Only me all at sea

With the VOR having kicked off leg one recently I’ve been thinking about the different kind of sailors I know. ..Rock star racing sailors, coastal cruisers, casual sailors, day sailors, dinghy sailors, dead serious sailors, drunken sailors, solo sailors, multihull and maverick sailors.

And then there’s me, the world’s worst sailor who for some strange reason has happened to spend many years on all sorts of sail boats. From classics to carbon fibre racing machines I’ve confounded many crew by making all kinds of boating blunder’s and sailing snafu’s. Only last week I tried to silence a B&G alarm by setting off the fire alarm, the week before I managed to get myself and a fender stuck between the spokes of the helm while trying to get the thing from starboard to port. “Fabulous fending Dani!” I’m happy enough chewing the fat on the rail, slurping gatorade and eating mini mars bars but don’t ask me to tie a bowline or fetch a boat hook from the fore peak ‘cos you’ll get both the blank look and the big eyes. (He wants what?) I don’t like hearing raised voices either. It frightens me and I think we’re about to sink.

All of you that have ever spent even one second on a yacht with me I can see you nod and I can hear you snigger. Seriously, all the way from Australia, so stop.

In any case it comes as no surprise that the world of ocean racing and solo sailors completely eludes though totally fascinates me. Like a homebody who gets Michael Palin to bring the world to their living room I regularly get 50 knot Southern Ocean swells right here on my Santa Catalina sofa by re reading Naomi James’ ‘Alone around the world’ and Moitessier’s ‘The long way’ and all while snuggled up in a thick fleece with frequent breaks not to have to adjust sails but to pad back and forth from the couch to the kettle in slippered feet.

Anyhow with this blog I’d like to give a shout out to my four favourite sailors and take my proverbial south western hat off to them by listing some of the super human and incredibly daunting things they’ve done while I was watching dvd’s and eating chocolate biscuits.

Laura Dekker

Laura Dekker

1) Let’s start with Dutch Laura Dekker who at an age where my main concerns were how to get out of P.E. and why my hair wasn’t straight started her 27,000 nautical mile voyage around the world. She was 16 when she finished her 518 day trip which made her the youngest person to have ever sailed solo around the globe. Laura Dekker was born aboard a yacht off the coast of New Zealand and first sailed solo at six years old, (six!) and at ten began dreaming about crossing the planet.. I love that during her trip she found a new hobby: playing the flute, which she said was easier to play than a guitar in bad weather!

2) Another female pioneer is seasickness suffer-ess Naomi James who was the first woman to circumnavigate the globe by herself. She completed her voyage on the 8th of June 1978 after having spent 272 days at sea. During the cruise, 16m ‘Express Crusader’, endured a few minor distresses like losing her mast, capsizing and having no radio for a couple of weeks, so small stuff really 😉 Actually Naomi James was not the sole soul aboard – she had a cat named Boris, which unfortunately fell over board off the coast of Africa.

Moitessier Voyage

Moitessier Voyage

3) One of my favourite Frenchies is long-distance sailor Bernard Moitessier who christened his 12m ketch Joshua in honour of Slocum. It was on this boat that Moitessier competed in the 1968 Sunday Times Golden Globe Race (predecessor of the Vendee Globe), making fantastic time, only to abandon the race near the end, blowing off the chance to win the first non-stop singlehanded round-the-world race. What? Yup, he kept on sailing halfway around the world again to Tahiti to “save his soul.” Without breaks and mostly in the roaring forties this voyage resulted in Moitessier setting the record for the longest nonstop passage, sailing a total of 37,455 nautical miles in 10 months.

Jean le Cam

Jean le Cam

4) Then there’s the colourful Jean Le Cam, he broke an Atlantic record in 1982, won the Transat in 1994, the 1,000 miles of Calais and is three times winner of the Figaro, so boasts a pretty serious sailing CV. He brought big smiles to everyone’s faces during the 2013 Vendee when we saw his dark curls go wilder everyday and met his set of soft animals who did the journey with him. We watched on webcam how they regularly fell over and how Le Cam would put them back in place while talking us through his days at the office. His gang of furry fluffies all made it up to the stage with him as well on arrival in Sables-d’Olonne. Gold.

