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Ready to race at Mallorca's 39 Copa del Rey MAPFRE

by 39 Copa del Rey MAPFRE 1 Aug 2021 22:00 PDT 31 July - 7 August 2021
ClubSwan 50 fleet - 39 Copa del Rey MAPFRE © Nico Martimez / Martinez Studio

The long awaited, highly anticipated 39th edition of the Copa del Rey MAPFRE starts on the Bay of Palma on Monday welcoming 105 crews in nine different classes to the famous showpiece race areas which usually deliver some of the most reliable sea breeze conditions on the Mediterranean.

Thunderstorms and rain Saturday night cleared the air somewhat, giving way to very slightly cooler temperatures and a little less humidity and finally, after some waiting this afternoon, a decent breeze for the final practice race.

But while this longstanding event's glitzy social scene is taking a back seat this season, the priorities being preserving robust health protocols around the venue, on the water is should be very much back to business.

Seven champion crews return to the defend the titles they won when at the 38th edition in 2019 with competition on three different race courses. This edition there are no coastal races. And today King Felipe was on the water, joining the training race session on the updated, refitted TP52 Aifos 500 which race in BMW ORC 1.

In effect this 39th Copa del Rey MAPFRE will be the biggest multiclass event to be run in the Mediterranean this year so far. And with no event last year it is hard to consider there to be much of a form book for this edition.

The strongest class in terms of strength and depth is the ClubSwan 50 which has drawn 16 boats, the biggest fleet yet since the class first raced at the Copa del Rey in 2018. The Nautor ClubSwan one design classes enjoyed the Swan Sardinia Challenge in June in Porto Cervo.

Leonardo Ferragamo's Cuordilione are the defending 2019 Copa del Rey MAPFRE class champions but finished third in Sardinia in June behind the ClubSwan 50 Hatari which is owned by Marcus Brennecke and has Germany's Markus Wieser as tactician along with America's Cup winners Ross Halcrow and Dirk de Ridder in key crew roles. They must start as favourites on the Bay of Palma. Andrey Konogorov's Sparti finished runners up in June at Port Cervo and has Tomasso Chieffi and Tomislav Basic in their afterguard while Ferragamo's Cuordileone sails with Manu Weiler as tactician.

ClubSwan 50 World champion tactician Markus Wieser (GER)said, "You always have to remember this is a long, hot, hard week usually with a lot of races and so you have to really stay as cool as you can and not fry your brain and just take it day by day. We have a pretty good team on board who have now been together for four regattas including winning the worlds last year. And we were leading the practise race today before we pulled out. I think the weather has stabilised a bit after last night's thunderstorms so we should."

Vasco Vascotto (ITA) who is tactician on the Russian flagged Bronenosec 50 outlined, "This is a strong class for sure. This is a class which you have to learn very quickly or you will finish way behind. But right now I just feel very privileged to be racing here and to be sailing again after so long with the America's Cup and Covid. This is a great opportunity for everyone, for our community to go racing at a great event. The level is very high. You have gold medallists like Jochen Schümann and Tom Slingsby and many other great, great sailors. It is as usual. I just go out there and fight, fight, fight every day to do well."

Leonardo Ferragamo, owner-driver of Cuordileone and Chairman of Nautor Holdings smiled, "I have been an admirer of the Copa del Rey, for decades. Now to see a big participation of Swan yachts at this great regatta now is a dream come true. The Copa del Rey provides great scenarios and technical and fair racing and so it is very promising for this 2021 edition. I hope everyone has a lot of fun and fair racing. I am going to do my very, very best (to win again) but there are very, very good teams around. The 36 class is nice and the boat is great performing and has grown well. It has creating a great scenario. My son is on Thirty Six in the 36s. He had better do well or his other brother will take over!"

