• Beau Geste In The Drivers Seat In Copa



    Fresh from winning The Hague Offshore Sailing World Championship, Karl Kwok and Team Beau Geste, guided by tactician Gavin Brady, are on course to make their first visit to the famous Copa del Rey a winning one.

    With another two windward-leeward race victories today, in gentle 7-9kts sea breezes at 37 Copa del Rey MAPFRE, in the highly competitive Sotheby’s Mallorca IRC Class 1, the Royal Hong Kong YC flagged Botin 52 sits atop four chasing TP52s with a lead now at 14pts after eight races on the Bay of Palma. Beau Geste are starting well, sailing very clean and smartly and are well optimised for the lighter conditions, their design being slightly more powerful than the class legal TP52s, carrying slightly more mainsail area and less keel weight. Behind them only five points separates Jean-Luc Petithuguenin’s 2015 built Paprec Recyclage in second. In third is Vadim Yakimenko’s TP52 Freccia Rossa, which won Copa del Rey in its original colours as Audi All4One and which has won the ORC Worlds three times, fourth is Tina Plattner’s The Phoenix which has Ed Baird calling tactics.


    all images © carlo borlenghi






    The Phoenix’s Tom Burnham acknowledges, “The Beau Geste is sailing really well, it is a good boat, sailed well with a good rating. They are not making many mistakes. They are getting the first shifts and that is making a difference they have not missed them very often, for the most part they are starting well. We give them about three boat lengths over a race course so it is not very much at all. They are also sailing very well and so deserve a lot of credit for how well they are doing.”

    Kwok’s team are sailing themselves into contention to win the Copa del Rey for their first time. Others who have already risen to the top of their fleets are what might be considered ‘usual suspects’, even if some have moved classes. In the case of Copa del Rey legend, Spanish sailing impresario and skipper Pedro Campos, this could be his 11th Copa del Rey win. On the helm of Bribon in the 6M Classic fleet they have won all of their races so far and show no signs of being overhauled.

    The core crew are longstanding Bribon sailors including Canadian double Olympic medallist Ross MacDonald on tactics and Alberto Viejo and Roi Alvarez. Viejo sailed on Bribons since 2001.

    And if Bribon won it would be the sixth time after 1984 and 1985 in Frers two tonners, in 1994 in a Farr 44, in 2000 it was a Farr 53 and most recently the TP52 in 2011.

    In BMW ORC Class 1 Nacho Montes and Oscar Chaves’ Mills designed Dk46 Estrella Damm were on a tear until the fifth they scored when a jib track pulled off the deck.











    Their crew is a bit of a Spanish ‘all-star’ Estrella team including helm Luis Doreste Martinez of North Sails, some time singer and double Laser Olympian, navigator Gonzalo Infante, and tactician Pichu Torcida, past J/80 World Champion. But today they were twice beaten by their Swan 45 memesis, Rats of Fire which is now just two points behind Estrella Damm.

    Their winning fizz may have dissipated slightly in terms of co-owner Montes seeking to lift his Copa del Rey class title for the second time, exactly 20 years after he won on a Beneteau 40.7 Estrella Damm. His team then were the last single overall Cup victors before multiple class Copa awards came in in 1998.

    The ClubSwan 50 Class is closer than ever after today’s two races which were won by Vladimir Liubomirov’s Bronenosec and Stefan Heidreich’s Onegroup. Already half of the 10 boat fleet have won races now. But it was not such a good day for leaders NiRaMo and Earlybird which aggregated 12 and 11 points respectively. Earlybird’s tactician Jochen Schümann was confounded by the unusual breeze pattern today, right bananas upwind instead of the usual left bananas, but he was pleased they shaved one point off the lead of NiRaMo.

    He commented: “In terms of the scoreboard we did OK, we gained a point on the leader. But otherwise it was a shocker. I can’t deal with this right hand side paying so much. Normally Palma is about left side bananas and this week we have right hand bananas, more right at the top of the course than at the bottom. So we see bad starts, tacking away to the right and comes back in the lead at the top mark. We try to do good things in the middle and the right hand boats all come in ahead.”











    “Jesper (Bank, on NiRaMo) is having a great week, winning the first two races set him up but he is doing great things this week. We share the wins with five or six boats and so we cannot fight each other, there are too many boats around and Cuordileone is catching. We need to sail better ourselves. We need to pick the shifts are better. The level is good, the newer guys know how to handle them, there are good guys in the fleet and it is close. We lead the development and we shared our experience and now we are enjoying top level one design racing and we are enjoying all the close racing. It is not always about winning, it is about enjoying the close competition.”

    And in the Maxi72 fleet, racing as Sotheby’s Mallorca IRC Class 0, Momo won twice today and is now six points clear off Cannonball.

    Michele Ivaldi the navigator on Momo recalled, “It was a really open course despite this being Palma. The scoreboard does not reflect how close the racing is as Cannonball is really fast and they are racing really well. We may have a little edge which helps out at times as soon as the breeze picks up, but all the starts, the first beat and the top marks are very, very tight. Both first marks today all three boats were overlapped within two lengths, it is that close. At the worlds we will have six boats. You need to keep improving. We had a nice edge last year and not all of that is still there. This is our test bench for the worlds in Costa Smeralda next month.”

