A dramatic day on Palma Bay saw the final outcome of the 22nd Superyacht Cup hanging in the balance until the final moments of competition.
Once the spray had settled at the end of the deciding race the overall trophy went narrowly – but deservedly – to the J Class yacht stalwart Velsheda after an inspiring performance over the three days of Europe's largest and longest-running superyacht regatta.
The venerable Velsheda, built in 1933 and since lovingly restored and regularly optimised, took two wins from three races in Class B to finish level on overall points with the superketch Mari-Cha III, taking the class and the overall Superyacht Cup title on countback.
Her J Class compatriot Svea, who shared a startline and match raced Velsheda around the course over four days of competition, finished fourth overall in the seven-strong class.
"To be in the mix with all the guys in Class B and to able to hold our own was delightful, then to come out top overall is completely amazing really," said Lars Loftus, Velsheda owner's representative. "It should be close racing and it was a tie with Mari-Cha III before we got them on countback, but we will take it."
"To be able to come here and race against such a diverse fleet is really a hats' off to the ORCsy rating, the way that they take the information that we give them and how they rate us shows that they are paying attention."
"This is a brilliant regatta and the social is a great complement to what we do out on the water. A lot of the guys have been sailing on Velsheda for many years, so to come here and take the old girl out on the water and get a win is simply fantastic."
"You can't take these boats for granted, we are involved in a very special thing and over the years we have seen a resurgence of interest in the J Class, it is an absolutely special thing – it was special in the 1930s and it is special again now."
Loftus added: "We do quite a lot of J Class events but it is great to be at one like this with the bigger boats as we are all part of the same fraternity and it is great to get together with these guys – it doesn't really matter what boat you are sailing on, we are all doing something we love and having a great time."
Another dazzling day out on the water in the spectacular conditions so often delivered on Palma Bay saw other class results and individual rivalries settled in the friendly competition that is such a hallmark of The Superyacht Cup.
Win Win repeated her Class A winning performance of last year – which itself followed an overall Superyacht Cup win in 2016 – after holding off strong challenges from both Saudade and Highland Fling 15.
Going into the finale with all three boats tied on points, the closest Class A race of the regatta saw Win Win eke out a narrow advantage to take the victory, immaculate boat handling and crisp manoeuvres perhaps the deciding factor. Saudade finished second overall with Highland Fling third.
Bolero won the final race in Class C, but Silencio's second place to add to her earlier first and second saw her take the overall class win ahead of Bolero and Athos.
While the Corinthian Class D – making its first appearance at the regatta – were not in contention for the overall Superyacht Cup trophy, the two yachts involved raced hard, with Q taking the win ahead of Scorpione of London.
Event director Kate Branagh summed up the 2018 Superyacht Cup, saying: "Palma Bay delivered again as always, with some fantastic close racing across a range of classes, followed by relaxed and friendly times ashore.
"The owners and crews have had a memorable time and we look forward to welcoming many of them back again next year to the 23rd Superyacht Cup."
Photos ©J Class/Claire Matches