Racing PalmaVela Day 2: Crews Defy the Unseasonal Drizzle As Racing Remains ClosePalma, 4th May 2018
The weather may have been more reminiscent of more northerly latitudes – chilly with a few drops of rain – rather than Palma Bay’s usual sunshine and reliable sea breezes but the second day of the 15th Sail Racing Palma Vela regatta offered challenging racing in winds which were as low as two knots and as much as 22 knots at different times through the racing day.
Azzurra consolidated their lead in the very hot TP52 class thanks to their first and third from the two more windward leeward contests sailed today on a grey Bay of Palma. The top three boats emerging at this curtain raising early season event are very much the ‘usual suspects’, Azzurra leading Quantum Racing and world champions Platoon in third after two days of racing.
Season title holders Azzurra are six points clear but behind them there are just four points between second and fifth, Hasso Plattner’s Phoenix which has Ed Baird as tactician.
“Azzurra are strong, it is the same three teams right now. Quantum Racing are a bit hit or miss because they have barely just got into their boat and so are learning, those teams will be strong this season again. They are solid teams. It will be an interesting season because the gaps between these ‘best’ teams are getting smaller and smaller all the time. They are shrinking fast.” Comments Rod Davis, Sled’s coach.Azzurra came from behind on the last run to win a photo finish with Quantum Racing. In the second race it was Harm Müller Spreer’s Platoon which won ahead of Quantum Racing, which has Dean Barker steering, making good gains down the final run.
“It was a bit like the Solent out there!” smiled Guillermo Parada the Azzurra skipper-helm. “We did two tidy races today, we lost a position in the second race and gained a position in the first race. So for the day we are even. Slowly we are getting the communication and gelling with Santi (Lange). Overall it has been a positive day considering the conditions. You had to stay in phase with the big changes in the wind direction and the wind strength. Santi did a good job of being patient, waiting for the good moments to tack or gybe for the next shift or puff. We were relatively quick which is a good situation looking forwards for the season. We are learning, coming back to the dock having learned something which is good.”
After five races there is just one point separating four of the five Melges 40s racing, Richard Goransson’s Inga still holding the slenderest of leads on 9pts. Yukiro Ishida’s Sikon, winner of the last regatta of last season, took the gun in the first race, while the Russian flagged Dynamiq-Synergy Sailing Team won the second race to move up to second overall on that tie break. Their Italian tactician Michele Ivaldi reported, “It is great racing with the five boats all at the same level we can expect different results in every race. Today in the shifty winds the field was levelled up. It was vital today to play the shifts well and to go fast downwind. We had a couple of very good runs in 22kts of wind and were doing 18 to 19kts which was great, really fun. Yesterday Inga was standing out but today everybody was very even, all the boats really were the same today.”
With Denmark’s Palma based three times Olympic medallist Jesper Bank calling tactics it was the German flagged Niramo which stayed clear of the pack in a complicated, challenging coastal race for the ClubSwan 50s. They lead around the course which was shortened to 14 nautical miles due to the shifting breeze which frustrated some of the tacticians and afterguards. Hendrik Brandis’ Earlybird still holds a comfortable eight points lead at the top of the seven boat Class. Cameron Dunn, tactician on Onegroup which lies third overall, recalled, “It was a bit of a crazy race. It was not really what you would call normal yacht racing. I think we had five 180 degree windshifts. We did a nice first 2.5 miles beat and then up to Illetas which was right under the hills and so it was changing all the time. I think it changed two or three times every leg. But to be fair Niramo managed to lead the whole way around. They did a really nice job getting away. They were just better. We were passed by boats who were a mile behind us sailing through to leeward!” Dunn concludes, “The class is awesome though. The boats seem really even. That is what you want. The racing is even, the boats are cool. I am so happy. The rest of the year looks great though, maybe up to 16 boats at the worlds. It’s going to be great.”
Magic Blue, the Frers designed 94 footer which started out as Magic Carpet, is leading the Wally fleet after today’s two windward-leeward races. A first and a second leaves them just a couple of points up in the Wally 80 J-One. Magic Blue can profit from sailing their own race while the three Wally Centos battle it out together – the new Tango coming top of the Centos at the moment – and the two Wally 80 footers race closely together. Wally’s Luca Bassani, who sails on Magic Blue here, explains, “Today the first race the key was the speed upwind, because the wind increased a lot in the second upwind and we won the race there, the boat was perfectly trimmed. The wind was steady in direction and good in intensity, starting with 12 knots and up to 20 knots. In the second upwind, we gained a lot. The small boats win with less wind, and that was good for us.”
“In the second race it was quite even the first leg. The big boats went to the left and we to the right, and that was a winning tactic. In the first downwind, Tango was first gybing on the left, staying close to the coast, and that was the winning call. They gained some time in the last leg.” He finishes, “This year we have less boats, but it is interesting because we have the three WallyCentos racing between them, and then the 80, and we are in the middle. It is a good test, and we are racing alone, far from J-One. It’s a good test for the ratings.”
In the Swan 45s it remains close but last year’s winners Elena Nova are one point clear. In the ClubSwan 42s Massimo de Campo’s Alifax Selene has extended their lead to seven points.
Wendy Schmidt’s Swan 80 Selene has taken the lead in the IRC fleet. The Grande Soleil 46 Jeffertje II leads ORC 1, the First 40.7 Histolab won in ORC 2, in ORC 3 it is the SunFast 3200 CDT Bond and in ORC 4 Mestral Fast is ahead.
The J/80s raced three windward-leewards and Thomas Bscher leads on his Opera Season after three wins. Michael Clough’s Speedy Gonzalez leads the Flying 15s Dottore Falafel is winning the Dragon fleet.
Saturday, the third day of racing, sees the entire fleet complete at 130 boats from 26 different countries when the Hanse 303s join the action.
(Race report: Andi Robertson)