Vuelta a España Trophy: New Spanish sailing challenge underway

credit Delphine Trenacosta, MaxiCat Victoria, Vuelta a España Sailing Record

Spanish ocean racer Alex Pella has launched his bid for the Vuelta a España Trophy, a new annual challenge course around the Iberian peninsula between Bilbao and Barcelona.

The crew aboard the MaxiCat Victoria had been on standby in the northeastern port city of Bilbao, with the 33.5m multihull, awaiting the right weather before embarking on the 1500-nautical mile race against time. They set sail on Saturday afternoon (23 September 2023).

The current record was set by the López-Doriga brothers in 2006 aboard the yacht Arte y Naturaleza — Art and Nature — in a time of 12 days and 13 hours, a target time that Pella aspires to halve aboard Victoria, formerly Club Med and Maiden 2.

The attempt is the first step for Pella’s crew as they prepare for another new challenge, the round-the-world Elcano Oceanic Trophy in 2025. The Elcano is set to celebrate the first circumnavigation of the earth by the Spanish captain Juan Sebastian Elcano just over 500 years ago in 1522.

“The Vuelta a España combines the harshness of the Bay of Biscay, the mythical passage of Finisterre, the coast of Portugal, the complicated Strait of Gibraltar and the perpetually unpredictable Mediterranean Sea,” says Pella. “Plus the start and finish lines in the ports of Bilbao or Barcelona are truly spectacular.”

The recently announced Vuelta a España Trophy challenge can be sailed in either direction between the timing lines at the wind farm in the port of Bilbao and the W hotel in Barcelona, and in any qualifying yacht, with a perpetual annual trophy awarded to the fastest challenger in any calendar year.

Created by OpenSea, with the close engagement of the Real Club Náutico de Barcelona and the Real Club Marítimo del Abra – Real Sporting Club in Bilbao, the Vuelta a España Trophy aims to highlight the challenge that sailing around the Iberian Peninsula presents, and to set a new record for international crews to take on.

“It is a trophy with enormous potential, with a view to becoming a benchmark event for international teams and especially for the French fleet of large ocean-going multihulls,” says Pella.

Main image courtesy of Delphine Trenacosta, MaxiCat Victoria.

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