Mariska and Comet set course for victory in the XIX Copa del Rey Repsol

  • 31 August, 2023

The 1908 William Fife and the 1946 Olin Stephens won both races in the Big Boats and Bermudian Vintage classes

The wind from the southeast (Xaloc) blew with more intensity than initially expected at the start of the second day of the XIX Copa del Rey Repsol de Barcos de Época organised by the Club Marítimo de Mahón with the collaboration of the Consell Insular de Menorca and the Mahón Town Hall. The anemometer oscillated between 8 and 14 knots over the two courses set by the race committee. The Vintage boats (pre-1950) made a crossing of 18.6 nautical miles, starting at the mouth of the natural harbour of Mahón, with the halfway point in the town of Binibequer and the finish inside the harbour. The rest of the classes (Big Boats, Classics and Spirit of Tradition) followed the same route to Cala En Porter, which lengthened their circuit by just under nine miles.


The American Spartan (1913), designed by Natahel Herreshoff and skippered by Aladin Montel, remains at the top of the general classification in the Gaff Vintage category (trapezoidal rig) despite being beaten by seven seconds on corrected time today by the French Viola (1908), the William Fife of owner Kostia Belkin, which is one point behind the leader. Spartan always sails with free wind thanks to its greater length and sail plan, without any references from its rivals. In fact, the much smaller Viola crossed the finish line with a 47-minute deficit, but the correction formula provisionally put it in first place in the race. The Spartan filed a protest regarding the exact distance of the course, which was still pending at the time of writing. Chinook, another Herreshoff design launched in 1916, retained third place with five points.


There was no change of names on the podium in the Bermudian Vintage class (triangular sailing), where the British Comet (1946), owned by William Woodward-Fisher, won by a comfortable one minute and fifteen seconds over the Spanish Sonata (John Alden, 1937). Jordi Cabau's boat moved up to second overall, ahead of FJord III (German Frers, 1947). Both are tied on five points. Woodward's Oli Stephens, with two partial victories, is the great favourite to win the Copa del Rey Repsol in this class, where the greatest excitement, with two rounds to go, seems to be centred on the fight for silver. Varuna (1939), last year's winner, has lost his chances of retaining the title after having scored two fourths.

"Today was a great race. We had a very good start. The key for us was the first leg to the mark, where we decided to sail right on the layline and we gained a lot of distance on the other boats. From then on we just had to keep the boat at the optimum speed. On the way back we had to do a lot of complicated manoeuvres, but the crew is very well trained and coordinated," explained Tom Pelsmaekers, crew member on Comet, who added: "Mahón is one of the most beautiful places I've ever sailed in because of its very long harbour, where you have to make a lot of quick decisions in competition. It's wonderful".


FI15m Mariska (William Fife III, 1908) made the most of its thoroughbred status to score another victory and become the virtual winner of the Copa del Rey Repsol with two days to go. The boat skippered by Dan Pojsak completed the 27-mile course in 3:45 hours, won in real time and took two and a half minutes off Viveka (Frank Paine, 1929), skippered by Sir Keith Mills. It so happens that Mariska, designed for the top level regattas of the early 20th century, is the only one of the large yachts in the Menorcan regatta to be rigged with a crab rig. This, in theory, should be to its disadvantage compared to its two rivals, both of which are more modern. But the reality is that he sails better and can afford the luxury (as was seen today) of starting in third position, without taking risks, and trusting in his greater speed to reach the finish line with plenty to spare.


In the second race of the Classics group, the fastest was Lionel Pean's American Hermitage (1965), which stopped the clock at four hours and five minutes. However, the formula gave him fourth place at the end of today's race. US owner Barbara Trilling's Argos (1964) stormed into the lead by taking the win in the corrected race. She added a partial victory to yesterday's second place and now leads the overall group standings on her way to retaining the title. He is closely followed by Saint Christopher (1966), skippered by Valentin Martin, who won the first race and today took third place. The Italian Don Quixote (1953), second today, closes the Classics podium and remains close to the two best boats in the group.


Francis Bacquelaine and Sergio Garcia's Lohengrin (1974) took the lead in the Spirit of Tradition class. Puma 34, a Holman & Pie design, took almost five hours to complete the long course, and gained just under four minutes on Happy Forever, which now occupies second place overall. Celeste di Mare (1971), skippered by Joan Pizà, remains in third place. This is its first participation in the Copa del Rey Repsol after its recent restoration, and it is sailing at a level that few expected, ahead of such competitive units as Calima (1970), the boat that has won the Mahón regatta the most times.

The competition will resume tomorrow, at 12.30 p.m., and will conclude next Saturday after four days have been completed.

Club Marítimo de Mahón
Consell Insular Menorca
Ajuntament de Mahón
APB Mahón
Real Federación Española de Vela
Federación Balear de Vela
Asociación Española de Barcos de Época y Clásicos (AEBEC)
Trofeo Mare Nostrum
The Mediterranean Champions Cup
Collaborating companies
La Menorquina
Aqua Group
Coca Cola
Gipsy Gin
Barba Rossa
Gin Xoriguer
Queso Mahón
Menorca on Wheels
Menorca Mar & Charter