Of course these amazing people and what they’ve done has helped shape what sailing and racing is today and although they couldn’t be more different to whom I am and what I can do I’d just like to finish of with mentioning that if you need someone to coil a line the wrong way around the winch, to speak on VHF without pushing the button or to repeatedly throw an increasingly heavy line not on the dock but in the water, look no further, I’m your woman. And while I tuck into a slice of hot pizza and crack open a smooth Rioja, the VOR guys and girls are gearing up for short sleeps, freeze dried food and wet and windy weather. I might take this vino out to the terrace but if it gets too nippy I’ll just slip back into my house, the one that never moves, moans, heels, slides or shudders.. Thank god.

Good luck all you VOR people, I admire you, you’re amazing!


All at sea with the Copa del Rey 2014

Simon at the helm with The Islander Flag in tow

Simon at the helm with The Islander Flag in tow

When Simon at The Islander invited me to join him on the rib to follow the Copa del Rey on its third day, I jumped at the chance. 

Copa del Rey is a big deal in Palma and this year the newly crowned HRM Felipe VI was rumoured to be skippering Aifos in the Class Gaastra IRC 1.

We met Simon at noon at Cala Nova Marina – joining us was Helen Warren and Melanie Winters from Nautical Academy and Dovaston Crew, Steve Worral from Etech and Rhys Hughes from The Alchemedia-Group.  The atmosphere was very convivial, and with the Islander Flag duly erected on the back of the Rib, we set off out across the bay to survey the yachts which were due to start racing at 1. 

With 10 – 12 knots of sea breeze expected, the conditions were perfect for the third day of the Regatta.  Three classes were racing today; a coastal race, which goes right across the bay, and five sailed two windward/leeward races.  As this was the halfway point of the event, today’s winners would receive the Enlace trophies.

Expertly Kept in the Heart of the Action

Expertly Kept in the Heart of the Action

Being a bit of a novice at this sailing malarkey, it was interesting to see how these massive sailing craft managed to get lined up between a buoy and a starting boat and appeared to be at precisely the right spot when the claxon sounded.  From that moment the excitement was terrific as they all raced across the bay within a whisker of each other.  We followed the Barclays 52 Super Series and as we were on a nippy rib, Simon expertly managed to keep us right in the middle of the action without getting in the way.  There were plenty of challenges and it was everyman for himself. 

A long hot coastal race with Phoenix leading Ran Racing on the first run, then it was Phoenix and Gladiator jostling for position in the TP52 class.  It was all very close and we were right on point as they turned sharply at one end of the course, giving us an impressive view as all the spinnakers dropped at precisely the right moment;  to this sailing newbie, this was totally exciting stuff. 

There are three courses in the Copa del Rey, 8 classes and a total of 120 boats.  Over the course of the week, each class races on each of the difference courses. 

We did spot the King’s boat Aifos, but of course, without his crown, it was impossible to distinguish him. 

Can you spot the King of Spain?

     Can you spot the King of Spain?

A hotly contested event, on day 2, the British team on Provezza encountered a problem which they solved by flying 2 of their team to Valencia in a private jet, a quick hop in a taxi to the store to pick up the kit – returning in the nick of time for dinner and then a night fixing the rigging to enable them to compete the following day. 

After a few hours of action, this motley crew headed across the bay to the Barracuda Bar for refreshments and a cool off before heading back home to Cala Nova. 

Not a bad afternoon at the Office.  A big thank you to Simon for the invitation, It was really interesting and great fun. 

The Islander Magazine …. Then .. Now and beyond….

