Rivals and new contenders head for The Superyacht Cup Palma

Old battles will be rejoined and new rivalries forged when the 22nd Superyacht Cup gets underway this coming June in what is one of the most hotly anticipated yacht racing events of the year.

No fewer than 19 of the most impressive yachts on the planet have already signed-up, including four of the illustrious J-Class yachts who will be making their first appearance since 2014 at Europe’s longest running and largest superyacht regatta.

After a relatively smaller if no less classy 2017 when the event coincided with the America’s Cup Superyacht Regatta in Bermuda, the Palma-based Superyacht Cup will see old friends and old rivals mixed in with new competitors across four days of racing.

“Since the Superyacht Cup started back in 1997 it has grown and developed its own unique mixture of regular participants, repeat visitors and new boats, it really is like a family gathering as so many of the crews and owners know each other,” said Event Manager Kate Branagh.

“It’s got a real reunion-style atmosphere which is something very special. When they are out racing it is very competitive, but onshore it is very informal and relaxed. While the Superyacht Cup is exclusive in the sense that it is an invitation-only event, at the same time it remains very inclusive – it’s shorts and T-shirts on the dock and everyone gets an invite to the parties!” she added.

When this gathering gets to lock horns out on Palma Bay, it is the evocative J-Class yachts that will initiate proceedings on 20 June.

Pushed hard by international crews boasting America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race pedigrees, the J-Class will see the classic 1933-launched Velsheda go up against Svea, the newest addition to the fleet and – at 43.6m – the longest.

Meanwhile, Ranger – built in 2003 and the first of the ‘new age’ Js – and Topaz, another newbie, will also be competing, with another likely contender currently waiting in the wings.

Out in the superyacht classes there will be plenty looking to dislodge the overall 2017 defending champion Bolero, whose crew kept cool and consistent last time out when the pressure was on.

Class A winners in 2017, the Baltic-built flyer Win Win is a regular at the Superyacht Cup and will be looking for the overall title this year, as will the lightweight carbon and very fast Ribelle – second in 2017 – and the lean and very lime green Inoui.

Other regulars at the Palma regatta include the 45m Wally yacht Saudade, placed third in class last year and with three back-to-back Loro Piana Super Yacht Regatta wins in Porto Cervo to their credit, and Atalante, one of three distinctive Hoek Design entries.

Then there are the newcomers to the Superyacht Cup – Aquarius, Kealoha, Take Five, Highland Fling and Leopard 3, the latter two in particular with formidable racing credentials. Add in the giant 62m Athos, fresh from a four-year round-the-world cruise, Bolero, Ganesha and the Farr-designed ketch Sojana, and you have a regatta with both pace and pedigree.

After helping Saudade to her third in class last year as tactician, Superyacht Cup regular Bouwe Bekking paid fulsome tribute to both the Superyacht Cup and its Palma setting.

He said: “It’s really nice to come racing over here. The conditions are always superb, here you have guaranteed breeze. It’s what the owners want and it’s what we want, as you’re guaranteed to go racing.”

Bekking is committed elsewhere this year as skipper of Team Brunel in the Volvo Ocean Race but will clearly miss the Cup’s unique vibe: “It’s a really relaxed regatta. After racing there’s a very nice ambiance on the dock, the atmosphere is very laid-back, and everyone has a really good time.”

The long-standing event will again benefit from the support of its loyal partners St. Regis,100% Pure New Zealand, Baltic Yachts, Pendennis, Astilleros de Mallorca, Claasen, Pantaenius, Rondal, Gottifredi Maffioli, STP, Reckmann and Evolution Sails, as well as happy hour sponsors North Sails and Southern Spars.

The Superyacht Cup runs in Palma, Mallorca, from 19-23 June.
All photography is copyright Claire Matches.

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