With the magnificent metropolis of Istanbul as a backdrop, the event’s strongest fleet ever of 80 yachts, will line up tomorrow on the Sea of Marmara for the opening races of the Bosphorus Cup. These start on Friday with some windward-leeward and coastal courses in the Caddebostan-Prince Islands-Kalamisarea before Saturday’s famous race in the narrows of the Bosphorus itself within the heart of Istanbul, before returning for Sunday’s grand finale off Caddebostan. Saturday’s race is a major achievement as to run it the Bosphorus Cup’s organisers have negotiated getting the narrow strait separating mainland Europe from Asia (which typically sees five times the traffic of the Panama Canal), closed to commercial traffic for five hours.
This year the Bosphorus Cup fleet is divided into four main classes grouped together by their performance under the IRC rating system with additional lORC and cruiser classes. Once again the longest, fastest participant is Yildirim Kaymaz’s Farr 55 Orient Express VI ahead of the Farr 52 Chocolate 3 of Switzerland’s Francois Bopp at the top of IRC One, while the smallest competing is Ahmet Levent Karabeyoğlu’s Cheese 6.5 sportsboat Roku.
International competitors met this morning at a special Bosphorus Cup Breakfast event held at the prestigious Istanbul Yelken Kulubü (Istanbul Sailing Club) by Fenerbahçe Setur Marina. This was hosted by regatta organizer Orhan Gorbon and attended by Ceylan Şensoy, Product Marketing Director of the Türkiye Tourism Promotion and Development Agency and Sports Marketing Assistance Manager Serhan Sarı.
One of the most promising entries will certainly be Valentin Oeru’s Swan 42CS Lion’s Story. One of the 15-strong Romanian entry at this year’s Bosphorus Cup, Lion’s Story is unique among them in having previously competed in the Rolex Middle Sea Race and at Swan and ORC events in Italy and elsewhere in the Mediterranean.
So what is the attraction of the Bosphorus Cup? “It is different,” says Oeru. “It is a bit like Messina [Strait – between Sicily and the toe of Italy] with the current, but it is narrower and it is impressive because the intensity [of the current] is very different and can make you win or lose.”
Oeru’s team finished second in the Corinthian division of Class B at the ORC Worlds in Porto Cervo in 2022. Among his otherwise Romanian crew this year are three Italians including Edoardo Mancinelli Scotti, from Rome, for whom racing on this stretch of the Sea of Marmara is significant: it was here in 2007 that he won the European Championship for the hotly competitive 420 two-handed dinghy. “This is my first time at the Bosphorus Cup,” said Scotti. “It is very interesting with a good balance between inshore and coastal racing. The Bosphorus race will be a long one and will be tricky because of the current and the wind conditions.”
Overall winner of Class B at last year’s ORC World Championship was Catalin Trandafir, Romania’s most prolific international yachtsmen, having raced in the ORC, Maxi and most recently the 6mR classes. Trandafir is once again here with Essentia, the Soto 40 (once the one design that accompanied the TP52s on the Audi MedCup), that he keeps at home. “I started coming here four years ago and it is now a regular part of my year,” says Trandafir. “It is a very nice place to be and the organisation does a really good job. Every year they are improving and this year we have the biggest fleet so far.” While he has performed well here previously, this year his Soto 40 has an entirely new crew.
From further afield is the Beneteau First 40.7 Team DOSC Baby Dracula entered by the Dubai Offshore Sailing Club, led by Semih Ozkan. In fact all of the crew are Turkish, however all but two currently work and reside in Dubai. “It is one of the iconic events,” says Ozkan, who heralds from Mersin on Turkey’s southeastern coast. “Tacking between continents in the Bosphorus is very exciting and it is very challenging too in such a confined space.” Training for this event in the UAE has not been without problems, including having to go out yachting in scorching 50°C temperatures. Their crew includes one woman Isil Akcan, who also lives in Dubai but is originally from Istanbul.
The strong line-up for the 22nd Bosphorus Cup also features an all-female crew, who, like Baby Dracula’s Semih Ozkan also come from Mersin. “This event faces Europe and we wanted to present ourselves to the Turkish public as a modern women’s team,” says Esra Kahraman, who is skippering the Azuree 33 Denizanalari/Jellyfish with four other women (all professionals – Gulpınar Turkoglu, Sua Soysal, Ayse Saydan and Buket Inal) in the Cruising class. “We are here to show that if women want to do something, they can.”
The race management for the 22nd Bosphorus Cup is also an international one under former Olympic race officer Nino Shmueli and with an international jury from Greece, France, Israel and Turkey.
New features of this year’s Bosphorus Cup include live coverage from 1200 (local time UTC+3) of Saturday’s race in the Bosphorus and also ‘live’ results, posted directly on line from the race committee boat immediately as yachts finish.