Prior to taking the helm of The Islander Magazine in 2013, Simon Relph had spent most of his working life in the marine

The Islander Magazine

The Islander Magazine

industry. After managing a chandlery for four years, in 1982 Simon started up his own business, Mailspeed Marine.

Simon has always had a particular passion for Racing Dinghies, having participated on the racing circuit himself rather successfully. Indeed from 1985 – 1991 he held the title of World Champion in the GP 14 Class, one of the most popular and competitive fleets around the world. He also won a European title in another class and a handful of other national titles.

Initially Mailspeed Marine catered for Racing Dinghies, then with this side of the business well and truly secured, Simon then focused the emphasis towards larger boats with a view to building a mail order business; online marine retailing was something quite unique back in 1998.

The Islander Magazine

The Islander Magazine in Cala Nova

Simon and his family had a home in Mallorca and spent many a happy holiday on the island over the years. When Mailspeed Marine was sold in late 2007, it was a natural decision after working 7 days a week for many years, for Simon and his family to move out to the sunshine island for a little R/R.

One year on, and Simon’s natural entrepreneurial spirit was being tempted by the various marine business projects that were presenting themselves. When the opportunity of the Islander magazine came along to whet his appetite, Simon jumped in with both feet, despite having no previous publishing experience.

Just 15 months down the line Simon is relishing his new life challenge and is justifiably proud of the developments made

Simon Relph The Islander Magazine

Simon Relph The Islander Magazine

during his brief tenure – no resting on laurels here!

Simon is currently working to further enhance the magazine’s appeal to a broader audience, and also encompass the wider boating community in the Western Med, not just the Superyacht class – although of course, The Superyacht industry will always be the core of the business.

Particular emphasis is now being placed on The Islander’s online presence, in addition to the monthly printed magazine. Simon strongly believes that there is a very bright future for both forms of media, as boats travelling around the world can keep in touch with what is happening here in Palma via The Islander Magazine’s online presence.

The Captains Favorite Port – “We prefer Cognac to be honest”

When it comes to the Captain’s favourite Port – everyone has their own opinion and of course there are many factors to be considered; it is indeed quite a leading question.

Palma Bay

Palma Bay

Ok so let’s talk in nautical terms – immediately the general consensus is that Palma de Mallorca is King of the Ports in the Mediterranean and some would say around the world. Palma is centrally located on the map – is easy to get to from almost anywhere and with a mixture of homes, friends and time off thrown in the melee, Palma is the top spot.

Thinking about best Ports visited further afield, both Chuck and Ted quickly rattled off 4 or 5 ports that were firm favorites.

Newport Shipyard in New England was mentioned because of its vast history with the America’s Cup Races. It also happens to be a big beautiful town and has a lot to offer in the way of activities whilst there.

Auckland in New Zealand, also known as “The City of Sail” was another Port given the nod because of the Superyacht Regattas and the sheer number of amazing Superyachts created there. The Port at Auckland is literally in the heart of the city, so the moment you arrive on land you are right in the middle of the action which was also a big plus. Your favorite Bar? 3 minutes one way, Favorite Restaurant? 2 Minutes in the opposite direction! What’s not to love?

A Familiar Sight

Home away from home

Of course there are many Ports scattered all over the world and the question really is a massive one. If you’re talking in terms of beauty then no one could deny a mention of the likes of Tahiti or The Galápagos Islands, but then again you really can sail to almost anywhere in the World!

Many boats have storage containers in a few nice places dotted around the globe, and when you have got a bit free time and a little cash to burn, you can end up with some pretty radical toys! Generally these containers are full of ropes, sails and tools – but what about that crazy mountain bike you’ve got stored in Sydney and those amazing trails you found last time you were there? That has to be a great reason to go back!

Both Captains agreed that from a professional point of view, the main appeal of a good Port is the quality of the facilities on offer, as well as the geographical ease of access. The facilities are the number one priority of most Captains of todays Superyacht world; the more facilities with high quality servicing companies on location are paramount in making a smooth stay with minimal headaches – especially when there is a schedule with tight deadlines for work to be completed!

