Find out more about the 2012 Superyacht Cup Cowes

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The Superyacht Cup Cowes was born out of the Superyacht Cup Palma, an established Mediterranean superyacht regatta which organisers Informa Yacht Group wanted to bring to the UK for the London Olympic year. As it happens there was enough support for both events and 15 of the world’s finest large sailing yachts will be seen racing from the Royal Yacht Squadron line.

Adela, one of the Superyacht Cup Cowes fleet

By chance, the final day of the regatta coincides with a visit by HM The Queen and Prince Philip as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. We understand they will travel to Cowes aboard the superyacht Leander and be present for a parade of sail at around 0930.

The three-day Superyacht Cup Cowes race programme could include a round the Isle of Wight course on Tuesday, although as navigator Hugh Agnew points out in the programme published in this month’s issue of Supersail World (free with the July issue) this would mean a long race for yachts normally used to courses of around 25 to 30nm.

The other big issue with yachts of this size, some of them drawing more than 10m with their keels down and some with fixed keels needing at least 6m of water, are the relatively shallow waters of the Solent.

Getting all the yachts together in Cowes is another challenge, but harbour master Stuart MacIntosh has managed to find room for Hetairos on the north wall of the Yacht Haven, Athos, which will lie on Trinity Landing, and others at Venture Quays. Some of the smaller yachts will be able to access the Haven Marina itself.

Course setters will need to have in mind the draught of the fleet, which will be tested as it short-tacks through the relatively narrow waters of the Solent avoiding well known dangers such as Lepe Middle, the Brambles Bank, Gurnard Ledge, Lymington Banks and, to the east, Ryde Middle and Mother Bank. Short tacking and short legs for yachts this size mean very hard work for crews
and there is no doubt the Solent will pose as much a test of boat and sail handling as it will navigational skill.

But the spectacle will be on the RYS line when yachts such as Athos (203ft), Adela (180ft) and the extraordinary Hetairos (220ft) will start at intervals in pursuit-style racing designed to see the fleet finish, also on the Squadron line, in fairly close company. Among others on the start line will be the brand new Wally Cento Hamilton, owned by Charles Dunstone, who will have taken delivery of his new yacht from the Vitters/Green Marine yard at Hythe. For a full list and details of the yachts entered, see our full guide in Supersail World.

The fleet will race using what is known as the Bucket Rule, which not only starts yachts at safe intervals, but through increasing familiarity with performance in varying conditions, handicaps them accurately enough to create remarkably close finishes. So for spectators, while starts will allow plenty of time to see each of the yachts, it will be the finishes that have the potential to produce the real excitement.