The Puig Vela Clàssica Barcelona regatta was once again one of the main Mediterranean events in the international sailing calendar. Among the forty vessels registered in the historic categories –Vintage, Classic and Big Boats— were included seven sailboats making their début in Barcelona. Among them were two mythical jewels of the sea, the Emilia Prima and La Spina, the two first 12-meter built in Italy back in the 1930s which, as fate would have it, so far had never raced one another.
On keeping with its usual DNA, the 12th edition, according to most yachtsmen, took advantage of the excellent winds, the best in many years, to complete the three programed races in the different courses, adapted to the different fleets. The first race won’t be easily forgotten by either the participants nor the followers, thanks to the generous wind of up to 22 knots, a calm sea and an 18-mile coastal race course, that this time was identical for all categories. But the second race was no less exciting, with medium wind, and we could say the same of the crucial race, on the closing day, which developed with a smooth wind in a technical course between buoys, after a patient and well-programed delay that allowed to finish the race with a suitable thermal wind.
Guia and Argos defend their title in the thrilling duels of Classic 1 and 2
As usual in this event organized by the Real Club Náutico de Barcelona (RCNB), the Classic fleet sailed in two different categories, according to their length and features. In both classes, Argos and Guia, the winners of the previous edition, repeated their feat.
In Classic 1, the Guia, commanded by Jordi Costa, lead the partials (1-1-2), even though her results were tight and severely disputed, having to overcome the technical attack by Jean-Claude Vau’s Outlaw in the last race, which tried to penalize her at the start to overthrow her from the ranking. This specific duel allowed Andrés de León’s Yanira to win the last race, to tie the score with the Outlaw on the final classification, and to break the ties thanks to her better partial results. Emeraude and Disparate followed on the classification, also tied on points.
In Classic 2, the Argos, with Eduardo Mendez as her skipper, was leading the way, scoring the three partials. However, on her wake the duel was served. Suspense went on until the very last meters of the third race, with Michele Frova’s Ojalá II keeping the second position against the pressure of Emiliano Parenti’s Madrifa 2 and Ignacio Llano’s Margarita, which were finally classified in this order.
The Moonbeam of Fife obtains her eigth victory at the Puig Vela Clàssica
The Moonbeam of Fife, commanded by Erwan Noblet, obtained a triple victory in this edition’s partials. She had an absolute control of the charts, although that was not an easy achievement because the Halloween, commanded by Íñigo Sterz, made her strain for the victory, especially in the second and third races, with very small time-differences after time compensation. The podium was completed by Frederic Haonisel’s Black Swan, with a crew that displayed great sportsmanship despite their powerlessness: despite having a less performing sailboat, they were happy to take part in their first regatta after their restoration, in which their hull is now painted in white.
Alex Veccia’s Veronique, Jason Gouldstone’s Marigold and Tim Liesenhoff’s Marigan were the Three Musketeers of the Vintage Graff-rigged class, as they competed with unusual quality and intensity, considering the high complexity of their rigging. After the two first days, they had equal points, with their stakes still high for the last duel. On the third race, the order in the ranking was going to be the same as in the general classification. The tactical dispute started right from the decisive start, with a highly inspired Marigan. After taking the Veronique offline, when she tried to attack her, she knew how to keep the time difference favorable to her rating until the finish line. The Marigold, who avoided the fight at the start, ended up second and left the Veronique the third place on the podium. Uncertainty, fair play and a high level of competitivity were among the best features of this year’s edition.
Everything suggested that Scott Perry’s Fjord III and Martin Belloch’s Cippino would not give the others any chance in the Vintage Bermudian class, considering their superiority in the provisional score after the two first races. But, by engaging match-race style in the third race, they controlled and checked one another, and they escaped from the rest of the fleet after the first closed-haul. Delayed in the fleet, the Fjord III lead the duel by adding a third position in her partial score, while the Cippino added a fifth. Jordi Cabau took advantage of the open door and imposed his Mercury on the decisive race, thus completing the final podium, after passing the Argyll and the Emilia Prima.
