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Ibiza JoySail 2023 Day 1

by Ibiza JoySail 27 Sep 11:46 PDT 27-30 September 2023
Ibiza JoySail Day 1: Svea and Topaz in action in the first J-Class race © Sailing Energy

The J Class took centre stage on the opening day of Ibiza JoySail 2023. Svea and Topaz were the first to stretch their legs in the superyacht race that closes the Mediterranean season.

However, the conditions during the Palma-Ibiza crossing weren't favourable for a new record to be set and the yachts took a direct course to Ibiza to arrive in the late afternoon, all set for day two of Ibiza JoySail off the coast of Ibiza and Formentera.

Topaz, skippered by Peter Holmberg, and Svea, co-owned and skippered by Niklas Zennström, fought a true match race between two boats that trace their history back to the America's Cup of the 1930s. The J Class is a yacht first designed in 1903 by the American naval architect Nathanael Herreshoff, with an LOA of 36 metres and a displacement of 170 tons.

This is the first time that the J Class have sailed in Ibiza in what is a preamble to the 2024 World Championships in Barcelona, being held just before the 37th America's Cup.

Nacho Postigo, race director and navigator on Topaz, commented that "on the Palma-Ibiza crossing, the Committee tried to give two starting signals just by the islet of Tagomago and the town of Santa Eulàlia, but the wind dropped and it wasn't going to be". As for the J Class, he explained that "we were able to race with gentle winds, and a second race was started but the wind veered and really dropped, so the Committee rightly decided to cancel the race".

At 13:20, the Race Committee — chaired by Arianne Mainemare — gave the starting signal in a gentle southeast breeze of 5-6 knots, making the yachts sail on an equal footing in the early stages.

Topaz was the first to cross the starting line and take the lead, looking for port tack, while Svea was forced to take the left course of the racecourse.

As the first one-mile close-haul got closer, Svea — with Bouwe Bekking as tactician — snatched the lead, and from there made further headway right until the end, with a run and a final close-haul, winning in real time after 1 hour, 7 minutes and 57 seconds, while Topaz finished in 1 hour, 10 minutes and 13 seconds. A total of 4 miles.

Svea was launched in January 2017. She's the largest J Class ever built and was made from original designs penned by Swedish naval architect and shipbuilder, Tore Holm.

Sinbad Quiroga, the only Spanish crewmember on the Swedish boat, commented upon reaching Marina Ibiza that "Ibiza JoySail is a great trial for the World Championships and the perfect place where we can try out more daring manoeuvres with less pressure".

The superyachts set sail on Wednesday morning from STP Shipyard Palma bound for Marina Ibiza, but with no record option due to the calms that plague this part of the Med, with the wind barely reaching three knots. As a result, the Race Committee chaired by Gaspar Morey decided that the fleet would motor almost the entire crossing to reach Ibiza this afternoon.

That's why Juan Ball's Moat, who is also taking part in this year's Ibiza JoySail, will hold the record of 7 hours, 5 minutes and 30 seconds for another year.

Tomorrow, Thursday, the entire fleet of J Class and superyachts will be competing in all the events off the coast of Ibiza and Formentera.

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