The President of the Government, Francina Armengol, attended the presentation ceremony of the 51st edition of the Trofeo S. A. R. Princesa Sofía de Vela, at the Hotel Iberostar Selection Llaut Palma.
The event was also attended by the Minister of Economic Model, Tourism and Labour, Iago Negueruela; the Mayor of Palma, José Hila; the Director General of Sports, Carles Gonyalons; the President of the Club Marítimo San Antonio de la Playa (Can Pastilla), Jesús Comas Mulet, and the director of the regatta, Javier Zaynoun, among other authorities.
From the 1st to the 9th of April, the regatta will bring together more than 1,000 participants in the Bay of Palma.
We will take a look at the beginnings of the Trofeo H.R.H. Princesa Sofía. It began as an almost “amateur” regatta for the Dragon class and has ended up becoming a benchmark for the whole of world sailing. Its history is not written in books but remains in the memory of those who year after year have participated in the 43 editions of the prestigious regatta held so far in Mallorca.
The Trofeo S.A.R. La Princesa Sofía was established in 1968 with only one class, the Dragon, and based at the Real Club Náutico de Palma. Six years later, in 1974, it was also renamed Palma International Week, when, at the express wish of H.M. Queen Sofia – at that time still Princess, hence the name of the competition – the Soling, 470, Snipe, 420, Finn and Europa classes were incorporated.
It was then that the regatta became organised by four clubs, then those of Palma, S’Arenal, San Antonio de la Playa and de Mar – instead of the current Calanova. This allowed it to continue to grow, and in 1976 the Vaurien and Cruisers were admitted. Two years later, the future Olympic character of the regatta began to take shape, with the temporary replacement of the Dragon by the Star.
The Spanish Royal Family has always been closely linked to the H.R.H. Princess Sofia Trophy, in fact since its first edition. The then Prince Don Juan Carlos started sailing in the Dragon class, in which he won together with the Duke of Arión and Félix Gancedo in 1973, 1974 and 1975 aboard the “Fortuna”.
Also from the beginning, the H.R.H. Princess Sofia Trophy awarded a trophy to the overall winner of all classes, and from the beginning, it also enjoyed very international participation. In the 13th edition, for example, there were 15 participating countries. This is a far cry from the 53 nations that entered last year’s event, but not bad for 1980. It was an emblematic edition because it also counted with the participation of H.M. the King, who competed in the Cruiser, and H.R.H. the Prince of Asturias and the Infantas Elena and Cristina, who competed in the 420.
But the history of the H.R.H. Princess Sofia Trophy is also a history of anecdotes, such as the one recalled by Quico Llompart, founding member of the Real Club Náutico de Palma and veteran sailor. “On one occasion, during the long cruiser regatta, when we were about to reach Cabrera, we had to turn back because the Navy was carrying out military manoeuvres. I heard about it on the radio and you can’t imagine the disappointment we all felt,” Llompart recounts.
The “amateur” atmosphere of those first editions, in which there were around twenty participants per class, is now a long way off. Several years ago, and faced with the avalanche of applications for the competition in most of its categories, the organisers decided to focus on quality and limit participation, selecting crews according to their position in the ISAF ranking, which resulted in a high level, more competitive and spectacular event.
On this path towards professionalisation, it was decided to fully commit to Olympic sailing, eliminating from the programme the dinghy classes that were still participating, although the Dragon was maintained as it was the inaugural class. Likewise, the H.R.H. Princess Sofia Trophy for Olympic sailing was totally disassociated from the Cruising classes.
Thus, from the almost “amateur” H.R.H. Princess Sofia Trophy of the early years, it has become a highly professional competition, which has contributed to the regatta having great media coverage and a notable social impact.
This has undoubtedly been helped by Queen Sofia – who presides over the prize-giving ceremony each year – but also by the experience and professionalism of the organisers. In November 2008, the ISAF awarded the silver medal for sporting merit to one of the most important men on the team, Jaime Enseñat, who chaired the organising committee of the H.R.H. Princess Sofia Trophy for 35 years.