Please select your home edition
Edition
Auckland On Water Boat Show

The Superyacht Cup 2014 - Fistful of J's primed in Palma

by The Superyacht Cup on 18 Jun 2014
The J Class practice day. The Superyacht Cup © http://www.thesuperyachtcup.com
The Superyacht Cup 2014 - Last year saw the first competitive regatta since 1937 to muster five spectacular J Class yachts. Over coming days at Palma, Mallorca’s showcase Superyacht Cup once again that modern day record is matched by probably the most competitive, closely matched fleet yet.

Hanuman, Lionheart, Ranger, Rainbow and Velsheda will race on Wednesday around a windward-leeward course for the historic King’s Hundred Guinea Cup which is a perpetual trophy for this race, before joining the 26 strong Superyacht Cup fleet for a schedule which includes one further windward-leeward and two coastal courses, Thursday to Saturday.

Winter refits which targeted extra speed have been completed – some more recently than others – and after last month’s Menorca Maxi regatta which attracted three boats, the stakes on the Bay of Palma and correspondingly the performance levels should be higher.

Menorca Maxi saw Lionheart dominate with a clean sweep of five wins. With a crew nucleus drawn from the current Dutch Volvo Ocean Race project Team Brunel including navigator Andrew Cape, under tactician Bouwe Bekking, they were unstoppable.

In Mahon last year’s Palma Superyacht Cup J Class winners Hanuman proved disappointed to end up in third. According to skipper-helm Ken Read their result was nothing short of a wake up call. But with three intervening weeks filled with hard work by sailmakers, boatbuilders and crew, Read believes they will be quicker, will sail better and so are in a stronger position to defend the J Class title they won here last year.

'Mahon was a real wake up call. We had not sailed in a long time and these boats are twitchy boats to sail. They are obviously monsters. And I don’t think I did a very good job sailing the boat. And we just had one of these regattas when we were out of sorts.' Read outlined aboard Hanuman on Palma’s STP shipyard dock this morning.

'Now, whenever you know there are going to be five J yachts on the start line that becomes your priority, you have to be here with your A Game. This regatta last year was spectacular. We pulled it out the bag last year and here we are. We have to defend.'

Around Europe’s J Class regattas last year honours were shared between Hanuman and Velsheda. The latter won in Saint Tropez and in Sardinia in 2013 and arrives in Palma very freshly prepared after a refit which started last November. Among the measures designed to increase all round potency Velsheda has had weight trimmed in various areas and added as keel ballast for an improved righting moment and they have upgraded hydraulic systems which deliver more power and faster line speeds to improve sail handling and trimming ability.

Velsheda’s long serving tactician, America’s Cup winning Kiwi Tom Dodson is passionate about J Class racing, enjoying being responsible for an historic racing yacht whilst at the same time rising to the constant challenge of making smart tactical decisions in a fleet which has grown, and races in ever closer contact, all the time requiring the careful management of more than 30 on board: 'We start dividing up the roles. We have a command thing going back and forwards with Juggy (Justin Clougher crew boss) and when he makes a call you have 35 people spring into action'

'Hydraulic power is in, more and more again. It is phenomenal to see the sheet speeds with many winches running at the same time. So now we have gone from setting up for a bottom mark rounding three minutes out to under two minutes now. And everything has to come together for these roundings.'

'That keeps your tactical options open. But once these boats slow down it takes a lot of speeding up. In light to medium airs that can easily be giving you a couple of boat lengths because of the extra speed you are getting out of the bottom mark. For instance the genoa used to take about one minute to hoist and now it is about 12 seconds, bottom to top.'

'You can be coming into the bottom mark with four other boats. I think people would be amazed. They’d be sitting there going ‘get it down fellas, get it down fellas, get it down’….and it’ll be just pushed in there in seconds. Top marks and gybes are all pretty crisp when you consider what has to go on.'

No clear favourite
Although he gruffly thinks others might see them as favourite here Dodson, like most around the J Class dock today, contends that this Palma Superyacht Cup regatta is wide open: 'People are saying to me we could finish anywhere from first to fifth here and not have sail much different.'

'We are just expecting close racing. If it is anything like last year it will be so impressive. I hope we get a couple of turns at it.'

Naturally the talent and experience aboard each of the five yachts is as would be expected. Volvo and Whitbread round the world race sailors form the core of many teams. Indeed there are a reasonably sizeable contingent of Volvo and Whitbread alumni with five races under their belts.


