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Let the fun begin - favourable winds and fair sailing

Events

The three day celebration of the finest fleet of sailing superyachts ever assembled in one location starts on Sunday 17th June with the Fortis Day at The Superyacht Cup Ulysse Nardin.

The final day of preparation saw the dockside atmosphere absolutely alive with expectation as many of the superyachts took the opportunity to go out for a final crew training session.

The pursuit style of sailing means that each yacht starts at a set time with the theoretically slowest setting off first. The aim is to get all the yachts to finish together with the first over the line the winner.

The great difference in size, rigs and style of the fleet are a race officer's nightmare. The handicaps and points weighting are adjusted each day so that on the final day for the NZ Millenium Cup it should bring all 52 boats over the finish line together - promising a truly spectacular sight.

The fleet ranges in size from the 26.5m (87ft) Anny to the towering three-masted 88.6m (288ft) schooner Maltese Falcon. Laid bow to stern the fleet would measure more than 2 kilometres.

Many friendly rivalries will no doubt develop throughout the fleet over the three days of sailing.

Look out for the competition between the two Royal Huisman schooners, the 50m (164ft) Borkumriff IV and her near sistership, the newest yacht in the fleet. the 51.6m (169ft) Meteor. Co-designer Gerry Dijkstra says that there are very few differences apart from the Rondal carbon masts on Meteor.

Then there are the two J Class yachts, Velsheda, a Charles Nicholson design of 1933 and Ranger, a 2003-built replica of the classic Olin Stephens design that successfully defended the America's Cup in 1937 against Endeavour II.

The two J Class owners are providing their guests and extra crew with the luxury of 'mother ships'. Velsheda has the new classic styled 43m (141ft) motor yacht Bystander whilst Ranger has the 45m (147ft) Vita as well as chartering the 99m (325ft) classic 1943 motor yacht Christina 'O' with cabins for 36 guests served by 36 crew.

No doubt the antipodean rivalry will continue between the two potentially fastest boats in the fleet, the ultra light Reichel Pugh designed 30m (98ft) near-sisterships Alfa Romeo, sailed by Neville Crichton, and Bob Oatley's Wild Oats. Wild Oats displaces 28.6 tonnes compared with the 1,200 tonnes of Maltese Falcon.

Alfa Romeo was the final yacht to arrive in Palma after a line honours win in the 234 mile Giraglia race from St Tropez to Genoa on Thursday when she missed her own race record by just 32 minutes and 10 seconds.

Over 1600 owners, guests and crew will be participating on the yachts in this year's event.

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