Size Issues

    Size Issues

When a Captain isn’t following the owner’s agenda for usage, depending on the size of your Yacht there are only a select number of Ports one can actually take a Superyacht to be serviced now. Fort Lauderdale in America for example is a great port, but because of the size of Florida and the USA you’re probably looking at a pretty big road trip to gather the itinerary of updates required!

Another reason why Palma de Mallorca still firmly wears the Crown as Top Port. It’s all about the facilities, family, friends and excellent connections.

The Islander Magazine was with Ted Street and Chuck Demangeat

The 2014 Palma Vela Regatta – Racing a Dragon

Perfect sailing conditions

Perfect sailing conditions Palma de Mallorca

Every year, the warm summer winds breeze into Palma, bringing with them the Yachting Regatta season. The past months of May and June have seen numerous Regattas like the Palma Vela, the Round the Island race and most recently, the Superyacht Cup.

It is a curious thing that for an island with such an enormous yachting fraternity, these summer races receive relatively meagre publicity.   Yacht racing at this level is an elite sport and ranges from fun participation, Dragon Class, right up to professionally crewed yachts like the J Class. At the high end, it is a serious game for professional sailing folk – people who know what they are doing.

Some of the best yachts around!

Some of the best yachts around!

The Dragon class specifically has an unique and interesting history. Designed by Norwegian Johan Anker in 1929, the original design had two berths and was suited for cruising in Scandinavian waters. Within a few years the popularity of the design had spread all over Europe, and for a while, it was also an Olympic event.

Today, Dragon racing is nicknamed ‘the Gentleman’s class’. These old, mostly wooden classics became even more prestigious after they lost their Olympic status. Of course, the brand new boats of today, made from lightweight fiberglass are superlight and with a price tag of €100,000 they would always win the big Regattas; however, Palma Vela has a strong reputation, as the event where the classic old beauties race.

Whilst the ancient wooden Dragons may not be as nippy as their modern counterparts, there is something nostalgic about racing a

Perfect weather conditions

Perfect weather conditions

classic and they are the absolute pride and joy of their owners. A very tactical boat to sail, there are a few ways of setting the boat up to get an advantage, as opposed to more modern craft.

Dragon Racing European Championships are held annually. A few years ago the event in St Tropez attracted the largest fleet of over 220 yachts from around the world. The Edinburgh Cup was held last week at Lymington. This Trophy stems from the Dragon Class donating a boat to the Duke of Edinburgh some years ago.

Daniel Hobbs CYS

Daniel Hobbs CYS

We caught up with Daniel Hobbs, owner of Classic Yacht Shipwrights based here in Palma who was lucky enough to have been crewing in these recent events, to get an insider track on what it’s like to be onside….

The Palma Vela is a great Regatta held in May every year. The interesting thing about Palma Vela is that it brings together many different classes of boat to participate in this prestigious event. You will see everything from 15 – 18 foot dinghies right up to the Superyacht Maxi Class. Each class races against craft of a similar size and benchmarks. The rules and regulations are very tight and clear – it is both complicated and interesting, which makes for a lot of banter and fun between the opposing crews on the start line.

This year Daniel was lucky enough to take the Helm of 1947 van der Stadt Dragon Thalatta – a real beauty.   There were a couple of

Palma Vela

Palma Vela bringing together different class of yacht

first time Dragon racers this year, all eager and ready to enjoy the event.

The pre-race atmosphere is fantastic – catching up with lots of old friends is always good; the banter is great and there is a lot of larking around. Then you get on the water, things become serious and it is everyone for themselves. If someone breaks a rule – you can be sure there will be a protest. It is full on good fun.

This year the weather for Palma Vela was perfect – Strong winds made for a great race and one particular day, 25 knots of breeze was extremely intense and tested the crew to the limits.

The regulations are stringent and boats are fully measured to ensure that everything is in accordance with the rules.

