Fernando Leon’s 51ft Cam has taken an early lead in the Rolex IMS Offshore Worlds off Valencia, Spain

Fernando Leon won yesterday’s opening race onboard the Farr 51 Cam at the Rolex IMS Offshore Worlds off Valencia in Spain. The Spanish 1996 Olympic Tornado gold medallist finished 32 seconds ahead of Pasquale Landolfi’s three year-old Farr 49 Brava Q8 on corrected time.

Leon had hoped to race onboard a new 50ft boat of his own design but pressure of time forced him to abandon that idea and buy Esmeralda, top boat at last year’s Kenwood Cup with Kenny Read at the helm. The boat, renamed Cam, won the Trofeo de S.M. la Reina a week ago in these waters, so Leon, his distinguished professional crew and the boat are working very well together.

Landolfi and his international crew, including Australian Whitbread navigator and 6.5m sailor Andrew Cape, and former British America’s Cup helmsman Eddie Warden-Owen, will be delighted with their result. Brava Q8 prefers the lighter airs and yesterday the breeze never exceeded 8-10 knots.

Third place was taken by the IMX-40 Telefonica Movistar, with Spain’s former America’s Cup helmsman Pedro Campos at the wheel. Telefonica Movistar is the only one of the 16 IMX-40s competing to have opted to race in Class A and the move seems to have paid off as they finished just eight seconds behind Brava Q8 on corrected. “We were second in our division at our last regatta (the Trofeo de S.M. la Reina), so I think we will do well this week,” said Campos.

Vincenzo Onorato’s title defence has effectively been hobbled by the fact that his new Farr 51 Mascalzone Latino wasn’t launched until the Sunday before the event. That said, eighth place in the most competitive 50ft fleet seen for several years is hardly shoddy. They will improve as the week goes on and they get to know their boat but a successful defence is not a realistic prospect for the Italian shipping tycoon.

Another favourite, the Farr 50 Bribon, finished well down the fleet in 16th, despite the presence of Prada tactician Torben Grael and King Juan Carlos of Spain in the afterguard.

In Class B, the top three domination of the IMX-40 has been broken by Telepizza-Pepsi, the Sinergia 40. Helmed by Spanish double Olympic medallist Luis Doreste and crewed by amateurs, Telepizza-Pepsi finished second, 36 seconds behind Movistar Activa and eight seconds ahead of the Salty Dog. Telepizza-Pepsi also won her class in the Trofeo de S.M. la Reina last week and could well repeat that here at the Rolex IMS Offshore Worlds.

Today the fleet faces a long offshore race. The regatta ends on Sunday 8 July.