- Next week the IX Regatta Puig Vela Clàssica Barcelona will be held in the city, and it is a unique opportunity in Spain to admire the sailboats with more history and glamour of the world
- Alba and Moonbeam III skippers reveal the keys to winning four times this peculiar and traditional competition held in Barcelona
- Erwan Noblet: “Classic boats not only sail to win the race, but also to offer a great sailing show”
- Damian Ribas: “Every year we have boats that have not participated before and which are authentic references in this world”
The Real Club Náutico de Barcelona (RCNB) hosts from next July 13th the only competition of classic boats that can be enjoyed in Spain with the top contenders in the world in this category. The Regatta Puig Vela Clàssica Barcelona meets for the ninth consecutive time the sailboats with more history and glamour of the world, in a unique competition that can only be seen in other cities on the planet, such as Antigua, Antibes, Isle of Wight, Newport and Cannes.
This particular show, in which mythical sailboats from different countries of the world participate, presents unique conditions, reflecting the special characteristics of these boats, some of them built over a hundred years ago, but which maintain the aromas of the sailing competition origins. This uniqueness makes them difficult to sail and handle boats that require special skills to get their maximum performance.
And no one better than two tetra champions of the Regatta Puig Vela Clàssica Barcelona to reveal the secrets that have been used by Erwan Noblet, skipper of the legendary Moonbeam III; and Damian Ribas, of the Spanish Alba, “Since historical boats are very different between them and combine very different rigs, as ketch, yawi, schooner or sloops, make the most performance requires acknowledging their optimization for each type of wind, direction and wave. Deeply acknowledging the boat is essential to get good results. Another key point is adding a good crew constant and always composed by the same crewmen. The maintenance of the boat and sails in good conditions are also essential”. These words by Damian Ribas reveal the keys to success in this competition.
And his opinion largely coincides with what said by the French skipper: “Moonbeam III has won the Regatta Puig four times has been possible due to a confluence of circumstances: finishing all races without breaking anything, enjoying good sea and wind conditions, that for my boat correspond to a flat sea and a wind speed of 15 to 20 knots, and having a good crew able to enjoy this wonderful sailboat sailing”.
The fact that both sailboats are the current champions in their respective categories is given. And while the Spanish boat, built in 1955 and belonging today to RCNB, began its successful career in 2008, and repeated in 2011, 2012 and 2015, the ship belonging to YC Saint Tropez, built in 1903, has shown its strength more recently: in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015.
Traditionally, Classic Boats category encompasses almost half of the participants. And nevertheless, Ribas is always among the favourites. “Each design has optimum conditions to sail and others in which it is harder to defend itself. In the case of Alba, open courses are its best stretch whereas it is greatly penalized when there is very little wind” says the Catalan skipper. Concerning to the French skipper, he exposes its ideal conditions: “In the time of year that this regatta is held, we can expect a good sea breeze with flat water, perfect conditions for Moonbeam III”.
The contribution of crews is essential
However, both skippers acknowledge that without the fundamental contribution of their respective crews, winning would be a chimera. Damián Ribas is clear: “I count on excellent yachtsmen who every year come really excited to this event. Someone is not aware of the importance of the crew until he does not have it. In Alba, we have almost never had problems in a manoeuvre and it is a luxury to have them”.
Erwan Noblet reinforces this view: “Our success rate is due, almost one hundred percent, to my crew. We cannot compete in coastal races with less than 16 crewmen on board, which are necessary to carry out all the manoeuvres and actions necessary for a proper operation. It is often what makes the difference”.
Besides the human factor, another key to meet the expectations of success in this traditional competition are the field conditions of Barcelona regattas. And as stated by both contestants, they are usually quite regular. “Under normal conditions, we can expect almost the same sea breeze every day. Sea features depend on the past and the remote weather conditions. Every year we learn from these conditions and besides, some editions ago we were fortunate to have on board a good sailor in the area, such as Guillermo Altadill” says Erwan Noblet.
In this technical aspect, Damián Ribas explains more scientifically the characteristics of the course in which this test is developed: “The Barcelona race course usually has thermal winds. These follow a stable moment of apparition during the day, as they are produced by the heating of the ground near the coast. Its evolution is usually increased in intensity at noon and its direction keeps veering to the right, like the sun”.
Spectacular images off the coast of Barcelona
Besides, both stars agree to highlight the peculiarity that distinguishes and makes the Regatta Puig Vela Clàssica Barcelona, played by the Barcelona coast for the enjoyment of citizens, more attractive. The head of Moonbeam III emphasizes that this circumstance “enables thousands of people to enjoy the tactics and strategy” of these iconic vessels. He adds: “Classic boats not only sail to win the race, but also, first and foremost, to offer a great sailing show”.
In the same line, Alba’s captain states: “The rounds designed by the organisation provide sections that get closer to the coast so that the city can enjoy these beauties of sea with all sails unfurled. The results are pictures of the spectacular Barcelona seafront”. He concludes: “All this has made the Puig regatta quickly become a fixed event in the calendar of the Classics circuit. Every year we have boats that have not participate before and which are authentic references in this world. And the increasing involvement of Puig has greatly helped this success”.