There are safety boats around and sometimes the boats do collide. Boats will be penalized for committing offences. For example, if you sail over the start line before the gun goes that is a penalty – hit buoy, another penalty. If you cause another boat to tack or take evasive action that is another penalty. You have to know what you are doing.

Palma Vela

Perfect conditions Palma de Mallorca

The course is plotted in the Bay of Palma and in one day each craft will participate in 3 or 4 races. The different classes of yacht setting off from the start line at the same time creates great excitement – First the J80s then the flying 15s then the Dragons.

The Palma Vela Regatta is a fabulous action packed event. After 5 or 6 hours racing the fun begins again in the Club house. There is a terrific feeling of camaraderie. It’s great fun with great people.

The Islander Magazine was talking to Daniel Hobbs MD of Classic Yacht Shipwrights based in Palma de Mallorca


Superyacht Cup Interview with Daniel Hobbs

Daniel Hobbs, CYS

Daniel Hobbs, CYS

So Daniel, give me a little background – how did you come to be living and racing Superyachts here in Mallorca?

I grew up on the South coast of England and started sailing with my Father at a young age. This progressed through refurbishing old wrecks and then racing them out of the local yacht club. On leaving school, I did a joinery/shipwright apprenticeship and then spent a while crewing on yachts before settling in Mallorca and starting up Classic Yacht Shipwrights back in 2003. I have been fortunate to have worked on many Cruising, Racing and J Class Yachts over the last eleven years and am regularly invited to race with them which is great fun.

What exactly is the Superyacht Cup Regatta, and what is it that makes it so special?

Superyacht Race, Mallorca 2014

Superyacht Race, Mallorca 2014

The Superyacht Cup is a worldwide Regatta. It is held in the Caribbean in the winter and in different locations around the world at different times of the year. It has been a regular fixture in Palma since 1996. The beauty of Superyacht is that all different classes of yacht can compete against each other. It’s a race for big yachts, 30 metres plus – you have Cruising yachts and J Class and the Superyachts, all in the arena together. It is quite an event on the yachting calendar; some of these yachts are real old beauties and although they may not be as fast and nimble as the new lightweight fiberglass craft – nothing can compare to these classics.

Which yacht did you crew on this year?

The Race is on!

The Race is on!

This is the 5th year running I have crewed on Maria Cattiva. We were 32 crew on board the 40 metre Cruising Yacht. She is an amazing vessel and I was thrilled to be taking part.

What is the format of the race?

The race is held over three days. The course of this last one went all over the place. Starting right down by Palma and then over to Cala Blava, Illetas, Portals Vells; we covered some serious distances. This race involves just one lap of the course, generally kicks off at around 1pm and you will be racing until 5 or 6pm. Including preparations in the morning, you are on the water for 8 – 10 hours each day – so you are completely exhausted when you get home.

How can the Organisers maintain a level playing field if there are different sizes of yacht racing against each other? Surely that can’t be fair.

Good question! In the Superyacht cup there are 3 classes – The Cruisers – Cruiser Racers and the out and out Racers.

There are various classes of Yacht to race

There are various classes of Yacht to race

All of the yachts race at different speeds under a handicap. They all start at different times because logistically, you can’t get 25 Superyachts on a start line. The ability of each boat is estimated and then the handicap is set. They set off at different times – the slowest goes first, then the next and so on. In theory, they will all come across the finish line at a similar time but the Yachts are evaluated in a time trial. You can judge how well you have done during the day by where you stand in the order at the end.

Can anyone take part in the Race?

Theoretically yes, but in reality, this is a sport for the super wealthy. The entrance fee alone is 30,000€ and although Maria Cattiva was crewed by invited pro crew for the sheer fun and honour of participating, many of the super racers are crewed by maybe 25 professionals who are extremely well paid. You need to have deep pockets to play this game.

Perfect weather conditions

Perfect weather conditions

Is the weather important to a good race?

