The J Class, truly classic flagships and superyachts of all shape and size will make Superyacht Cup Palma the ideal event to kick off a special big-boat Med season

Palma is arguably the greatest place to arrange a sailing event in Europe. Why? Reliability. It boasts a wonderfully consistent warm seabreeze in the summer and there is easy access from the city’s big marinas onto the Bay of Palma, so you can be sailing in minutes. It also has a well-served airport hub, from which it’s only a 20-minute journey into these marinas.

And then, post sailing, you’re in the heart of a beautiful old city with its abundance of tapas bars and restaurants, where a quick sundowner can often lead to a memorable night.

Small wonder sailors return there to cruise or race every year and why it’s grown to become the superyacht mecca over the last couple of decades with its famed refit services surrounding the port. For sailing events, such as PalmaVela, one-design championships and the burgeoning Palma Yacht show, it’s ideal. And as far as the Superyacht Cup is concerned, the organisers have known all this for three decades of course.

They also know late June is the best time to run their friendly superyacht regatta, capitalising on those sea breezes and long balmy days. With the America’s Cup starting nearby in Barcelona later this summer, there’ll be an extra buzz to the event. “It’s going to be a special year for sailing in this part of the world, and we are all set to play our part in making it one to remember,” says SYC event director Kate Branagh.

Superyacht Cup Palma provides a stunning spectacle of superyachts being driven hard. Photo: Sailing Energy/The Superyacht Cup

As well as those lucky enough to crew aboard for the racing, the Superyacht Cup makes for quite the spectator event for those out day sailing. To see a J Class thunder past you a few boat lengths away while displacing 180 tonnes of the Med, is a sight to behold. The Superyacht Cup is a regular draw for the dazzling J Class, as the calmer waters of the bay help the crews fine-tune their favoured windward-leeward courses. This year the fleet is also preparing for the special America’s Cup J-Class regatta during the Cup in Barcelona in early October.

Velsheda, a past overall winner of the Superyacht Cup, is a stalwart of the event, while Svea, the newest and most tricked-up of the class, is the scratch J to beat. And it will be fantastic to see Rainbow back on the Palma racecourse after many years away and now fresh from a refit. The Js will have an extra day’s racing and do the timed fleet starts in a mix of windward-leeward and coastal races.

Other fine sights and matches to look forward to this year include a pair of Andre Hoek’s flagships from his much revered Truly Classic series. Rarely do eyes stray from the J Class when they’re in flight, but these supremely elegant TC128 sisterships will turn heads. Atalante and Vijonara, hulls numbers one and two from this spirit of tradition series, will line up for the first time against each other.

Both are more accustomed to cruising – indeed Atalante’s captain Michael Elias says they’ve been largely cruising the oceans in the eight years since their last visit to the Superyacht Cup.

J Class Svea will be back at the Superyacht Cup Palma and is always a contender for silverware. Photo: Sailing Energy/The Superyacht Cup

Maximum effect

The Superyacht Cup has a big pool of regulars, but this year there will be five debutants. The latest and greatest (by far in terms of size) is the new Vitters launch Maximus, which is as mighty as her gladiatorial name suggests. The 59m Frers design only finished sea trials in November, but has since completed two Atlantic crossings and competed in the St Barths Bucket in March.

Her towering ketch rigs can set over 3,900m2 of sail area – hence 50 hands are needed on deck to get Maximus around a track. Kate Branagh, who was one of those aboard in St Barth, confirms that all 50 are busy once on the race course!

Maximus’ owner was inspired by the timeless lines of the Frers/Pendennis ketch Rebecca and wanted a larger version. This new ketch has been optimised for performance by Frers, Southern Spars and Doyle to help it win regattas.

