The regatta is growing every year and among the Grand Prix racing fraternity it will be the inaugural dust up between several of the new generation TP52 that will provide most interest, the regatta acting as the warm-up for the Audi MedCup which starts in a month's time in Cascais, Portugal. The line-up will see Niklas Zennstrom's new Ràn 4, a Judel-Vrolijk design up against Audi Azzurra, (a merger of the Azzurra and Matador teams) with a boat from the same German design house but with a more powerful hull shape; and the new Botin & Carkeek design for Quantum Racing. In terms of helmsmen - Niklas Zennstrom will steer Ràn 4 with Gavin Brady calling tactics, while Audi Azzurra will have Matador's Guillermo Parada driving, backed up by Italy's finest Francesco Bruni and Vasco Vascotto on tactics and strategy respectively and Quantum now as Ed Baird behind the wheel with Adrian Stead and Kevin Hall pointing the way.
The new generation TP52s will be joined by Jose Cusi's new Bribon (last year's Matador) and the British entry Gladiator (last year's Artemis) being campaigned by Tony Langley.
The Maxi class will feature six boats, the Mini-Maxis Andres Sorriano's Alegre and Sir Peter Ogden's all-black Jethou and the Wally race boat Irvine Laidlaw's Highland Fling XI. The Wallys number eight ranging from the Wally 80 Inti up to the mighty 143 footer Esense via the perennial Wally racers Jean Charles Decaux's J-One and Sir Lindsay Owen Jones' Magic Carpet (as he awaits the launch next year of his new Wallycento 100 footer, of which he is having the first along with Charles Dunstone).
On Friday the big boats are joined by the rest of the ORC, IRC, RI, One Design and Vintage and Classic fleets. In the IRC fleet, the early generation TP52 Aifos sailed as always by the Spanish Army and Fernando León and Kiko Sánchez Luna's Cam stand out as clear favorites together with the all-star cast on Johnny Vincent's TP52, Pace.
More photos from Jesus Renedo/www.sailingstock.com