ClubSwan 50 Fleet. © Nico Martínez/Copa del Rey MAPFRE

ClubSwan 50 Fleet. © Nico Martínez/Copa del Rey MAPFRE

Bay of Palma set to welcome the 41st Copa del Rey MAPFRE


30/07/2023 - 17:39

With racing at the 41st Copa del Rey MAPFRE due to start Monday on the Bay of Palma, the weekend has seen final tuning and preparations being completed, as nearly 100 teams, representing 16 different nations, are set to line up in eight different classes at the Mediterranean's summer showcase regatta over the coming week.

Four classes will race on corrected time under the ORC rating system and four one design classes in real time, first across the line wins. The Herbalife J/70s and the Sotheby's Women's Cup start racing Tuesday, all others are scheduled to have their first competitions on Monday.

Manuel Fraga, director of the Copa del Rey MAPFRE, explained what he expects from this 41st edition: "We hope it follows the successful 40th edition, which was historic and was a success in all aspects, both social and sporting. At the RCNP we have been organising the Copa del Rey for four decades, but in 2023 we celebrate 75 years of positioning Mallorca on the world sailing map. It is a huge responsibility to defend that heritage and maintain the level, but we can achieve this thanks to the support of our sponsors and the commitment of our entire team, who feel the regatta as their own".

The four ORC classes are this year sponsored by Majorica, the globally renowned brand of Mallorcan pearl jewellery. On Monday these classes will race a mix of coastal races, of between 15 and 40 nautical miles depending on the conditions, and windward-leeward races.

H.M. King Felipe VI of Spain, who raced for Spain at the 1992 Olympics in the Soling class and finished sixth, has been out training with the crew of the Spanish Navy's 2005 TP52 Aifos twice over the last three days and is clearly intent on putting in a strong performance, ideally bettering the fifth place that Aifos gained in 2022.

The Majorica ORC fleet represents more than half the total entry. Majorica ORC 1 title favourites on paper might be Nacho Montes' DK46 Estrella Damm which has Luis Martinez Doreste steering. They are looking for their fourth title, having last won in 2019, but they will – as ever – face some tough competition.

From France comes Frederic Puzin's well-travelled, successful Ker 46 Daguet 3 Corum which has previously podiumed on the Rolex Caribbean 600, the Rolex Middle Sea Race and was fourth in class on the 2019 Rolex Sydney Hobart. And Giovanni Di Vincenzo's Italian Ker 46 sistership to Daguet 3 Corum, Lisa R, which got the upper hand between the two Ker 46s at last year's ORC World Championships. Doubtless that rivalry will resume on the Bay of Palma over the coming week. Also likely to be among the podium finishers will be Argentina's Swan 45 From Now On which was runner up at the ORC Worlds behind Beau Geste and is run by Cole Parada.

Majorica ORC 2 has 14 entries and the favourite is defending title holder Javier Banderas' CS42 Teatro Soho Caixabank. Among those with a strong track record is the updated Rodman 42 Maverta of Pedro Gil which was fourth last year.

In Majorica ORC 3 Scugnizza, Vicenzo De Blasio's Matteo Polli designed ORC Italia 11.98 is back to defend their 2022 title but among their closest rivals will be their Italian sistership Concrete Investing To Be which finished just behind them at the ORC World Championships.

In ORC 4, Arturo Montes' Ybarra-Befesa, the first Paralympic skipper in the history of the Copa del Rey MAPFRE, will be among the top challengers.

The highly competitive ClubSwan 50 has attracted nine top quality teams which include Olympic medallists, America's Cup and Round the World racers among their crew lineups. Defending champions here are Germany's Markus Brennecke and the Hatari crew which is led by Markus Wieser tactician. Among the other teams to have won here are Leonardo Ferragamo's Cuordileone which has Manu Weiler as tactican and three times Copa del Rey class winners, EarlyBird. Owner-driver Hendrik Brandis won in 2017, 2018 and 2021 and this year has Brasil's five times Olympic medalist Robert Scheidt as tactician.

Scheidt enthused, "I think we are looking forwards to improving here, we had a tough start to the season but we are getting better, we struggled in Porto Cervo and Vilasimius a bit, but we have the potential to sail much better this week, the energy is good in the boat and I think the speed is good and we had a good practice race. The boat has a good record here, Hendrik loves to sail here at this event and I have a good track record here in the Laser and the Star, many many regattas and big boats. And I love the Copa del Rey it is definitely one of the real highlights of the year, I like the Bay of Palma it is about sailing well and using the little oscillations and we have reliable breeze every day, it is a great place and a great venue."

In the ClubSwan 42 class there are eight entries. Top seed is probably the world champions Nadir, Pedro Vaquer's crew which has multiple J/80 world champion Rayco Tabares as tactician. Mirko Bargolinni's Italian team on Koyré Spirit of Nerina were runners up last year and have Gabriele Benussi calling tactics while Britain's 2016 Olympic 470 gold medallist Saskia Clark is tactician on Barry Sampson's Long Echo.

The 41st Copa del Rey MAPFRE is organised by the Real Club Náutico de Palma and the Real Federación Española de Vela, with the sponsorship of MAPFRE and the institutional collaboration of the Govern de les Illes Balears, the Ayuntamiento de Palma, the Autoritat Portuaria de Balears and the Federación Balear de Vela.

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