Menorca Maxi - Sailing inside Mahón's stunning bay
by Pierre Orphanidis on 22 May 2014
Following Tuesday's spectacular conditions in Mahón, the Menorca Maxi race committee had to face a more complicated situation on Wednesday. The lumpy sea and light winds that prevailed off the mouth of Mahón's bay meant that boats and gear would have been put under a lot of unnecessary stress on the eve of the regatta. Putting safety to the forefront, the official practice races were cancelled after a short postponement ashore.
2014 Menorca Maxi © Jesus Renedo / Consell Insular de Menorca
Nevertheless, the 12 crews were eager to get a few more miles of testing and trialing under their belts and as a result, offered the hundreds of spectators lining the city waterfront a unique opportunity to watch the spectacular boats sailing inside Mahón's stunning bay. Although sailing inside the bay is strictly prohibited, port authorities made an exception and spectators were in for a treat.
The inaugural Menorca Maxi was officially presented earlier in the morning at the seat of Menorca's Island Council, sponsor of the regatta. Santiago Tadeo, President of Menorca's Island Council, welcomed the 12 teams and expressed his conviction that the event would be spectacular.
Racing at the inaugural Menorca Maxi starts in earnest on Thursday with two windward/leeward races. The first warning signal will be given at 12:30pm CET.
Legendary French sailor Marc Pajot, skipper and tactician onboard Tango G, commented: 'I was here in Menorca last summer on a cruise. The Wally class made an excellent decision in holding a regatta here. It's the start of the season, it isn't crowded, conditions will be good and it's a very beautiful place.'
'Although I have raced on Wallys in the past, this is the first time I do the entire Wally Class season with Tango G, her new owner and a crew that is half French, half Italian. It's a good mixture and our goal is to be the best among the three Wally80's racing here. It's difficult with our rating to beat the bigger boats but we think we can be competitive in the Wally80 fleet.'
'I have never raced on these waters but this shouldn't impede my job as tactician. In fact, we all are professionals here and it's our task to adapt to local conditions. In addition, even when you race in a place you think you know well, you can still make mistakes. You always have to be attentive and opportunistic, wherever you sail.'
Murray Jones, calling tactics on Ranger, was anxious to hit the water for his first regatta ever on a J Class boat but supported the Race Committee's decision to cancel the official practice race: 'The seas were too big and it was quite light wind so it would have been pretty hard for the gear and the boats.'
Commenting on the Menorca Maxi, Jones stated: 'This is the first time I've come here and I was impressed. It is a beautiful sailing area with a nice port. This is also the first time I've sailed on a J Class and this is something I always wanted to do.'
'The Js are incredible, powerful boats and after sailing on multihulls for the last six years, this is something totally different. It's a completely different style of sailing but it is impressive. My job as a tactician is also totally different. Things happen very slowly but on the other hand, you have to plan well in advance, minutes in advance. With a crew of 26 to 28 people, you need a lot of communication through the whole crew to prepare the next manoeuvres and very often you can't change your mind quickly.'
'After all, this is sailing as well. You still need to spot the windshifts, you just do things differently.'
The event is an initiative of the Island Council of Menorca and is organized by Club Marítimo de Mahón, with the support of Port of Mahón, one of the Mediterranean's biggest and most beautiful ports. Being chosen by two of the world's most prestigious superyacht classes is a clear demonstration of Menorca's know-how and ability to hold world-class sailing events.