Classic sailing returns to the Balearic Islands once again, thanks to the Regatta Illes Balears Clàssics organized by the Club de Mar Mallorca. This year, as the event celebrates its 28th anniversary, it promises to be a grand edition with more than 30 registered boats, a number that comfortably surpasses the figures of recent editions.
The regatta retains its three days of competition, which were reinstated in the previous edition following health restrictions. The first day, August 17th, is reserved for registrations, document submissions, and a warm welcome to participants. From Friday through Sunday, depending on weather conditions, one or two races per day will determine the champions. While every sporting event has its winners, the most significant achievement of the Illes Balears Clàssics Regatta is the gathering of these sailing marvels in the Bay of Palma, each with a unique story, often spanning more than a century.
This year, the regatta also commemorates the centennial maritime journey of Barbara, an Italian-flagged yawl, making its debut at Illes Balears Clàssics. This vessel holds a special place in sailing history as the first to embrace the Marconi, or Bermudian rig (triangular sails) instead of the common Gaff rig (trapezoidal sails). However, it won’t be the oldest vessel gracing Palma Bay this year; that distinction goes to Grayling, launched in England in 1900, marking the turn of the 20th century. Rafa Carrió rescued this boat after it had languished in a Valencia marina for nearly two decades.
Gipsy 1927, from Spain’s Classic Sailing Foundation, will also make an appearance. This vessel played a role in espionage during the Spanish Civil War, evidenced by the shrapnel scars on its masts. Palma won’t host just one ‘spy ship’; the schooner So Fong, launched in Hong Kong in 1937, spent years ‘incarcerated’ in Vietnam, accused of espionage for the United States during the conflict between the two nations. Manitou, another yawl launched over 80 years ago, which served as a retreat for John Fitzgerald Kennedy, a sailing enthusiast, during his tragically short tenure in the White House, will also participate in the Illes Balears Clàssics.
Commodore of the Club de Mar, Manuel Nadal, emphasized during the regatta presentation, held this morning at the Museu Marítim de ses Voltes, that “in these days, our club also becomes an authentic floating museum where we can enjoy true gems of history and navigation.” Nadal also acknowledged the presence of Mallorcan boats in the competition, including the Orion and the Rosendo, both based at the Club de Mar, as well as the Marigan and the Margarita Estalindalamar, among others.
On the other hand, the Club de Mar’s Managing Director, José Luis Arrom, stressed that “it is an honor for us to host these vessels, and we want to congratulate their owners for maintaining these magnificent sailboats.” Arrom announced a special edition of the Illes Balears Clàssics in conjunction with the inauguration of the club’s renovated facilities. According to his estimates, the event brings together around 280 people each year solely in crews, a number that rises to 460 when staff and companions are included. He calculated that the event has an approximate economic impact of one million euros in just three days of competition.
The Illes Balears Clàssics at the Club de Mar is divided into two main categories: Vintage boats, built before 1950, and Classic boats, launched between 1950 and 1975, all constructed with traditional materials, primarily wood. Also participating are the RI Classics and Spirit of Tradition classes, encompassing older boats that have undergone some modifications. Finally, boats that wish to participate in the event without competing are registered in the Presence class.
History will come alive also on land thanks to the exhibition at the club of Virot, a new gussi, a small fishing boat with the same shape at the bow and stern, built by the Consell de Mallorca’s mestres d’aixa workshop based on templates from the master Antoni Llonch, a historical figure in the craft who worked in the handmade boat construction industry in the late 19th century. Additionally, two classic cars will be on display during the regatta in the event’s social area, thanks to the collaboration of Mallorca Wedding Cars, further reinforcing their commitment to the Club de Mar’s heritage.
The regatta will also feature a varied programme of social events, allowing participating teams to enjoy time of leisure at the end of each day. In addition to Thursday’s welcome, the Crew Party will be held the following day. Each day, the return to port will be enlivened with musical entertainment and after-race drinks. The last day of competition, Sunday, culminates in the price giving ceremony that concludes this year’s Illes Balears Clàssics.
This regatta of vintage and classic boats joins the CIM Circuit this year, the most important classic sailing circuit in the Mediterranean. The CIM Circuit (Comité Internacional para el Mediterráneo) has been reactivated this season with a total of ten events taking place between May and October in four different countries: Spain, Italy, France, and Monaco.
The comprehensive renovation of the Club de Mar, currently underway, is expected to be completed in the second half of 2024, with the new facilities set to open in the summer of 2025. To commemorate this, a high-level social and sporting program is being prepared, featuring a special and grand edition of the Illes Balears Clàssics as its centerpiece. The event is anticipated to include both the boats that have been regulars at the club in recent years and any others eager to join this celebration.
This year, the regatta is proudly sponsored by Allianz and BAS&JOSA, in addition to collaborations with Gin Gipsy 1927 and Heineken, among others. Their commitment to maritime heritage and classic sailing makes events like the Illes Balears Clàssics, organized by the Club de Mar Mallorca, possible.