Chinook Reigns Supreme


Mariquita (Big Boats), Sirius (Marconi Rig Vintage), Namib (Classic) and Calima (Spirit of Tradition) complete the honour roll.


The Copa del Rey Panerai, organised by the Club Marítimo de Mahón and Real Club Náutico de Barcelona, closed its eleventh edition with  three days of brilliant competition. A fleet of 45 classic boats coming from eight different countries took part in the fourth round of the circuit Panerai Classic Yacht Challenge, which celebrates this year its 10th anniversary.

The final regatta in which the Gregale (NE wind) just kept on blowing constantly above 12 knots and the fleet’s arrival in the port of Minorca’s capital city with a backwind today, was the crowning touch for this competition in which 46 boats from eight countries took part.

After three days of excellent wind conditions and exciting sailing, Chinook (1916), owned by Graham Walker was proclaimed the winner of the Gaff Sail Vintage class and leader of the Mediterranean version of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge Trophy. 

On Saturday night, captains and crew joined in a prize-giving ceremony in the hospitality Panerai lounge located on the terrace of Club Maritimo de Mahón. The winners of each class not only received an engraved silver platter trophy but also an exclusive Panerai watch. A plethora of events had been organised for both owners and crews in this Panerai Lounge to relax and enjoy post-race discussions. 

In the Big Boats class, for boats longer than 25 metres, the Mariquita (1911) was proclaimed the champion, despite the fact that its great rival, Monegasque Moonbeam IV (1914), was decisively awarded the last regatta (a 13-minute corrected time advantage). This morning, Mikael Creach, the skipper of the boat that was owned by Prince Rainier of Monaco, warned that he would win the last race and finish the Cup ‘with his head held high’ after the jury disqualified it for an illegal manoeuvre in the pre-start on the second day. 

Creach did not accept the decision ‘because this sport’s just like that’, although he boasted about the ‘spectacular performance’ of the crew, the majority of whom are amateur sailors. 

The Mariquita, sponsored by the British George Newman, is an important yacht in the 19 Metre Class (First International Rule 19) (although its real length is 33 metres), which was designed by William Fife and launched in 1911. It won Copa del Rey Panerai in 2006 and came  second last year, beaten by the schooner Mariette (1915), which did not compete this year.

Graham Walker’s London-based Chinook (1916) was undoubtedly the best boat in Copa del Rey Panerai. It’s three top positions, both in real and corrected time, made it clear that the boat designed by N.E. Herreshoff, 18 metres long, had no rivals on the course. The Marigan (1898) holds the honour of being the oldest boat in the fleet, and was the winner of the 2013 Mare Nostrum Course. Its crew is made up of the shipowner’s family members and promising youth in the world of dinghy sailing (the average age is 17). It was constantly sailing alongside the Chinook’s stern, although it had to settle for second place. The Kelpie of Falmouth (1928), crewed by part of the team from the Big Boat Mariette, finally made it to the podium, thanks to Germán Ruiz’s Ilex (1899) withdrawing due to a problem with the boom.

In the Marconi Rig Vintage class, the Sirius won the last regatta and was awarded Copa del Rey Panerai by a broader margin than was expected after the second day, in which only one point separated Sparkman and Stephens (1937), owned by Italian Paolo Zannoni, from the Skylark (1937), which came in second, and the Enterprise (1939), which finished in fourth place. The Sonata (1937), designed by John G. Alden, which Catalan owner Jordi Cabau rescued from a garden in Palma de Majorca to restore to its original condition, closed the competition with a fourth place, which catapulted it to the podium.

The crew members’ faces in Italian Bufeo Blanco (1963) were pure poetry on the final day. Its disqualification on the first day, in which it competed with a non-updated rating, prevented it from certain victory in the 11th King’s Cup Panerai. It won Saturday’s course and was second on the final day , but finished fifth due to a DNE (14 points) that was imposed by the jury. The Namib (1967), owned by compatriot Pietro Bianchi, took great advantage of this circumstance to be proclaimed champion of its first Cup, followed by Yanira (1954), sponsored by Andres de León and competing for the Royal Nautical Club of Barcelona, and the Vittorio Cavazzana’s Emeraude (1975), designed by German Frers.  Damián Ribas’s Alba (1956), last year’s winner, only managed a fourth, although it won the third regatta in the Classic category.

The experiences these days in the Spirit of Tradition class have already entered the annals of history seven times in Copa del Rey Panerai. Javier Pujol’s Calima (1970), which sailed under the pennant of the Mahón Maritime Club, chalked up another triumph –making it eight–, confirming its status as a nearly unbeatable boat. Its feats this year include the real-time victory on day one, when almost half the fleet was unable to cross the finish line within the time limit. Francisco Baquelaine’s Lohegrin (1974), had no chance of making the champion nervous, although it also earned its place in the history of classic regattas, due to being the first Puma 34, a very popular model in Spain in the 70s and 80s, to participate in the classic boat course. 


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