Photo: Sailing Energy/The Superyacht Cup

Another brand new yacht and SY Cup debutant to look out for is Calabash, the super stylish first of the new Y8 series from Y-Yachts. Two elements that make this particularly entrant an interesting bet are that it was designed by Mallorcan local Javier Jaudenes, whose Win Win project is a past SY Cup winner, plus it was built for the yard’s founder Michael Schmidt who is a highly experienced racing sailor.

The 28th Superyacht Cup Palma runs from 19-22 June. It is hosted from the Real Club Náutico de Palma, including the club’s expert race management, with the overall prizegiving taking place at the centrally located and lavishly equipped clubhouse.

It promises to be quite the way to kick off a huge season of big boat racing in the Med.

The 12 stunning superyachts set to compete in the Superyacht Cup Palma


Stats: 38.8m/128ft Sloop
Design: Hoek Design
Build: Claasen Shipyard 2015

One of the largest of Andrew Hoek’s revered spirit of tradition Truly Classic range, and the first in the particularly successful five strong TC128s, Atalante will be up against sistership Vijonara. This is Atalante’s first SY Cup in eight years after a prolonged period of long distance cruising and has a family and friends-oriented crew.

Photo: Tom Nitsch

Borkumriff IV

Stats: 51m/166ft Schooner
Design: Dykstra & John Alden
Build: Royal Huisman 2002

A late entry, what a sight this will make: a real pedigree classic schooner from a powerhouse of a design and build team, with lines by schooner specialist John G Alden, naval architecture by the Dykstra experts, and a polished mahogany panelled John Munford interior. Skippered by the affable and experienced Wijnand ‘Boogie’ van den Boogaard, she’ll want some breeze to stretch her legs.


Stats: 23.99m/80ft Sloop
Design: Surge Projects
Build: Y-Yachts 2024

The brand new Y8 is built for the yard’s founder Michael Schmidt and is the new Javier Jaudenes-styled version. Minimalist inside and out – there’s no backstay even – beamy (6.6m) and powerful, this carbon composite fast cruiser weighs only 37 tonnes lightships. Schmidt is both a veteran boatbuilder and highly experienced racer, from Admiral’s Cup days to current Dragon campaigns, so will have firm eyes on the prize and he knows Palma inside-out.


Stats: 39m/128ft Sloop
Design: Bill Tripp Design
Build: Vitters Shipyard 2009

The former Cinderella IV and G2 has some signature Bill Tripp styling, especially the squared deckhouse and the performance hull shape, which is all in carbon fibre and sports a lift keel. Her second deckhouse aft was removed during a major refit at Pendennis in 2017. Cervo has mainly cruised thus far, other than one Superyacht Challenge, but now has a keen owner-driver and a crew including the likes of North Sails’ Jens Christensen for tactics and Mike Joubert as crew boss – so they mean business.

Photo: Alex Turnbull

Dark Horse

Stats: 25.1m/82ft Sloop
Design: German Frers
Build: Nautor Swan 2013

One of the SY Cup debutants this year, the former Chessie competed in the Ibiza JoySail regatta last year so has some form in these waters. One of the 14 Swan 80s built, Dark Horse will be racing against her similarly-sized Swan stablemate Umiko, 13 years her elder. “The event is well known for its high-quality racing and fun ashore,” says her Maltese captain Sacha Pace. A dark horse for this event indeed.

Photo: Michael Kurtz


Stats: 59m/194ft Ketch
Design: Frers Design
Build: Vitters Shipyard 2023

The aptly named Maximus makes quite the sight. She carries more in her tanks alone than the Y8 Calabash displaces, and nearly twice that weight in her keel. Described as a performance ketch, she has a keel that drops to 8m, Southern Spars masts and ECSix rigging – with main, square top mizzen, mizzen staysail and A2 flying she sets well over 3,000m2 and can do 16 knots upwind. Skippered by Lars Loftus, who many in the industry will know from his years of looking after Velsheda and Bystander, you can be sure this will be crewed by an army of highly experienced big-boat sailors.

