After a weekend of preliminary build up onshore events and today’s official practice race, the 40th anniversary edition of the Copa del Rey MAPFRE opens with points racing on the Bay of Palma Monday.
The annual showcase regatta sees nine classes set to line up, four racing on corrected time under ORC handicap, four One Design classes including the ultra competitive ClubSwan 50 which made its debut here in 2017, the ClubSwan 36s, ClubSwan 42s and a J/70 fleet. The Mallorca Sotheby’s Women’s Cup is raced in J/80s.
This year’s event has attracted more than 100 teams racing under the national flags of nearly 20 nations.
Coming just three weeks after the Swan One Design World Championship in Valencia there are scores to settle, raw wounds to salve and rivalries to resume when the three ClubSwan classes start racing Monday.
In the 14 strong ClubSwan 50 fleet Henrik Brandis’ Earlybird are the Copa del Rey MAPFRE champions from 2021 and return to the Bay of Palma after finishing runners-up to Leonardo Ferragamo’s Cuordileone in Valencia. Brandis’ history at this regatta stretches back to 2012 when his Swan45 team finished runners-up in the RI 1 Class. Since then Earlybird won the ClubSwan Class in 2017 and were the inaugural victors when the ClubSwan 50s debuted in 2017 with six boats racing.
This year Earlybird will be without Australian Tom Slingsby who guided Brandis’ crew to victory last year. But the German flagged boat has double Olympic medallist and five times 470 World Champion Will Ryan calling tactics. The two Aussie stars sailed together on Earlybird at the worlds earlier in July and so there is a certain continuity.
Earlybird’s Lorenzo De Felice said, “Our hope is to give our best and finish on top of the podium again. We have Will (Ryan) here and no Tom (Slingsby) but they worked well together at the Worlds. We have some changes from last year, a new mastman for example, but it is important to have the same team as much as possible especially for the manoeuvres. The first three days are like a chance to warm up and then it gets serious. Last time after three days we were in eighth position and went on to win after finishing with firsts and seconds.”
Marcus Brennecke’s 2020 and 2021 ClubSwan 50 world champions Hatari are smarting after finishing fourth at this year’s World Championships and are out to prove their point here. The team which has Marcus Wieser as tactician would have won the official practice race had they not adhered to the superstition that winning on practice day brings bad luck.
Similarly to the 50’s the newly crowned ClubSwan 36 world champions are not here but the defending Copa del Rey MAPFRE title holders G-Spot return to defend. The class gets ever more competitive as G Spot’s Italian tactician Michele Paoletti highlights, “The class is very evenly matched, the level has gone up a lot since last year and practically every boat can win. It's all about reading the race course in the right way and not making mistakes. At the world championship of the class we had four boats tied at the top of the rankings in the last race, and that gives an idea how close it is now in this fleet".
Facing Future has Spain’s double Olympic medallist Iker Martinez as tactician, Goddess has Croatia’s 2018 470 medallist Sime Fantela as tactician and on board also is his brother Mihovil Fantela – with whom he won the 49er Worlds.
The ClubSwan 42 class is nine strong and the top seed is Pedro Vaquer’s new 2022 World Champions Nadir which has J/80 World Champion Rayco Tabares as tactician.
Among the classes there are six 2021 champions returning to defend their title: Óscar Chaves' DK46 HM Hospitales (2021 champion as Hydra) in BMW ORC 1, Javier Banderas' Swan 42 Teatro Soho Caixabank in BMW ORC 2, Earlybird in ClubSwan 50, G-Spot in ClubSwan 36, Marcelo Baltzer's Let it Be in Herbalife J/70 and Nuria Sánchez's J80 Dorsia Covirán in Mallorca Sotheby's Women's Cup.
The BMW ORC Class 1, with 19 entries, assembles some strong boats and teams which have been on the podium in this and other classes. There are four TP52s including the original, 2005 designed but updated, Farr designed Aifos on which SM King Felipe of Spain sails, Gerard Vogel’s well sailed French Arobas 2, Barcelona’s Toni Guiu‘s Blue Carbon and Germany’s Carl-Peter Forster with a young crew on Red Bandit. Defending their title will be HM Hospitales, the DK46 which has Spain’s 1996 gold medallists Kiko Sánchez Luna and Fernando León as tactician, "The class has become quite different and complicated with the inclusion of the big boats. We also have two other DK46 sisterships of ours, there are the Swans….It's going to be very competitive and a lot of fun. The forecast for the week is for an Embat, as always. The difference is that the water temperature is very high, and this may affect the development of the thermals a bit. I hope it will be as nice a week as ever.”
And in the BMW ORC 2 class, Teatro Soho Caixabank, the Swan 42, are the defending title holders, double Olympic medallist Luis Doreste, tactician says, “The ORC 2 fleet is more competitive this year. Last year there were two Swan 42s and this year there are three. Katarina is a Swan 42 set up for ORC with a keel change, they were second in the World Championship in Porto Cervo until practically the last day, it is a very competitive boat; and Elena Nova, who has done the whole Swan 42 campaign. In terms of conditions I think it will be a complicated week: we are seeing that the thermals are taking a while to come in, but we will have to wait and see how the week develops".
BMW ORC Class 3 has 21 entries and is wide open. It is the most international class with teams from eight different nations. Top seeds might be considered to be Vincenzo de Blasio’s Scugnizza, the Italia 11.98 from Napoli which was runner up at last year’s Copa del Rey MAPFRE. Potential title rivals include Kai Mares’ young German crew from Kiel on the Italia 9.98 Immac Fram which won PalmaVela here in May. Among the interesting new boats is Beneteau’s Sam Manuard designed First 36 Bip Bip.
Six days, a game of two halves
The competition program will consist of six days of racing (Monday August 1 to Saturday 6) for all classes except the Herbalife J70 and Mallorca Sotheby's Women's Cup, which will compete for five days (August 2 to 6). The format designed by the Organizing Committee divides the event into two phases: Preliminary Series and Final Series. The Preliminary Series will be held from Monday to Wednesday with up to five non-discardable races (eight for the J/70 and J/80). The position at the end of that phase defines the points with which each boat carries to the Final Series as of Thursday, Day 4 (the first classified will have one point, the second two points, the third three points, etc... ). The boat that accumulates the lowest score on the last day of regattas will receive the 40th Copa del Rey MAPFRE champion trophy at the awards ceremony to be held on Saturday, August 6, at the Ses Voltes venue, at the foot of the cathedral of Palma.