Friday, May 23, 2014

Forty Years' Wait: Can Picafort

Of the northern resorts, Can Picafort can sometimes be overlooked because of the attention paid to its wealthier neighbour along the bay in Alcúdia or to that of the resort in the next bay of Pollensa. In one sense, this lesser attention has been justified. The Can Picafort marina does not match the grandeur of the Alcúdiamar or the splendour of Puerto Pollensa's yacht club. But things are changing in Can Picafort, and one of the more obvious changes is the presence of the new Club Náutico.

The story of the club is one that dates back many years. It was in fact founded in 1949 when a group of summer vacationers established the "Club Nàutic de Can Picafort". In the 1970s, the founding members of the club came up with a project for the development of the marina, one that was meant to have come to fruition the following decade. What the members hadn't bargained on was that funding problems led them to lose control over the project, of the marina and so of the possible development of the clubhouse.

The financial problems arose in 1972, leading to years of degradation of the marina. In 1985, work having been paralysed for all that time, the club's board sought the financial help of the tourism sector in the resort. A company, Puerto Deportivo de Can Picafort S.A. was formed, but there then followed more than two decades of legal dispute and further financial problems. These were such that the club was brought to the point of bankruptcy. It had a contract with the company, which comprised tourist businesses and hoteliers locally, to perform work on the marina's development. The lack of work that was done finally led the club, which held the concession for the marina all this time, to go to court, claiming breach of contract. Having been the concession holder, however, it was the club which was liable for costs and for fees for the marina's use, and not the contractor. It was these liabilities which nearly caused the bankruptcy.

In 2008, a court in Inca considered the case and a year later issued a ruling in favour of the club and against the contractor. The court ruled that the contractor should pay the mooring fees that the club had been paying. There were appeals - to the provincial court in Palma and then to the Balearics High Court. It ratified the decision of the Inca court. At the start of 2011, the contractor was instructed to vacate the port area completely. It was only then that serious work to improve the marina and to build the yacht club could begin.

Even then it wasn't all plain sailing, so to speak. Santa Margalida town hall opposed the building of the clubhouse, arguing that such a development was expressly forbidden under local planning regulations from way back in 1986. However, the Ports Authority gave permission, and its decisions countermand those of town halls.

Eventually, 41 years after the financial problems first arose, the Club Náutico building came into existence.

The tortuous and tangled story of the club acts as a prologue for what is taking place this weekend. Can Picafort now has its club and it wants to make itself better known as nautical sports destination, just in the same way as Puerto Alcúdia - especially Puerto Alcúdia - has over the past few years. Any disagreement that there was between the town hall and the club has been set to one side. They are both engaged in promoting this weekend's first Nautical Sports Fair and Gastronomy (calamari) Fair.

The fair is, therefore, a celebration of the hoped-for future of Can Picafort as a nautical sports resort and of that complicated past. Forty odd years is a long time to wait.

Programme in English:

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