Photo: Jesus Renedo


Stats: 39.9m/131ft Sloop
Design: Burgess/Dykstra
Build: Holland Jachtbouw 2012

The Dykstra-updated replica of the Starling Burgess JH2 is one of the newest crop of Js with a comparatively clean deck layout, but hasn’t been racing for some years now – indeed it’s been 10 years since she last raced in Palma. She surrenders nearly 4m in length to Svea. Rainbow only recently emerged from a major Dykstra refit which included an optimised deck layout, and a new Southern Spars rig. Her crew comprises a mix of veterans, ex-AC sailors and Kiwis, led by Erle Williams on the wheel, the former helm of Ranger.

Photo: Sailing Energy/The Superyacht Cup


Stats: 24m/80ft Sloop
Design: Farr Yacht Design/Luca Bassani
Build: Wally Yachts 2006

The overall SY Cup winner last year, Rose is one of the lightest and most nimble yachts of the fleet, so this pre-preg carbon Wally has some manoeuvrability advantages over the rest of the fleet. She was campaigned heavily under her former name Tango and now under her current keen owner, who recently competed here at PalmaVela. The mix of experienced British and German crew will go all out to defend the trophy.

Photo: Sailing Energy/The Superyacht Cup


Stats: 43.6m/143ft Sloop
Design: Tore Holm/Hoek Design
Build: Bloemsma/Vitters Shipyard 2017

While under the new custodianship of a Swedish syndicate ownership Svea has built up and maintained a consistent crew of top-level pros, a race crew directed by the masterful Bouwe Bekking. Paul Kelly remains the long-term skipper and YW readers will be familiar with the many sailing successes of co-owner driver Niklas Zennstrom and his Ran racing yachts. Svea recently did PalmaVela and is competing at the Maxis and AC regattas this autumn. This, the fastest, youngest J is in hot form and always tough for the other Js to match on the water.

Photo: Sailing Energy/The Superyacht Cup


Stats: 24.4m 80ft Sloop
Design: German Frers
Build: Nautor’s Swan 2000

Previously called Maligaya, this classic example of a Swan 80 has competed here twice since her 2017 refit, which included a new North Sails wardrobe. Another of the smaller and more nimble yachts and well sailed, she will be looking to improve on her mid-fleet results last year.

Photo: Sailing Energy/The Superyacht Cup


Stats: 39.2m 129ft Sloop
Design: CE Nicholson/Dykstra
Build: Camper & Nicholsons 1933

This is the third successive SY Cup for the timeless, tireless Velsheda, a past winner here and the only J to do the Atlantic circuit this year. Will Gibbon, the former long-term mate, is now skipper, while Barney Henshaw-Depledge remains aboard as race coordinator, managing a diehard crew of vets including the wiley Tom Dodson and Don Cowey and many others who have been with this Dutch owner for over two decades. This skilled owner-driver and drilled crew rarely put a foot wrong, getting the most out of this original, stunning J. Always a good bet for a podium finish.

Photo: Michael Kurtz


Stats: 39.4m/128ft Sloop
Design: Hoek Design
Build: Pendennis Shipyard 2018

This cutter-rigged sloop, fitted out in Pendennis’ Falmouth yard, was the second model of Andre Hoek’s successful TC128 series. Back on the regatta scene again after a few years of cruising, she performed well in St Barth with a second in class. A couple of differences over her sistership Atalante should help during competition: a bowsprit for setting Code sails and having the wheel forward of the aft deckhouse for clearer visibility. Will they get the upper hand? Either way, these Truly Classics will be a favourite with the photographers.

Superyacht Cup Programme

Wednesday 19 June
1000-1200: registration
1300: race start J Class
1800: captains’ briefing

Thursday 20 June
1300: race start/Pantaenius Day
1800: daily prizegiving

Friday 21 June
1300: race start/Jaquet Droz Day
1800: daily prizegiving

Saturday 22 June
1300: race start/St Regis Day
1830: Overall SY Cup prizegiving

Full details:

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