The Puig Vela Clàssica regatta celebrates the 5th Centenary of the first round-the-world expedition in the naval history
In this 12th edition, the Juan Sebastián Elcano trophy was awarded to the Marigold (1892), being the oldest boat in the competition. The trophy is part of the commemorative acts of the Spanish Army to pay tribute to the 5th Centenary of the first round-the-world expedition in the history of navigation, completed by the Magellan-Elcano expedition. With this award, the Puig Vela Clássica regatta remembered this great feat and celebrated its anniversary.
Moreover, the Enric Puig trophy to the best dupla from each country, was awarded to the Spanish team composed by the Guia and the Marigan.
Emilia and La Spina, the duel that was fought in Barcelona almost one century later
The 12th edition of the Puig Vela Clàssica regatta was the scene of the battle between La Spina (1929) and the Emilia (1930), two rival sailboats belonging to the same category —12-meters—, origin –Italy—, and age —90. The challenge was expected ever since and, due to mysteries of fate, up until now they had never had the chance to fight this duel.
The two spectacular vessels were the first two 12-meter class ever registered in Italy. La Spina overtook the Emilia, thus getting the I-1 sail, the first Italian register, and leaving the I-2 sail to the Emilia. That’s the reason for their historical rivalry.
La Spina was commissioned by the Marquis of Spinola, a wealthy Genovese aristocrat, and was designed by Vincenzo Vittorio Baglietto. In 2005 she was completely rebuilt, getting a competition-sailboat exterior, but keeping the glamorous interior design, which is a replica of the mansions of her period.
On the other hand, the Emilia was commissioned by the Italian senator Giovanni Agnelli, founder of Fiat, to give to his son-in-law as a wedding present. However, due to his unexpected departure to South America, the splendid vessel was kept out of the sailing race circuit until her last owners made the decision to recover her competitive spirit.
The Arosa débuts in the Puig Vela Clàssica regatta
For the first time in its history, the Spanish Army took part in the Puig Vela Clàssica Barcelona, represented by the Arosa. Built in 1931, her participation coincides with the celebration of the 5th centenary of the first circumnavigation by the Magellan-Elcano expedition.
Based in Marín (Pontevedra), this schooner, designed by Alfred Mylne —famous for his sailboats since 1914—, was built in Scotland between 1930 and 1931 with the name “Algoma”. With this name, she was confiscated in April, 1981 with a drug shipment onboard and later assigned to the Spanish Army. Ever since, the oldest active Navy force in the world uses her to take part in regattas and thus make their work visible within the naval branch of the Spanish Army.
Mateu Grimalt, the nautical jewels restorer
Born and bred in Mallorca, Mateu Grimalt is a veteran yachtsman who has taken part in many editions of the Puig Vela Clássica regatta, with both the Mercury and the Sonata, two beautiful vessels belonging to Jordi Cabau, which he recovered and rebuilt for this enthusiastic shipowner from the Balearic Islands.
A passionate naval carpenter by calling, he took his first steps in his family’s workshop, where they got commissions to rebuild and renovate some foreign vessels. Through a common acquaintance, Cabau suggested them to rebuild the Mercury, a work they undertook in 2000. All the upper work was remade, from the ribs to the linings and the deck. Afterwards they restored the inside and, finally, the mast, to recover the two meters that her previous owner had cut. Eight years later, Cabau asked him to rebuild the Sonata, which was laying half abandoned in a shipyard. After taking up the challenge, Grimalt invested a year and a half in rebuilding her completely, by using the same noble woods that he had employed to rejuvenate the Mercury: Oak for the “ribs”, cedar for the interior lining, mahogany for the external lining, and cherry-wood to line the frames and floor timber.
A regular in this regatta, Grimalt admits having sweet-and-sour feelings when he finds himself surrounded by so many important vessels. “I fear there are fewer and fewer professionals in my trade”, he says, with a hint of regret. He thinks naval carpentry is an endangered profession, something he suffers directly at home because there won’t be any heirs taking up his workshop.