest possible finish in one class, meant results in the Superyacht Cup Palma fleet set the scene for a dramatic finale after a day of frenetic activity out on the Bay of Palma.
With an initially solid north-easterly breeze supplanting the more usual sea breeze for New Zealand Race Day, the three classes were launched on their way upwind and heading towards the city itself.
Once again, the majestic quartet of J Class yachts led the way, all four hitting the start line within seconds of each other in a dramatic demonstration of power and something akin to poetry in motion, their jet-black sails overlapping each other.
The white-hulled Ranger, the weather boat, was first to tack away, soon followed by Topaz. Meanwhile Velsheda and Svea stayed on their starboard tack for what would prove to be a decisive few minutes, with the pair establishing a narrow lead at the first mark which they would hold to the finish.
For Velsheda the win marked a remarkable bounce back from her fourth place in the previous race. Her captain Barney Henshaw-Depledge said: “Today we managed the beats well and we managed to get around in front of Svea.
“It was obviously a lot more encouraging and the owner was locked in on the helm and he left very happy. As for tomorrow, well may be more of the same, and it’s great to be back in the pack.”
Meanwhile Svea’s second place saw her slightly extend her lead at the top of the J Class table to two points from Velsheda, while Topaz – who finished fourth today – are tied on points with Ranger who recorded her second third place finish.
Another competitor producing a dramatic reversal of fortune was the clearly potent Wally 80 Rose. Though at 23m the smallest entry at this year’s Superyacht Cup Palma, Rose took a deserved win in Class A having had to drop out of Thursday’s opening race after suffering prop issues.
Tactician Jesper Radich said: “It was not easy as it was a tricky forecast, but we got round the racecourse really well and picked our shift at the end to win our class. If we do really well tomorrow, we have a chance of the top spot, so we are going to give it a shot.
“We are a new team and the smallest yacht here, so we have a lot to learn, and fighting against the big boats is tough. We have to play it smart and stay out of their wind shadows.”
And in another remarkable outcome, Class B saw the race result decided by a single second on corrected time, with the 27m modern classic Savannah edging the far larger 46m Ganesha to take her second successive win.
Ganesha’s tactician Mark Sadler smiled and said: “To finish the day with a one second delta to the first boat is pretty fantastic. Obviously, you look back and think where that one second could have been gained or lost, but it’s the same for the other boat.
“We sailed well today, and Ganesha’s a big boat so getting the sails up and down around the course is an achievement in itself. We have two seconds, so it’s all to play for tomorrow.”
Racing complete the Real Club Náutico de Palma hosted the North Sails Happy Hour and daily prize-giving on their expansive terrace. This was followed by one of the highlights of Superyacht Cup Palma, the exclusive Owners’ Summer Barbecue at Mallorca’s best address the St. Regis Mardavall Mallorca Resort.
The 2022 edition of Europe’s longest-running superyacht regatta comes to a conclusion on Saturday with the St. Regis Race Day, which will decide the final placings of a closely contested regatta.