Gaastra PalmaVela at Real Club Náutico de Palma
Gaastra PalmaVela is regarded as one of the most prestigious regattas in the Spanish sailing calendar and the start of the Mediterranean season for around 120 competing boats from over 20 different countries.
The Maxis and Mini-Maxis arrive from Caribbean waters to join yachts based in the Med to dust off the cobwebs and enjoy some welcoming Balearic Spring sailing weather.
Organised by the Real Club Nautico de Palma, the regatta held over four days from 1 – 4 May was sailed on four course areas in the Bay of Palma with a different fleet enjoying a longer coastal race on each day. The winds stayed mainly light for the duration of the regatta with some big shifts providing plenty of opportunity for the professional tacticians to use some brain matter.
Real Club Nautico de Palma arrange an active social scene with two race villages offering an abundance of drinks and snacks to keep weary sailors coming back year after year.
Wally’s and Maxis provide the glamour
The glamour yachts of the regatta are the Maxis and this year’s 11th edition of PalmaVela kicked off the Wally Class season, which comprises four regattas: after the Real Club Náutico de Palma’s regatta, there will be the Menorca Maxi Cup (Mahón, Balearic Islands), Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup (Porto Cervo, Italy) and Les Voiles de Saint Tropez (France).
Six races were scheduled for the Maxi’s with the final weekend consisting of two longer coastal races. A record number of nine Wally’s raced in the regatta ranging from the biggest ‘Angel Share’ built in 2009, her dimensions speak for themselves: 40 meters LOA, with more than 7 metres beam and 727 square metres of sail area, equal in area to almost three tennis courts. Argentinian Javier Soto is Angel’s Share’s naval architect, while the exterior and interior design are by Wally boss Luca Bassani.
In addition to her, in size order, from the largest to the smallest LOA: ‘Kenora’ the winner of the 2013 Wally racing series ‘Open Season’, with multi Olympic medallist Jochen Schuemann onboard, ‘Magic Carpet Cubed’ the new ‘WallyCento’ that was third overall in Palma last year, ‘Magic Blue’, ‘Galma’, the boat with the most Spaniards onboard and the victor of the Gaastra PalmaVela’s past edition ‘J One’, owned by Frenchman Jean Charles Decaux. The smallest of the Wally Class were the 80 footers ‘Tango G’ and ‘Ryokan 2’.
The Wally’s and Maxis sailed two days of windward/leeward courses in light to moderate shifting breezes but with an abundance of past Olympic, Round the World and championship winning tacticians onboard, racing was still intense. There were a few shredded spinnakers and a couple of collisions during the regatta to keep the boat builders and sailmakers onshore busy overnight.
Magic Carpet Cubed wins the Wally class
Throughout the four days of racing Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones’ ‘Magic Carpet Cubed’ and Antonio Cacace’s ‘Magic Blue’ had traded places so the gongs would go down to the final day. ‘Magic Carpet Cubed’ gained the advantage in a tricky last day’s 27 nm coastal race sailed in very light winds to take overall first position. Behind the British crew, Antonio Cacace’s Magic Blue with Sergio Lottini at the helm, took second and third went to last edition’s winner, Jean-Charles Decaux’s J One with Piers Richardson as skipper.
Close racing in the Mini-Maxis
The Mini-Maxi division included numerous sailors with experience in Olympic sailing, around the world offshore racing and America’s Cup match racing.
Much of the attention was centred around the debut of two new boats. Swede Niklas Zennstrom launched the brand new all black ‘Rán V’, with British navigator Steve Hayles and Adrian Stead as tactician.
Andrés Soriano’s new silver rocket ship ‘Alegre’ had in their crew kiwi Andy Meiklejohn and Spanish round the world sailor Antonio Cuervas-Mons as bowman.
Meanwhile, Roberto Tomasini’s ‘Robertissima’, mostly Italian crew including Vasco Vascotto was competing for the first time with his new boat (former Rán).
‘Jethou’ the other jet black Mini-Maxi (former Stig) also had former Alinghi America’s Cup winner Brad Butterworth among her ranks.
Palma based Rán V, winner in Mini Maxi
Niklas Zennström’s ‘Rán V’ won the spoils with an impressive performance in his brand new boat. ‘Rán V’ started the final day with five podiums out of five races sailed, a very comfortable points cushion. The fight for the remainder of the podium places was between the pursuers. In the final day’s coastal race, Andrés Soriano’s ‘Alegre’ won to take third place overall. Roberto Tomasini’s ‘Robertissima’ with Vasco Vascotto as tactician, settled for second overall.
Provezza 7 finishes the job in IRC
The IRC division was dominated by the two TP52’s that were primarily using the regatta as a warmup for the Barclays 52 Super Series which begins on the island of Capri at the end of May.
