After two great races in the Bay of Palma, Ganesha heads the leaderboard

Ganesha (ex-Zulu), the 38.9m sloop built by Fitzroy Yachts in 2005 leads the inaugural Dubois Cup after two races. Conditions in the Bay of Palma couldn’t have been better for the seven yachts which completed two 12-mile pursuit races in winds which averaged around 12 knots. The Alloy Yachts built Kokomo of London is currently in 2nd with another Fitzroy Yachts build, Midnight, in 3rd.

The breeze favoured the ‘lighter’ boats in the fleet, by which I mean the sub-200 tonners. The first three yachts displace 185 tons, 182 tons and 164 tons respectively but aboard Lang and Sue Walker’s 51.7m Alloy Yachts-built sloop Kokomo we not only had to contend with a displacement of almost 400 tons but your author was one of more than 50 crew and guests aboard! Extraordinarily the yacht didn’t seem that crowded with guests mingling on the flying bridge, the aft deck, the deck saloon and vast expanses of foredeck.

When I arrived onboard I was very politely told I was wearing ‘the wrong trousers’. Blue shorts were the order of the day and I had inadvertently turned up in khaki. I was immediately forgiven then asked to pull on a nifty Kokomo race shirt which had us all looking like America’s Cup heavies…

There was a phenomenal brains trust onboard with Lang Walker sharing the helm with Malcolm McKeon from the Dubois office, Peter Wilson from Marine Construction Management, skipper Adam Painter and North Sails man from Auckland, Paul ‘Casper’ Murray.

One of the advantages of yachts weighing over 300 tons is that they have to be fitted with AIS (automatic identification systems) so checking out the opposition on screen was a fun pastime in the absence of any ropes to pull – actually I did help retrieve the asymmetric sock, but that was about it. AIS gives a yacht’s heading, speed, track etc and is a very useful way of observing the progress of the fleet – for a chasing boat it’s a rather handy tool.

We were scratch boat for this regatta and as such started last in the pursuit sequence. By the finish of both races it was clear that the system was working fairly well and if we hadn’t put a twist in the A sail on the first hoist and if we’d gone through the gybes problem-free we would certainly have been a couple of places better off.

The fleet was down on numbers partly because Barry Houghton’s new Salperton, on her way from Alloy in New Zealand, was battling fierce weather in the Red Sea. Combined with a pit stop earlier in the trip she simply couldn’t make it so Barry was aboard Kokomo with a number of other present and future owners of Dubois designed yachts, all of whom were able to compare notes. Barry’s on his fourth Salperton and can’t wait for the new one to arrive.

Also onboard was UK property developer and sailor ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson who had just completed a global circumnavigation in his Jeanneau 46. He too had a Red Sea story to tell. As they were sailing north he and his wife were approached by a boat-load of suspicious-looking individuals clearly intent on boarding them. He described how, just as he thought they would try to board, another yacht hove into view and their very unwelcome guests thought better of it – it was a close shave.

Superyacht regattas like this are about fun racing – but often the conversation on board is as riveting as the competition. On both counts the Walkers, Kokomo and their guests served us very well. The Dubois Cup ends tomorrow after two more races.