Jesus Renedo / www.jesusrenedo.com

Lionheart the clear winner

Windward-leewards for the Js at the Superyacht Cup

Thursday June 19th 2014, Author: James Boyd, Location: Spain

If Wednesday’s J Class race for the King’s Hundred Guinea Cup at Palma’s Superyacht Cup proved inconclusive, Hanuman and Lionheart finally being required to share the top trophy, there were no such doubts cast about the winners of the second windward-leeward race of the series.

Lionheart took the lead on the second beat and extended progressively to win by one minute and five seconds ahead of Rainbow across the finish line after three laps of racing.

Racing conditions were something close to Palma’s sea breeze best. The wind built from a relatively gentle 7-9 knots at the start to 16 knots on the third round to provide some sparkling downwind sailing with the five J Class yachts pushing their crews increasingly hard.

Ranger won the pin end of the start and were able to quickly gain the left side of the course which, as is often the case, proved the passport to a good lead at the first windward mark. But at the leeward gate they let the prowling Lionheart separate to the left hand gate mark, work back to the left again – toward the bluff, cliff lined Cabo Blanco shore – and the Lionheart crew which has Bouwe Bekking as tactician converted a 15 seconds deficit to a lead of more than one minute at the second windward turn. Rainbow’s profit was not as valuable but they rose to earn a well deserved second place.

After a modest start Hanuman pulled through to cross the finish line third, but dropped behind Ranger on corrected time.

Bekking, who skippers the Team Brunel Volvo Ocean Race team, was pleased to have kept the ‘winning’ record of Lionheart intact, claiming a
share of Wednesday’s top trophy as a victory.

“We had a good start and so far our crew work has been excellent so it is good and our owner has been driving superbly. It is all
coming together nicely and so we have our seven wins in a row,” he said.

He was less enthused by the idea of a head to head match with Hanuman for the Cup: “Maybe, but I think he is quite handy at that. So maybe we should not go there.”

Bekking believes the J Class racing here keeps him and some of his core crew sharp for the upcoming Volvo Ocean Race: “I made this commitment to sail these three regattas before the Volvo came along, but I think this is really good for us who are on the Volvo as we are in a good racing environment, it is good for my communication and relationship with Andrew Cape the navigator and we have four guys from the team here. It all fits in really well and it keeps me sharp.”

Of their success to date he concludes: “We have worked hard on the boat and as a crew. We have a great group of people and a great owner-driver. There is much more pressure with a pro driver. Our owner says to just relax from start to the finish. I sometimes get a bit tense but you want it to be good for everyone on board. I made a mistake at the start yesterday and I have to put my hand up for that one.”

Rainbow’s helm, Holland’s five times Olympian Mark Neeleman, was delighted with second: “The competition is so complete here with five boats that we are very happy to get second today, the boat is going very well, nice and quick. The wind shifted 15 or 20° to the left on the second beat and we got that with Lionheart. It was a good side of the course. Our Italian team at the back Francesco (De Angelis) and Michele (Ivaldi) worked it well. We are very happy with the result. Everything went well, we are working all the time to get better. The boat is relatively new and we are changing and modifying the crew a little and getting better all the time. We have sailed the least together of all the teams I think so it is pleasing today. We have had five boats a couple of times but all the teams are getting better all the time, this is the best competition there is. The differences are minimal and so you can’t make mistakes. You have to do everything right if not you go from first to fourth.”

Photos by Jesus Renedo / www.jesusrenado.com

 

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