After taking the lead on Saturday, ‘Provezza 7’ won her division for the second consecutive year. After a close battle with ‘Phoenix’ throughout the regatta the Turkish crew added a first and a second place on the final day’s racing to put them on top of the leaderboard with a three-point lead over Eduardo de Souza’s ‘Phoenix’, second, and six points clear of Harm Muller’s ‘Platoon’ in third .
The Brazilian team leaves Palma happy with their second place in their first regatta onboard the TP52 designed by Spanish yacht designer Marcelino Botín and launched just over a month ago.
The Barclays 52 Super Series will return to Palma waters in August for Copa del Rey which forms part of the grand prix series.
Victory for Bigamist and first blood in the Soto 40 European championship
Portuguese Pedro Mendonça’s ‘Bigamist’ with Afonso Domingos at the helm, improved from second place achieved last year to take the chocolates and record the first scoring win in the Soto 40 European championship.
The team climbed up to first place overall after finishing first and second in the final days racing. German Hendrik Brandis’ ‘Earlybird’ took second with ‘Glen Ellen XXII’, skippered by Guillaume Berenger, completing the Soto 40 podium.
The fleet will face each other again in Porquerolles, France, where the second qualifying event for the European championship will be held.
Bribon Movistar wins her first Gaastra PalmaVela in the J/80
The J80’s shared a course with the Flying Fifteens and Dragons racing a regatta of nine races on predominantly windward/leeward courses.
After three intense days of light and very shifty conditions, Spanish boat ‘Bribon Movistar’ rose to the top of the leaderboard to be proclaimed winner of the Gaastra PalmaVela in the J/80 class. The boat led by Marc de Antonio and Sofía Bertrand won two out of the three races sailed on the final day. ‘Bribon Movistar’ achieved their first victory in this one-design class with a 17-point lead on Sebastian Allebrot’s ‘Mnemoc’. Third place went to Javier Chacartegui’s ‘HM-Hotels’.
Triumph for Gecko in Flying Fifteens
The Flying Fifteen class also sailed nine races on windward/leeward courses with a short fetch between windward and spreader mark to provide a fast reach. A number of races had to be re-sailed as the local thermal breeze battled with the slow forming sea breeze resulting in some long hours on the water.
Palma based Michael Clough’s ‘Gecko’ took victory in the Flying Fifteen class after three days at the top of the podium. Second was Irish boat ‘Olive Oyl’ helmed by Ken Dumpleton, five points behind, with the Spanish flagged ‘Fine Fettle’ with David Barber at the helm, finally overtaking last years winner ‘Flyinghigh’ sailed by Cala Gamba based crew Vincent and Patrick Harris in the overall results. The Fifteens were also getting valuable time on the water in preparation for their European Championship to be held in Pollensa in Mallorca in September.
Aphrodite unrivaled in the Dragon class
A small but beautifully turned out Dragon fleet with some wonderful wooden restoration work always look graceful on the Balearic waters. The Dragon class became a battle between the Irish flagged ‘Aphrodite’ skippered by Robin Hennessy and the Dutch boat ‘Dragonera’ skippered by Robert Holthuizen. The ‘Aphrodite’ crew added two seconds and a first place on the final day to place them at the top of the podium with 10pts. ‘Dragonera’ was second with 13pts, while third place went to local Spanish boat ‘Young Tiger’ sailed by Carlos Canbajal.
Enterprise and Samurai, winners of Vintage and Classic boats
Albert Kusak’s ‘Enterprise’ (RCNP) won the Vintage division at Gaastra PalmaVela while Monegasque ‘Moonbeam IV’ climbed to second position of the podium on the last day of the event. ‘Marigan’ completed the podium in the Vintage class.
Similar to the Vintage class, the Classic fleet completed a coastal race which Luigi Pavese’s ‘Samurai’ won. ‘Margarita Estalindalamar’ and ‘Rosendo’ were second and third respectively.
In Lateen Sail Llaüt, Miguel Río’s ‘Annika’ repeated his victory from 2013. Behind him, Toni Jover’s ‘Savanna’ took second place and Bartomeu Homar’s ‘Pandora‘ finished third, both from the CNC Gamba in Mallorca.
Gaastra PalmaVela even includes a Disabled Sailing division who sail just in front of the cathedral with an active following from the RCNP.
ORC divisions for Cruising/Cruiser Racer boats
The Cruiser/Cruiser Racing classes were divided into five divisions depending on size and raced a 4/5 race series on a course in the middle of the bay with one coastal race. These classes always provide a colourful spectacle with a variety of designs, spinnaker colours and shapes. Racing is on handicap and the fleets are largely made up of Spanish boats from all parts of Mallorca and mainland Spain with a smattering of overseas visitors from all over Europe. For results of these classes visit: www.palmavela.com
All regatta participants were able to assemble on the terrace of the RCNP for the prize giving held in glorious evening sunshine with the now infamous club catering and bountiful gin supply to round off a great four days of racing.
For all results visit: www.palmavela.com
By Jonny Fullerton, Grand Prix Sailing