The Copa del Rey de Vela, competition and high society
Between July and August, the Copa del Rey Mapfre de Vela puts Majorca on the front page of the country’s news for an entire week. Much of the impact of this race in the media is due to the fact that it usually involves several members of the Spanish Royal Family. Especially, and for decades, the now emeritus king, Juan Carlos I. This has attracted a significant part of the so-called international jet setters to the waters of the bay of Palma de Mallorca.
But it would be very unfair to ignore the quality of the competition, with racing skippers and boats belonging to some of the world’s most successful clubs and shipowners. In fact, it is one of the most prestigious races of those held in the Mediterranean and also one of the races with the highest participation. To give an idea of participation, as many as 150 national and international teams registered for the 2018 edition.
Whether you are an expert in the world of sailing, an amateur or just curious, it is quite a sight to see the bay of Palma full of racing boats with their sails in the wind. A sight that later makes its way to many bars, terraces and clubs in the city, in a relaxed and colourful atmosphere.
Copa del Rey Mapfre de Vela
The first edition of the Copa del Rey de Vela took place in the summer of 1982. That year the Asociación Nacional de Cruceros together with the Real Club Náutico de Palma decided to organise a race open to all boats where the finish times would be calculated taking into account the size and shape of each boat’s sail.
Just over 50 boats, mostly national ones, participated in that first competition of the Copa del Rey de Vela. The winner was the Italian boat ‘Nat’.
Soon the race began to acquire global reach. But over time, the number of Spanish shipowners interested in participating in the competition increased. One of the most renowned was José Cusí from Barcelona, who every year invited King Juan Carlos to join the crew. His team won the competition six times.
In the 90s, the Copa del Rey de Vela gained more prestige, especially when it was included in international circuits, such as in the European Two Tonners in 1990.
But it was in the 21st century when this international fame was fully consolidated; thanks, above all, to the commitment of its organisers by improving the IMS system, which gave rise to the ILC class boats, precursors of the current Monotype or Box-Rule classes.
When the famous shipowner José Cusí bid farewell to the competition in 2011, the competition already had the prestige that it has today and that is one of its greatest sources of pride for Palma and for the island of Majorca.
Real Club Náutico de Palma
As we have already mentioned, the Copa del Rey Mapfre de Vela takes place around the Real Club Náutico de Palma. This is located next to the maritime promenade (vincular a URL interna) of the capital of the Balearic Islands, very close to its historic centre and the cathedral (vincular a URL interna).
Founded in 1948, it is the oldest yacht club in the Balearic Islands, although its facilities were completely refurbished between 1999 and 2004. This refurbishment provided the complex with new pontoons and dry dock, a library, social lounges, several restaurants, bars and a terrace, swimming pool, gym and a new sailing school.
The importance of this organisation is evident with the fact that in 1998 it won the award for the Best Yacht Club in Spain. But, above all, its inclusion in the exclusive International Council of Yacht Clubs (ICOYC), which includes the most exclusive nautical organisations in the world.
Events surrounding the competition
Like any sporting event, the Copa del Rey Mapfre de Vela is more than just a competition. In fact, the agenda surrounding the race is, in itself, a celebration.
The epicentre of these celebrations is the Real Club Náutico de Palma courtyard, which has been set up in recent years by the brand Purobeach, owner of several beach clubs around the world. This brand manages to transform the venue into a relaxed space where you can have a drink or a snack and where you can also enjoy a spa area and massages. All of this is enlivened by music from the group’s record label: Puro Music.
Also, spurred on by the high-level public, numerous restaurants and pubs around the Real Club Náutico have prospered. Some of the most interesting and lively ones being:
- Varadero Palma (Camí de l’Escullera, s/n): restaurant, bar and terrace facing the sea, well-known for its outdoor concerts. Its menu ranges from quick snacks and popular international nibbles (such as pizzas, pasta and hamburgers) to elaborate seafood rice dishes and Majorcan gastronomy dishes (vincular a URL sobre comida típica mallorquina).
- Café Pesquero (Moll de la Llonja, s/n): this is a multispace restaurant (bar, terrace, jazz concert hall, etc.) which, as well as the menu delicacies, offers the most impressive views of the city, both of the town centre and the sea.
- Ca n’Eduardo (Contramuelle Mollet, 3): it is one of the most frequented restaurants in the centre of Palma by anyone looking for the freshest local fish and seafood. It has been open for 75 years, and also specialises in paellas.
Information of interest
When it takes place
- The Copa del Rey Mapfre de Vela is held annually during eight consecutive days between July and August.
How to get to the Real Club Náutico de Palma:
- By foot: the Real Club Náutico de Palma is just over a kilometre from the cathedral (about 15 minutes’ walk), via the maritime promenade.
- By bus: lines 103, 14, 106 and 107 that go from Palma to Magaluf / Palma Nova / Peguera.
- By car: the Real Club Náutico is located in the heart of Port Vell, Palma’s historic port, and can be reached from Avenida de Gabriel Roca and Paseo de Sagrera, opposite Plaza de la Drassana.