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    Three teams have a grasp on their Copa del Rey titles with one day of racing at the record breaking 37 Copa del Rey MAPFRE but as Saturday’s final races beckon other premier classes became even closer.

    The skipper they call ‘Mr Copa’, Pedro Campos, is tonight on the threshold of extending his record to an 11th Copa del Rey title, set to win the 6 Metre Classic division in Bribon with an unblemished score line of seven firsts from the seven starts so far.

    Campos commented, “We are very pleased with this latest victory in the Copa del Rey MAPFRE, especially after winning all the races. That is something we've never done before. Personally for me this is my 11th Copa del Rey MAPFRE win, the sixth in a row, which are records for the regatta. This title is dedicated to our great skipper, King Juan Carlos, who sadly cannot be with us due to physical problems.”
    He added, “ This has been a week of fantastic conditions for racing, with steady winds, but in our class it was challenging because of the short waves generated by the Embat sea breeze.”

    In the Sotheby’s Mallorca IRC 0 class, Dieter Schoen’s Vrolijk Maxi72 has all but sealed the title after a first and third today, while it also appears to be ‘mission accomplished’ for Team Beau Geste in Sotheby’s Mallorca IRC 1 where Kark Kwok’s team are going into the final day of the showcase regatta with a lead of 17 points over Tina Plattner’s The Phoenix.

    Momo won the first race and took third in their second race today and with three boats in their class cannot be beaten, so defend the title they won last year on the last day when there were four boats.

    Markus Wieser, tactician commented, “Winning is the norm. It has to be. If you lose here then something is wrong and it’s a disappointment. But we sailed really well. The boat is going well since we made the changes. Last year we were not strong under 11kts and it is better here. But it is long regatta, six days we would say is long in the heat. Five days or four days would be much better for us.”

    And so too it is very much a case of ‘job done’ for first time visitors from Hong Kong, Team Beau Geste which should add the Copa del Rey title to the substantial list of team titles over the years, the first time the team have been in Europe since 2008 in Europe on the Maxi of the same name.

    Beau Geste’s Gavin Brady who lead the team to the Offshore Worlds title two weeks ago in Holland said “We picked this regatta because it is the premier regatta in Europe for this kind of inshore racing. There is nothing better. It is a high quality regatta which is similar in a way to Hamilton Island ‘down under’ where, like here, they just know how to run a really, really good regatta.”

    Of their 17pt margin Brady added, “We did not expect to get the scoreline we did, not given the level of competition here and the range conditions, but I think that being into our third week of sailing the boat in the last month we come here with a lot of confidence in ourselves and the boat. We probably have done more sailing on a TP52 in the last month than any other team in the fleet and when it comes to finding speed and doing smooth manoeuvres then that helps.”

    These classes may be all over bar popping the champagne and picking up the silverware, others are poised on a knife edge. After today’s Coastal Race for the ClubSwan 50s there is now just one point between new class leaders, Henrik Brandis’ Earlybird and rivals NiRaMo, owned by Sönke Meier. With Jochen Schümann calling tactics Earlybird finished second today while the coastal proved to be NiRaMo’s discard result, a tenth.

    In fourth overall Leonardo Ferragamo and the crew on the emblematic Italian Cuordileone, with GBR gold medallist Paul Goodison as tactician, are doing all they can to break up an otherwise all-German podium.

    And BMW ORC 1 class’ all Spanish rivalry is every bit as closely fought and highly charged as the Teutonic duelling in the premier Swan fleet. Estrella Damm, the DK46 of Nacho Montes and Oscar Chaves won today while their arch nemesis Rats on Fire, the Swan 45 of Rafael Carbonell Pujol, placed third. With four points between the runaway top two, and both having a fifth place as their discard, Estrella Damm are on course to spoil defending title holders Rats on Fire’s quest to win a sixth Copa del Rey title.

    Prada America’s Cup team helm Francesco Bruni is doing a good job as tactician to owner driver Alessandro Rombelli’s Italian crew on Stig as the Melges 40 class makes its Copa del Rey debut. Stig are five points clear of the Japanese entry Sikon of owner-helm Yukihiro Ishida.

    Rombelli said:” Racing at Copa del Rey is always fantastic and being part of this regatta, sailing on a Melges 40 is something really special.. In the first two races we saw our competitors and in particular Sikon playing very hard to reduce the gap we lead by but in the last race our team made a perfect job winning the race and defending our leadership. Tomorrow it will be another great fight on the Melges 40 Grand Prix and we'll do our best to see the name of Stig in the top position.”

    And in the GC32 Racing Tour event Leigh McMillan and the crew of Sir Ben Ainslie’s INEOS Team UK are keeping Franck Cammas’ Norauto at bay, leading by six points into the final day.

    All classes race Saturday with the final time limit for the last time signal 1545h.


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