43 years of blowing out candles
The Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofia MAPFRE started as an almost “amateur” event for the Dragon class and has become a reference for the whole world of sailing. Its history is not written in the books but remains in the memory of those that year after year have participated in the 43 editions held of the prestigious Mallorcan event.
The Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofia was born in 1968 with only one participating class, the Dragon, based at Real Club Náutico de Palma. Six years later, in 1974, it was also called Palma International Week with the incorporation of new classes Soling, 470, Snipe, 420, Finn and Europe by express wish of HM Queen Sofia, who was then Princess of Spain and the event was named after her.
It was then that the event became organised by four clubs: Palma, S’Arenal, San Antonio de la Playa and de Mar -instead of the present organiser Calanova-. This enabled the event to continue growing and in 1976 the event was open to new classes Vaurien and cruisers. Two years later the Olympic character of the event began to show with the temporary replacement of the Dragon by the Star.
The Spanish Royal Family has always been very involved with the Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofia MAPFRE, in fact, from the first edition. The then Prince Don Juan Carlos began sailing in the Dragon class in which he won together with the Duke of Arión and Félix Gancedo in 1973, 1974 and 1975 on board “Fortuna”.
Also from the beginning, the Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofia awarded a trophy to the absolute winner of all classes and had a very international participation. For instance, in the 13th edition, 15 nations entered. This figure is far away from the 48 nations entered in last year’s edition, but it is not a bad number considering it was 1980. It was a special edition because it had the participation of HM the King in the cruiser class and HRH the Prince of Asturias and Infantas Elena y Cristina, in 420.
But the history of the Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofia is also a history full of anecdotes, as the one recalled by Quico Llompart, founding member of Real Club Náutico de Palma and veteran sailor. “Once, during the cruiser offshore race, when we were almost at Cabrera, we had to sail back because the Navy was doing some military manoeuvres. I heard it on the radio and one cannot imagine the disappointment experienced by all of us”, explains Llompart.
Towards a professional event
The “amateur” atmosphere of those first editions, in which there were around twenty competitors per class, seems far away nowadays. For many years and due to the high number of entries in most classes, the organizers decided to work towards quality and limit participation by selecting teams in accordance with the ISAF world sailing ranking lists. The result was a high level event, with strong and spectacular racing.
On this way to becoming a professional event, it was decided to concentrate on Olympic sailing with the disappearance of the non-Olympic dinghy sailing events but maintaining the Dragon as
Inaugural class. Furthermore, the Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofia MAPFRE for Olympic sailing was separated from the Cruiser competition.
In this way, the Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofia MAPFRE almost “amateur” during the first editions has become a highly professional event with great media and social impact.
Undoubtedly, Queen Sofia – who presides over the prize giving ceremony every year-, has contributed to a large extent together with the experience and professional approach of the organisers to the success of the event. In fact, in November 2008, the ISAF awarded the silver medal to Jaime Enseñat, one of the most important persons of the team and who was president of the organising committee of the Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofia MAPFRE during 35 years.
The institutions support the Sofia
The present organising team is formed by Real Club Náutico de Palma, Club Nàutic S’Arenal, Club Marítimo San Antonio de la Playa and Escuela Nacional de Vela Calanova, together with the Spanish and Balearic sailing federations, the Govern de les Illes Balears, the Consell de Mallorca as well as Palma and Llucmajor city councils, besides insurance company MAPFRE, the event sponsor for fourth consecutive year. They all constituted in 2008 the Consortium Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofia, a guarantee of the institutional support to the event.
The exceptional weather conditions of the bay of Palma at the beginning of spring are one of the elements that contribute to its success. In fact, for many teams springtime begins at the Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofia MAPFRE, with the embat wind and the sun warming the island and the welcoming character of the people from Mallorca. The Sofia “is a blend of the essence of Mallorca: the sea, nautical sport and the enthusiasm that the event becomes a competition of international scope”.
Among the best in the world
For 43 years, the Trofeo SAR Princesa Sofia MAPFRE gathers together in the bay of Palma around one thousand boats and 1,500 sailors, with the top ten world teams of each class, World, European and Olympic champions, representing up to 48 nations in the past edition. For most of them, it a selection event for the national Olympic teams.
This is how the event has become a trademark of its own and an emblem for Spanish and international sailing, which is certified since 2009 3with the inclusion of the event in the ISAF Sailing World Cup since the beginning.
The Trofeo SAR Princesa Sofia MAPFRE reaches its 43nd edition being among the top seven top events in the world. The fact of being part of the ISAF Sailing World Cup is the best acknowledgment possible to the work carried out day by day, year after by each and every person involved in the organization of the event, with a self-improvement spirit and dedication only understood from a disinterested love for the sport of sailing and the island of Mallorca.