Big boats line up thursday at Mallorca's 18th PalmaVela
The seven strong IRC Maxi/IMA class features four Wally yachts, a Nautor Swan 80, the Farr 100 footer Leopard and the Spanish flagged, Mills designed Vismara 68 Pelotari Project which has just won the PalmaVela long offshore race, the prelude to racing starting Thursday.
Long time rivalries are resumed on the Bay of Palma between the Wally Centos Galateia and Magic Carpet 3 whilst the most recent newcomers to the Maxi fleet are French owner Jean Luc Petithuguenin's Paprec Recyclage team which sails Spirit of Malouen X. They have made the step up in size from the TP52 and aim to return to what has historically been their first love – offshore and ocean racing.
"Jean Luc wants to race at least one Transatlantic and he wants to do the Transpac and so the TP52 was not the right boat for that. So we went looking something a bit bigger than the TP52. So we were walking around here and he fell in love with this boat and set his heart on it." Explains project manager Stephane Névé of the giant Wally 107 which was best known here on the Bay of Palma as the successful Open Season.
The Paprec core crew are primarily French, present and past members of the Paprec programmes and include French Volvo Ocean Race winner Laurent Pages who triumphed on Groupama 4 and sailed on Telefónica Blue in 2008-09 and as watch leader on Team Brunel. Yann and Cedric Chateau share strategy and nav duties while Women's Match Race World Champion Pauline Courtois is on the crew.
"Right now we have just done a few weekends and a week of training so we really are looking to just find our marks and see how we do lining up against these other boats but this is such a great opportunity for us and we are so happy to be here." Névé explains. And while they have no shortage of experience on board they have also stuck with their principles of bringing on young French talent not just to learn on the boat but also giving technical career opportunities in the shore team. "It is very important for us all to give the opportunities to young guys to get started and learn in a way that was not really available to us when we started out."
Magic Carpet 3 has German four times Olympic gold medallist Jochen Schuemann as tactician, Tom Whidden as strategist and Marcel van Triest as navigator whilst Galateia's afterguard comprises local Palma ace Jordi Calafat and Kiwi America's Cup legend Murray Jones as strategist and tactician respectively with Simon Fisher as navigator. Pelotari Project won at the last PalmaVela and has famous Spanish TV personality Emilio Aragón in a crew which includes Javier Banderas and Spanish Olympic gold medallists Luis Doreste and Domingo Manrique.
ORC Class 1 has 12 entries ranging in size from the Swan 65 Alpha Centauri to the GP42 Al Capone and the Neo 400 Stargazer. Returning to defend their class win at this regatta when it was last held in October last year is the TP52 AIFOS but this class splits this time means the potent Club Swan 42 Elena Nova – a many times winner on the Bay of Palma and Club Swan 50s are also in ORC Class 1.
There are five Club Swan 42s racing. Pedro Vaquer's Nadir is considered top seed having finished runners up at the 2021 Copa del Rey MAPFRE.
The Maxi Class is scheduled to sail a maximum of six races between Thursday and Sunday when the regatta finishes. The intention is to sail two coastal races and the rest will be windward-leewards. The Club Swan 42s race from Thursday with a schedule of only windward-leewards. The ORC classes start racing Friday and have one coastal race planned in their schedule of five races. The One Design Classes J80 and Dragón will sail a maximum of nine races and start on Friday.
The official presentation of the 18th edition of PalmaVela took place Wednesday at the host club the Real Club Náutico de Palma.
Manu Fraga who is the sport director of the RCNP commented, "After postponing this regatta in 2020 and having to change the dates in 2021 here we are in 2022 coming back with passion and strength. This edition will see almost one hundred teams, so we are talking about 1,500 sailors and in all there are 20 countries represented. As an organisation we have more than 150 people working on the water and at the club to make this event work well. And when we talk about PalmaVela you talk about one of the most important regattas in the Mediterranean an important event in which top professional sailors and amateur sailors compete."
Among the key guests were Carles Gonyalons, General Director of Sports of the Government of the Balearic Islands; Francisco Ducrós, Councilor for Sports of the Palma City Council; Xavier Ramis, General Director of Ports and Airports of the Balearic Islands; Dámaso Berenguer, commander of the Naval Sector of the Balearic Islands; Joana María Adrover, first deputy mayor of the Palma City Council and Councillor for residents Security; Jorge Forteza, Commodore of the RCNP and Patrick Harris, painter of the 9th PalmaVela Awards Collection.