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J Class provide the perfect launchpad for Superyacht Cup Palma 2022

by Daphne Morgan Barnicoat 30 Jun 06:36 NZST 29 June - 2 July 2022
J Class open the Superyacht Cup Palma 2022 © Sailing Energy

Superyacht Cup Palma 2022 got off to a flying start today with a quartet of J Class yachts conducting a superb symphony of sail racing out on the Bay of Palma to launch the latest edition of Europe's longest-running superyacht regatta.

Two windward-leeward races in near perfect sailing conditions of 10 to 14 knots, saw the awe-inspiring 40m-plus J Class yachts - Ranger, Svea, Topaz and Velsheda - put on a masterclass of close-quarter racing, slick crew work and active tactical decision-making that saw the lead on the water changing on almost a leg-by-leg basis.

In the opening race the competition within the class was self-evident from the off, with Ranger over the line early in the fleet start and having to recross the line. At the top mark Topaz narrowly led Svea and Velsheda, with a hard-charging Ranger hot on their heels amid a determined fightback.

The decisive moment in the race came at the end of the first lap of two, with Topaz and Svea neck-and-neck but rounding opposite ends of the downwind gate, with Svea's decision to take the left hand side of the upwind leg giving her a clear lead she was able to hold to the finish, taking the first race win ahead of Topaz, Ranger and Velsheda.

"The race win was a bit of a surprise, but we were very happy with that," said Bouwe Bekking, tactician on Svea. "We were in the mix and that is the most important thing for us - we have no expectations being on the boat for the first time with a new team.

"But we were very happy the way we got around the track. We passed some boats, which is always good, so the crew work is going well and it all came together. The last race we were all within 20 seconds, and we lost out, and that's sometimes the way it goes."

With Palma's fabled sea breeze now fully up and running, race two delivered a second instalment of top-line racing in brisk conditions, with correctly calling changes in the direction of the wind again proving the key to success. This time it was Velsheda that edged out a lead at the top mark, one that she was able to hold on the water to what was a tight fleet finish.

However, when the J Class rating system - designed to level the playing field for yachts of varied age, weight and construction - came into play it was Topaz that took the win with Velsheda second, followed by Ranger and, in a brisk change of fortune, Svea.

Topaz's delighted race manager Tim Kroger said: "It was absolutely wonderful out there today, Palma at its best, Superyacht Cup at its best. It was a cool start off for us with the Js, and being together again with four boats on the startline is just a wonderful experience. We are all chuffed and blessed, and it's really great.

"We had very, very close racing, not just on the water but also on corrected time and there were just seconds between us."

And he added: "It is important to sail really, really well if you want to win. It's not easy out there, all the boats have magnificent crews, very polished, very good guys. We are very humble in our approach, so it will be a hard battle to the last day."

Overall the J Class leaderboard has Topaz on top with three points, Svea second on five, and Velsheda and Ranger tied on six points. Thursday sees the J Class foursome join the rest of the Superyacht Cup fleet for three further days of intense racing when they will be racing for the overall Superyacht Cup 2022 trophy.

"We knew that the J Class was going to bring a special element to Superyacht Cup Palma, and today has demonstrated that, it has been fantastic to have the fabulous four getting the whole event under way," said SYC Event Director Kate Branagh.

"Tomorrow the rest of the fleet will also be in action, and we expect that the other two classes racing will be equally competitive, with all aiming for the overall Superyacht Cup Palma trophy."

Back ashore and the highly valued social side of Superyacht Cup Palma got under way courtesy of SYC's long-term race manager partner, and now host, the Real Club Náutico de Palma.

The captain's briefing in RCNP's Great Hall was followed by the Welcome Cocktail presented by SYC's Destination Partner New Zealand and DYT Yacht Transport on the RCNP terrace.

Thursday's Pantaenius Race Day will see the whole SYC fleet swing into action, followed by the North Sails & Southern Spars happy hour on the RCNP terrace. New Zealand Race Day on Friday and Saturday's concluding St. Regis Race Day - supported by SYC's Preferred Hotel Partner the St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, part of Marriott International - completes the itinerary.

Also present during the regatta, alongside Official Timepiece Jaquet Droz, other SYC partners and friends include Silver Partners Astilleros de Mallorca, Evolution Sails, Gottifredi Maffioli, RSB Rigging, Marinepool, Vitters Shipyard, Baltic Yachts and Hoek Design.

For the results of the J Class racing today, please go to the J Class website.

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