Fresh race course equals fresh maxi winners at PalmaVela Day twoPalma de Mallorca, May 5, 2023
Conditions on day two of PalmaVela, organised by the Real Club Nautico de Palma, were very similar to day one with a light thermal breeze edging at times above ten knots under a brilliant sun that seemed more July than early May. While conditions were familiar, the opening event of the International Maxi Association’s 2023 Mediterranean Maxi Inshore Challenge took on a different tone with the two maxi classes racing two windward-leeward courses on the eastern side of the Bay of Palma, south of Arenal.
The nine maxi yachts, which kicked off the prestigious Majorcan regatta with a day of racing on their own yesterday, were today joined by ten additional one design, box rule and handicap classes, bringing the Bay alive with yacht racing competition.
In the opening race for the bigger, faster yachts in Maxi A, there was a facsimile of the previous day’s start when David M. Leuschen and Chris Flowers’ Wallycento Galateia won the pin, then permitting them to dominate the race course, winning by 2:47 under IRC corrected time. Again Miguel Galuccio's Nauta 84 Vera was second, on this occasion her time correcting out to a mere four seconds ahead of Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones' Wallycento Magic Carpet Cubed in third.
Galateia’s co-tactician Anthony Kotoun observed of today: “Palma delivered beautiful breeze and great racing with good course management. It is tricky on this track which is a bit one way - if you win the start then you get to pick the racing line all the way around the course. The race can be won or lost in the pre-start.”
For the second race the podium positions were upturned: Galateia pulled the trigger too early, looked set to be over early at the pin and, instead, bailed, starting instead on port tack. This handed the race to Magic Carpet Cubed which was 15 boat lengths ahead at the top mark. Her tactician, Olympic legend Jochen Schümann, commented: “With such a big bend in the breeze, there is always a good fight in the pre-start. We had a very good start in the first race but only at the moment of the start; after we were second. But in the second start we pushed them very hard. It was beautiful sailing conditions.”
Of the relative speed between Magic Carpet Cubed and the marginally newer Galateia, Schümann observed: “The younger sister [Galateia] is a little bit prettier – like in normal life! We need to be perfect to beat them and they have it a little easier to beat us…”
With Galateia managing to salvage a third from this, second went to the Farr-designed Wally 80 Rose, whose owner Sven Wackerhagen and his crew being brought up to speed by Danish tactician Jesper Radich.
“Everything was fine,” said Wackerhagen of their second placed finish. “The start was very good. Conditions were very good. The choice of sails were very important today because the wind was 8-13 knots and we were lucky to have the right combination. And we made almost no errors in our manoeuvres. Our crew is not as professional as the others but they did a very good job today, even compared to the Centos. It is very hard to get better, but tomorrow we must prove we can, but in the shadow of the big boats it is tough.”
While Ermanno Traverso's renowned 1961-built Stormvogel, the ‘original maxi’, didn’t repeat yesterday’s success, today the stand-out competitor among the classics and modern classics racing in Maxi B was the Spirit 72 Anima II of German Dragon sailor Christian Hentschel. Launched in 2021, this is Anima II's first race. Thus they have had a few teething issues such as trying to locate a replacement forestay the day before the start, which they admirably managed.
“It is a scratch crew – the first time we have sailed together. We had a day’s training, but half of the crew was missing,” explained sailmaker and trimmer Peter Bresnan. “As his confidence rises in the crew, the owner allows us to be more creative with what we do and the loads we put on her. He loves this boat, it’s his baby and he is very meticulous and expects everyone else to be too.” On board, the owner was working the bow while his wife was trimming and his daughter helming.
As to their success today, Bresnan explained: “Coastal courses are not our preferred ones because we are a little underpowered downwind and we have a smallish gennaker and a slightly bigger spinnaker, whereas the two boats we are racing against have bigger asymmetrics and the triangle courses suit them better. Broad reaching we are not so competitive.”
Racing continues tomorrow for the full PalmaVela fleet with a first warning signal scheduled for 13:00 with the maxis reverting to coastal courses with similar conditions forecast to today's.
Race report by: James Boyd / International Maxi Association
Full results, race documents and photogallery on the event' website: www.palmavela.com