Yes absolutely! This year the weather was superb – we had a great sea breeze each day. Saturday this year was particularly good – the wind was so strong at times Maria Cattiva was maxed out in the up to 25 knots breeze. Once or twice toughing 15 knots boat speed!

Is it dangerous – so many large yachts racing at that speed?

Yes, of course there is an element of danger involved, but the crew are all experienced, the adrenaline is pumping and everyone is relying on their wits. The Captain on Maria Cattiva is very security orientated and so it is imperative that the boat is treated well and everyone winching etc., has to know what they are doing. Everything is done by hand and when you are dealing with a lot of tonnage on a line through a winch you need to know what you are dealing with. Most of the crew are chosen for their experience.

Is Superyacht Cup fiercely competitive or is it all played out in good part?

Its very competitive, dont be fooled!

Its very competitive, dont be fooled – everybody is in it to win it!

Most certainly, the Superyacht Cup is as competitive as it gets. Although many of the opposing crew are friends or at least know each other from other events, everyone goes out there and does their best to win. To have the Superyacht Cup pedigree, it puts a yacht in incredibly good standing for the future.

So how did you come to be invited to race with Maria Cattiva?

I was invited because I have a bit of experience I guess – I’m not a professional racer but I can handle myself on board and I know what I’m doing. I also am fortunate enough to be involved with the refit and upkeep of Maria Cattiva through my Company CYS. Maria Cattiva is such a beautiful yacht – it really is an honour and a privilege.

Some of the best yachts around!

Some of the best yachts around!

So what is the big deal about the Superyacht Cup? Why do people pay such a lot of money to race?

It doesn’t get much better than Superyacht Cup. It is a very social event – great fun and if you look at this in the grand scheme of things – how many people actually get to step onto a Superyacht and do something like this in their lifetime? Very few….. I am humbled and always happy to be invited. It is the event of the year in Palma.

The Islander Magazine was talking to Daniel Hobbs, MD of Classic Yacht Shipwrights based here in Palma.

Rib Club Global Mallorca

Rib Club GlobalHave you ever gazed enviously at those lucky devils sailing past on their yacht? Living in Mallorca it’s difficult to avoid – this island is surrounded by boats.

Owning a yacht is an expensive hobby. Before you can say “just call me Captain Jack Sparrow” you will be paying out seriously large amounts of money. In addition to the initial outlay to buy a little piece of floating heaven, there are a lot of other expenses to think about… Insurance, mooring fees and cleaning fees; then there is the depreciation factor – no wonder they say that the best two days in owning a boat are the day you buy it and the day you sell it.

Fun for all the family

Yacht Hire Mallorca

Sound familiar? Well now there is a solution. Rib Club Global based in Mallorca and Menorca is a members club where for a modest annual fee you can enjoy stress free sailing without the hassle of the maintenance or the regular hefty financial outlay.

So how does it work? You pay your annual membership fee – either Gold or Platinum depending on how often you intend you sailing – and are allocated a number of points. The points are then exchanged for a day out sailing on a 6 or 7.5 metre rib. The beauty of this plan is you turn up on the requested day – spend the day swanning around the island taking in

Family & Friends Fun

Family & Friends Fun

the beautiful scenery – maybe enjoy a picnic on a secluded beach, then return, moor up and walk away.

The Ribs are large enough to safely seat 8 people on a day out so in theory, it is possible to split the annual membership fee between two families if required. Share the cost – share the fun.

Novice Sailor? No problem – Rib Club Global will organize two days training to get you up and running – or indeed if you have experience but are a little rusty, it is possible to have just a refresher course. Travel anywhere via water!

Once the initial annual membership fee has been paid, the plan has a reasonable amount of flexibility to it and more points can be purchased and added on if you get half way through the year and have used up all your points.

Interested? For more information about how this exciting concept can have you enjoying hassle free sailing around Mallorca please do not hesitate to contact: +34608 403 889
Email, or

Please mention The Islander when contacting – thankyou.