Team Brunel’s Bekking has four of his Volvo crew on Lionheart. Read’s roster on Hanuman includes double Olympic 470 medallist Kevin Burnham, three times America’s Cup winner Warwick Fleury and Volvo and America’s Cup sailors like Kimo Worthington, Tony Mutter, Jerry Kirby, Robbie Naismith. Alongside Dodson on the owner driven Velsheda Olympic silver medallist Don Cowie trims mainsheet. Ranger has multiple Whitbread and Volvo racer Erle Williams as skipper with Finn, 49er and Laser helm Dan Slater steering, Mike Quilter navigating and Murray Jones as tactician. Rainbow have America’s Cup sailors Francesco de Angelis as Michele Ivaldi as tactician and navigator.

Racing is expected to encounter light winds on the first day with the sea breezes picking up over the subsequent days. Start sequences are scheduled at 1300hrs local time each day.

Hamilton Island Luxurynavathome 660x82InSunSport - NZ

Related Articles

A regatta has a rest day, Around Oz has pit stops
As thousands of sailors today are enjoying the luxuries of Hamilton Island and the Whales of the Whitsundays As thousands of sailors are today (and yesterday for that matter) are enjoying the luxuries of Hamilton Island and the Whales of the Whitsundays, we look further into the concept of pit stop racing which will form an integral part of the 2017 Around Australia Yacht Race.
Posted on 23 Aug
Hamilton Island Race Week - Supermaxis battle on Day 2 + Video
Photographer Michael Chittenden is on the water at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week Photographer Michael Chittenden is on the water at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, and provided this gallery of images on a day when the supermaxi Scallywag beat Wild Oats XI for the first time. Bob Killick and Warwick Rooklyn commentate the video of Race Day 2
Posted on 23 Aug
Mid-week weekend at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week
Layday came early for the AHIRW fleet despite best efforts by the race committee to get some divisions racing out 2016 Audi Hamilton Island Race Week - Layday came early for the Audi Hamilton Island Race Week fleet despite best efforts by the race committee to get some divisions racing out on the Eastern course area, in the Turtle Bay vicinity.
Posted on 23 Aug
AHIRW Day 3 - Audi Hamilton Island Whale Watching Week
Day three saw no racing for any of the 252 entries at AHIRW, but there was plenty of people and whale watching 2016 Audi Hamilton Island Race Week - Day three saw no racing for any of the 252 entries at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, but there was plenty of people and whale watching to be done for the media! I have to say it is the best postponement I have had in my 20+ years of sailing!
Posted on 23 Aug
The Clipper Race turns 20!
Throughout the race, tales of crew celebrating birthdays on board filter back and they are always a special occasion Throughout the race, tales of Clipper Race crew celebrating their birthdays on board filter back and they are always a special occasion, likely to remain a completely unique event in their lifetime.
Posted on 23 Aug
AHIRW - Day 2 - Ichi Ban and Concubine in the Tavern
Another gorgeous day on Hamilton Island, but breeze was not entirely on board with keeping the on-water action up to par 2016 Audi Hamilton Island Race Week - Another gorgeous day on Hamilton Island, but the breeze was not entirely on board with keeping the on-water action up to par with the off-water activities!
Posted on 23 Aug
Infiniti 46 features Doyle Sails BR0 - Blast Reaching Zero - Video
Video of the Infiniti 46 at speed using Doyle Sails including a fore-sail that measures as a jib and is used for blast r Video of the Infiniti 46 at speed using Doyle Sails including a fore-sail that measures as a jib and is used for blast reaching. Designed by DSS-creator Hugh Welbourn the Infiniti 46 is 14.10m LOA, with a beam of 3.90m and a 3.35m draft. Her displacement is listed at 5300kg. She is full carbon construction.
Posted on 22 Aug
A magnificent fleet gathers in Cowes for Etchells World Championship
58 teams from all over the world have entered the championship, hosted by the Royal London Yacht Club. Twenty teams are from Great Britain and a dozen each from Australia and the United States of America. Four entries are from Hong Kong and as far afield as: Bermuda, Ireland, New Zealand, Portugal, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates.
Posted on 22 Aug
Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2016 - Day 1 Downwind Racing
With a backdrop of dark rain clouds, the fleet raced downwind from Lindeman Island to the finish in Dent Passage With a backdrop of dark rain clouds, the fleet raced downwind from Lindeman Island to the finish in Dent Passage getting a good soaking shortly after the video was shot.
Posted on 22 Aug
Time and tide on Day 2 of the Audi Hamilton Island Race Week
A light breeze and cloudy skies saw 12 of the 14 divisions scheduled for many island courses starting from Dent Passage. The Trailables Division led the vanguard at the first start gun, but it soon became apparent that plugging a strong south going current in such light breeze was going to make for a very slow and congested start to the day.
Posted on 22 Aug