Of course the ClubSwan 36 division is a new class at the Copa del Rey MAPFRE. With 11 boats racing the fleet is knee deep in talent, some of it transitioning from the Melges one design classes. In Sardinia in June there were just three points separating the top three teams: Giangiacomo Serena di Lapigio's G-Spot was closely followed by Andrea Lacorte's Vitamina which won the ClubSwan 36 Gold Cup in Scarlino last year, sailing - as here- with Gabriele Benussi as tactician. G Spot Sailing Team were previously Melges 32 World League Champions and have Italian 2000 Olympian Michele Paoletti in the afterguard. Among the top contenders on the Bay of Palma will surely be the Fra Martini Sailing team of Turinese brothers Edoardo and Vanni Pavesio which has the combined talents of Luna Rossa's Francesco Bruni and past Melges 24 World Champion and Nacra 17 campaigner Lorenzo Bressani aboard.

"We are new to the class, we only did two regattas before and we are getting better with each one and so I hope we will be in the top three. I guess the other two Italian boars are the favourites, G Spot and Vitamina, but we give it everything and try to beat them." Said Bruni.

New to the fleet are the British flagged Black Seal team of Richard Thompson, who have also moved to the radical new 36 footer from the Melges 24 class where they were ranked number 1 in the world for two years.

The ClubSwan 42 sees the return of the 2019 champions the Romanian flagged Natalia of Natalia Brailoiu, project manager Luca Lanzillo (ITA) remarks, "The number of boats is quite similar to last time but of course there has been this pandemic and so we cannot really say what has been going on with people in this class. There are some fast boats because some people took the time to do some work on their boats, the level is a little bit higher."

"In the last two years we have just done the one regatta, the Nautor Swan Challenge in Porto Cervo in June and we were third, after one and a half years not racing that was just getting some rust off so I hope we can do better here and try and win again. We have good sensations, the boat is going fast I have been coming here since 2007 and it is an annual fixture for me. It means a lot to me to be here, to our owner, to the crew. Everyone here wants to win, but let's see!"

In Porto Cervo Pedro Vaquer Comas' ClubSwan 42 Nadir won her Class ahead of Koiré - Spirit of Nerina owned by Luca Formentini. Third place went to Natalia.

Sotheby's IRC Class 1 is very much the domain of the TP52s which race on corrected time. Top level 52 Super Series regulars are Andy Soriano's TP52 Alegre which won her class in 2018 and the French crew of Jean Luc Petithuguenin's Paprec, Paprec have finished on the podium several times and led in the interim stages but have not yet won the class.

Alegre's British navigator Will Best "In fact all the other TP52s know each other quite well, better than we know them for sure but I think we can do well. We all love this regatta as does Andy our owner and it is a great chance to do some sailing, even if this is our first regatta of the season. It will not be easy by any means, for example against one of the other TP52s we are giving them two minutes in 100, so we just need to stay out of the way and keep the boat going. It is good practice for us and good fun."

BMW ORC 1 is 12 boats strong and sees the class champions Estrella Damm, the team led by Luis Martinex Doreste back to defend their title. They have swapped their DK46 with which they were twice two top boat overall for an XP50. Double Laser Olympian Doreste has won Copa del Rey classes seven times and this time has Portugal's 470 Atlanta medallist Hugo Rocha as tactician, Roberto Molina - 470 Los Angeles gold medallist as trimmer and Gonzalo Infante as navigator. Martinez-Doreste said: "We have not had much time to train with this new boat, just a weekend and it really is a mystery. Compared to our rivals, we have no references. The whole fleet is strong, but I think the most competitive in ORC are the Swan 45, especially Rats on Fire and Porrón IX. It seems likely we will have conditions of up to 15 knots, which is good for us. I think there is a little more wind on Monday, but we are interested in a breeze, up to 13-14 knots."

BMW ORC 2 and BMW ORC 3 both see their titleholders return looking to win again. Jose Coello's Sinergia 40 won ORC 2 in 2019 but move to ORC 3 where they come up against last year's winners, the modified Sinergia 40 L'Immens-Laplaza Assessors.

Racing starts Monday at 1300hrs, local time.

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