The opening races of the 22nd Superyacht Cup in Palma got underway on Wednesday with a J Class showdown between rivals Velsheda and Svea.
With old scores to settle and Svea fresh from her class victory over Velsheda at the St Barths Bucket earlier this year, the two yachts took to the blue waters of Palma bay to do battle.
There were originally meant to be four of the J Class fleet at the regatta however, the withdrawal of Topaz and Ranger has resulted in a straight shootout between the two competitors.
The handicapping system used by the J Class Association was implemented to ensure an even field between 1933-built Velsheda and Svea, the newest member of the J Class fleet.
The first race got underway with the two yachts dramatically splitting tacks from the start. Svea’s choice of the right side of the course paid off with a 30 second lead at the gate at the top of the course and the team were able to maintain this advantage to the finish.
But in the second contest, the tables were turned. Velsheda led the way from the start and held her advantage both upwind and down on both circuits.
"We had a good tussle with Svea in both races," said Velsheda's tactician Tom Dodson. "They showed really good speed in the first race to cross ahead on the first beat. In the second it all worked for us, we got the cross and hung on.
"Both boats are owner-driver and sailed to such a high standard – if we get everything right we can still win races against the newer boats."
Svea’s tactician Charlie Ogletree said the team “pushed it as hard as [they] could while staying safe.”
“We are new and only just starting our second year of sailing, while Velsheda is a bit of a benchmark in the class and we all aspire to compete against them. It was match racing, though we backed off a little of course, the last thing we want is a collision,” he said.
Event director Kate Branagh added: “The Superyacht Cup could hardly have got off to a better start with Palma delivering the conditions it is renowned for and both our J Class stars taking a win each to launch the regatta.”
Velsheda and Svea’s rivalry is set to continue for the remainder of the Superyacht Cup which will conclude on June 23.