Perfect champagne sailing conditions, a solid Bay-of-Palma sea breeze of up to 20 knots and spring sunshine, signed off the 16th Sail Racing Palma Vela regattas as one of the very best for many years.
Not surprisingly the biggest smiles were shared by the winners across the 15 classes, but as the long standing curtain raiser event is designed to shake off the winter rust and set teams up for the season ahead, the range of light to moderately fresh conditions gave the 110 teams a highly competitive work out.
With just over one week before the TP52 class starts racing on nearby Menorca for the first points races of the 2019 52 Super Series, the 16thSail Racing PalmaVela has been an intense, no compromise warm-up for the highly competitive, very evenly matched fleet of 10 boats.
Quantum Racing, the 2018 circuit champions, have made five changes to their title winning line-up but proved they are adapting fast and are in much better shape to defend the five regatta series than some might have expected.
With America’s Cup winner Ed Baird back in the skipper-helm role they never finished worse than a couple of fifths to win by six points ahead of Harm Müller-Spreer’s Platoon. The German flagged team struggled with an ill timed port tack approach to the top mark in the second race which resulted in a seventh.
Platoonalso had to make a penalty earlier in the event, resulting in a ninth in Race 3. Both errors might be down to pressing the risk factor harder in what is seen by all as a valuable training regatta.
Azzurra, the Roemmers family’s TP52 which races for the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, finished third overall executing the strongest second half of the podium placed teams, sailing 1,2,3,2 from the last four of the eight races sailed.
Winning skipper-helm Ed Baird was delighted to register the first regatta win of the season but was more pleased that the Quantum Racing team have improved their crew work and executions with each race: “ We made some mistakes here and there but I am excited that everyone on the team is working so hard. It is different with new guys on board. It is about learning communication, timing, just understanding how the person next to you operates is so important during races which are won by a few metres here and there.
I told the guys before the start of sailing today ‘sure we are going to try and win the regatta, that is what we would to like have happen, but to me the success of the week has been to get improve each race. That is not necessarily improving the result each race but that we improved with how we operated and that is the greatest feeling.”
“It is so exciting that a class like this which has been around for a while now is still relevant, we can go out and have these amazing races and all come back having had such a good time.”
Top performance at the entire regatta was the French IRC 52 Arobas 2 of Gerard Logel an owner who has tasted success with his modified TP52 at many of the big offshore races in the Mediterranean including the Giraglia, Middle Sea Race and second at the MAPFRE Copa del Rey in the past.
Arobas 2rolled out a perfect scoreline of five first places in the six boat Mallorca Sotheby’s ORC 0 class, Logel, who races out of Saint Tropez, said, “This has been such a good regatta. Our boat is derived from a TP52 but we don’t fit in the box rule class and it is too much investment to race in that fleet. Out boat is more versatile and we are too. We are happy with this ORC 0 fleet. This boat is perfect for me. We have a Swan for cruising and this 52 for regattas.”
In the big boat IRC fleet the overall win was handed to Vera, the Reichel Pugh 83 footer of Miguel Galuccio, as their only rival Magic Carpet 3 did not race today. The pair were all square going in to today and so the crew lead by Volvo Race veteran Bouwe Bekking took the overall win.
Racing in the new Viper 640 sportboat class has been close, spirited and exciting in the stronger breezes especially. The local youngsters of the host club, the Real Club Nautico de Palma lead by coach Pedro Mari, held off the challenge from Lawrence Crispin, a past Laser World Champion, on his Hissing Sid. The home Palma team won by a single point.
Marí, skipper of Team RCNP, commented,“We are very happy. We wouldn’t expect this result, because our opponents are better than us. They have beaten us the three previous regattas, they have raced in world championships and have been sailing Viper for the last three years. But since day one we had very good feelings. The kids adapted really well to the boat, considering this was their first event on a Viper. We did well in all the manoeuvres.”
English helm Crispin acknowledged, “There was a bit of match racing in the second race and our Spanish rival covered us all the way round the course, but they sailed well. It has been a great week, the sailing today was excellent, totally champagne sailing!”
The Dragon class produced a close finish too, Welsh helm Eddie Owen, the RORC CEO, having to settle for second place, also by a single point, behind Otto Pohlmann’s German crew of Meerblick. Ownen smiled, “It was a bit tough. We are not too disappointed, just a bit disappointed because you always want to win. But we were a bit rusty, especially at the start of the regatta, but the guys who won are good Dragon sailors who deserve to win and sail in the fleet all the time. Yesterday we had our first breezy race and that was a bit of a reminder how tough the boats are.”
In Mallorca Sotheby’s ORC 1 it was Portuguese Star ace Afonso Domingos who helped guide Pit Finnis’ Swan 42 CS Dralion to success, “It was not easy racing in a mixed fleet ORC class as some boats are higher and faster than you. The team sailed well and the conditions were great, it has been a great regatta.”Said Domingos.
After four great days of racing the champions of the 16thSail Racing PalmaVela are:
Quantum Racing (TP52), Vera (IRC), Arobas2 (Mallorca Sotheby’s ORC 0), Dralion (Mallorca Sotheby’s ORC 1), Shazam (Mallorca Sotheby’s ORC 2), Vertigo Dos Texia (Mallorca Sotheby’s ORC 3), Just the Job (Mallorca Sotheby’s ORC 4-5), Atila (J80), Meerblick (Dragon), Puffin (Flying Fifteen), Team RCNP (Viper), Marigan (Classic/Vintage), January Sails (Spirit of Tradition), Fundación Alex (Hansa 303 Individual) and Team RCNP 1 (Hansa 303 Double)