Copa del Rey MAPFRE - tomorrow the startPalma de Mallorca, July 31 2016
Final tuning and training is completed on the bay of Palma. Racing at the 35 Copa del Rey MAPFRE starts tomorrow, Monday at 1300hrs CET for seven of the regatta’s eight classes. Competition and tension - and smiles and loud buzz in the many different languages which always prevail at this truly international gathering.
Old rivalries and friendships are rekindled. Newcomers are subtly seized up and welcomed with open arms around the beautiful surroundings of the Real Club Nautico de Palma.
A walk around the Club and the race docks reveal the quality of the crews competing for the 35 Copa del Rey MAPFRE. Among the international participants are the German three times Olympic gold medallist Jochen Schuemann; New Zealander Mike Sanderson, Volvo Ocean Race champion and world yachtsman of the year in 2006; American Terry Hutchinson, holder of five titles of TP52 class and voted best American yachtsman 2014; New Zealander John Cutler, Olympic medallist; Italian Vasco Vascotto, holder of 24 world titles; Dutchman Pieter van Nieuwenhuijzen, double America's Cup champion.
Spanish heroes enjoying their return to the club include Pepe Ribes and Pablo Arrate who have just been part of the Atlantic record crossing on Comanche. Rayco Tabares is three times world champion in the J80 class; Iker Martinez the double Olympic medallist; Chuny Bermudez, winner of the last Volvo Ocean Race; Guillermo Altadill, one of the leading experts of ocean sailing Spanish. There are many more.
The Copa del Rey MAPFRE is the fifth event on the Maxi72 circuit after Key West, Saint Barth’s, the RORC Caribbean 600 and the Maxi72 North American Championship in newport. Four Maxi72s race in the Montblanc Maxi72 Class.
Hap Fauth’s Vrolijk designed Bella Mente (USA) started the season with a win in Key West and triumphed in the North American Championship. Proteus, the Vrolijk design of George Sakellaris (USA) leads the circuit overall by one point from Dieter Schön’s Momo.
The Maxi72s race on corrected time under IRC. Bella Mente, Caol Ila and Proteus are at the maximum IRC rating of 1.611 while Momo races off 1.610 so gains about two seconds – one third of a boat length – from the other three. It is all but boat for boat racing and the four boats are very, evenly matched.
“We hope we can win. Dieter Schön, our owner is driving the boat really well at the moment. He is super relaxed. We have a core of six guys who race with us on the TP52 Platoon. We have had the same team for over one year now and that makes a difference.” Markus Wieser, Momo’s tactician explains,
“ We were second on the Caribbean 600, second in Saint Barth’s, second in Newport. It is very close. I think that ourselves and Bella Mente have just a little edge over the other boats.
“ We have a 50:50 chance. But it is easy to have a bad day and win the next day. Starting is key. You have to get off the start line at full pace. Even with four boats, unless you are at target speed off the start line you are straight away losing to other boats who have a clear lane. Sailing target speed all the time is important. If you are ahead early on then you can usually stay ahead. And if you are behind you get further behind. If you do two more tacks it is more and more difficult.”
Nine TP52s or TP52 derivatives start in The Singular Kitchen IRC Class. Four are regulars on the 52 SUPER SERIES – World Champions Azzurra, Andy Soriano’s Alegre, Jean Luc Petithuguenin’s Spirit of Malouen/Paprec and Xio Hurakan. At the 35 Copa del Rey MAPFRE the 52s race under IRC handicap in a fleet of 12 boats. The biggest boat in The Singular Kitchen IRC Class 1 is the Swan 80 Plis Play of Vicente Garcia Torres which has Spanish round the world star Pepe Ribes on board.
The Italian flagged team on Xio Hurakan, past ORC world champions, have an additional challenge to overcome at this regatta. One week ago their TP52 was damaged in an incident with Gladiator during the practice race for the Puerto Portals Sailing Week. They had to miss this third regatta of the season for the 52 SUPER SERIES because of this rig damage. But Tony Langley, British owner of Gladiator has leant his boat to Marco Serafini and the Xio Hurakan crew so they can fulfil their entry for the prestigious Mediterranean regatta which was due to be a highlight of their season.
After two days of practice with the boat which is a newer generation than theirs and from a different design house, theirs is this 2011 designed former Quantum Racing, Gladiator is a 2015 launch Vrolijk – the Xio crew are learning the different settings, but they are ready to race.
“Gladiator is a very different boat to ours. It is much quicker downwind. It is easier to sail fast downwind. After two days it is very early to say how it really is. But it is a really generous gesture by Tony Langley to give us his boat which is his pride and joy, I would not maybe as keen if it was mine, but at the end of the day we would all rather sail our own boats that we know. But at least we are here and we live to fight another day but thanks to Tony.” Xio’s navigator Marc Lagesse comments.
Favourites to win the Class must be Azzurra who have won the Copa del Rey in the TP52 Class, and also previously as Matador.
The MRW Swan 45 Class is richly laden with talent as the one design class works up to their Swan 45 World Championships in Porto Cervo in September. Three times Olympic champion Jochen Schümann sails Henrik Brandis’ German flagged Earlybird. Volvo Ocean Race skipper Bouwe Bekking races on the Dutch No Limits. Christian Plump’s Elena Nova won the Swan 45 fleet at Gaastra Palma Vela in May on these same waters.
Lief Loose (GER) mainsail trimmer and project manager Elena Nova reveals: “ We are only doing two regattas this season – this one and Palma Vela. The world championships in September in Porto Cervo really are the big one for us. This is out fourth season. We are still learning. Early Bird are good and have been in the class for ten years and have Jochen Schümann on board. Bouwe Bekking is on Esthec with the class president. We want to win and I think we have a good chance. But it would not be terrible if we did not, the world championships are the big one.”
Seven of the eight Classes start racing on Monday. Only the new GC32 foiling catamarans do not start racing until Wednesday but most have been training every day on the Bay.
BMW ORC Class 1 is the biggest fleet of the 126 boat regatta which had attracted 1400 sailors from 19 different nations. Favourites to win the class might be Rafael Carbonell’s Rats on Fire, the Swan 45 which has triumphed in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014. BMW ORC Class 2 has 26 entries. Pedro Campos who sails Movistar is the most decorated skippers in the history of the Copa del Rey. He has won eight Copa del Rey titles and sails with double Olympic medallist Iker Martinez on board. They will be hard to beat. The Air Europa X-35 class has eight boats competing. The Herbalife J/80s fleet is 16 strong.
35 Copa del Rey MAPFRE
Alejandro Varela +34 609 800 218
Helena Paz +34 659 293 291
Javier Sobrino +34 629 893 637
Clara Giraldo +34 661 346 534
Jose Luis Miró +34 606 444 861
Andi Robertson +44 (0) 7775 671973
Bárbara Besalduch + 34 649 987 999