On day three Palmavela maxis endure tricky conditionsPalma de Mallorca, May 6, 2023
Today the maxi fleets were back to racing coastal courses on the penultimate day of the Real Club Nautico de Palma s Palmavela, the opening event of the International Maxi Association’s 2023 Mediterranean Maxi Inshore Challenge. While conditions have been glorious for the first half of the regatta, today was hotter, the sky more overcast causing the sea breeze on the Bay of Palma to establish less firmly than was forecast.
After an hour’s delay, a wait that allowed British crew to watch scraps of footage from the coronation of King Charles III, the maxi fleets were sent off, the faster giants in Maxi A sailing a 25 mile course round the cans to the southeast and Maxi B on a similar but shorter 20 mile course.
In the usual battle to win the pin on what is usually a left-favoured course, it was on this occasion Andrés Varela Entercanales Vismara-Mills 68 Pelotari.Project that achieved this, with the towering form of David M. Leuschen and Chris Flowers’ Wallycento Galateia thundering past them to weather; Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones’ Magic Carpet Cubed further up the line.
While the two Wallycentos are fairly evenly matched there were more opportunities on the race course today as Spanish Ocean Race skipper Pablo Arrarte, part of Galateia’s afterguard this week, observed: “The wind was very east and it took a long time to turn to the right, which it was supposed to do earlier. At the start it was 145-160°, the forecast wind direction, where we thought it would stay, but then it shut down again and went left again.” This was caused by the land and sea breezes fighting.
“When we got closer to the coast it was super light and they [Magic Carpet Cubed] struggled a bit more to round that mark,” continued Arrarte. “We put on some more distance on them there, but it still wasn’t easy because the sea and land breezes were still fighting.” Galateia scored her third bullet from four races leaving her with a four point lead going into tomorrow’s final coastal race.
A third majestic 100 footer has been on the race course this week: Francesco de Santis' Southern Wind 100 Morgana. However with a new racing crew led by Claudio Novi and a displacement some 30% heavier than the two Wallycentos, she is on the back foot.
“Morgana is a beautiful boat, we have a good crew but we are still learning the boat,” admits Flavio Favini, who called the shots on last year’s IMA Mediterranean Maxi Inshore Champion, Capricorno and is this week standing in for regular tactician, Brazilian Olympic legend Torben Grael. “This is a big boat and we need to learn to sail it better.”
Aside from Galateia, today’s stand-out boat in Maxi A was Pelotari.Project. Not only did she secure one of the best starts, but following the old adage of it being ‘better to be lucky than good’ benefitted from the massive left shift. She, the second lowest rated in Maxi A to Sven Wackerhagen's Wally 80 Rose, was able to layout the mark closest to the shore as on this part of the course the leaders had had to tack.
In fact the crew on the Pollensa-based Pelotari.Project are also good, assisted by one of Spain’s most gifted sailors, double Olympic gold medallist Luis Doreste calling tactics. “We had a chance to go for the pin and we fought for it and got the left,” Doreste explained. “We got a good first cross but the important thing was after the Regana mark – we saw pressure coming from the left. When the boats ahead passed it, they were in a right shift and when we passed it was more or less 90° left and we could lay the next mark. We made some good manoeuvres too and we hoped to be first but in the end we were second.”
In Maxi B, the overall results going into the final day are closer with Ermanno Traverso's venerable maxi ketch Stormvogel just a point clear of yesterday’s double windward-leeward winner Christian Henschel's Spirit Yachts 72 Anima II. The yacht that was the early 1960s state of the art and perhaps the ‘first maxi’ was back on form, albeit winning today’s race under IRC corrected time by a mere 19 seconds from Guillaume de Montalier's Truly Classic 90 Atalante.
“Today was more ‘normal’ – unlikely yesterday…” said Stormvogel’s captain Ian Hullerman. “Today we were back on track and concentrating and did what we are used to do. We drove the boat where the boat should be and the way it should be driven.
“The boats in our class are close so there were no shifts which gave us much of an advantage. We perhaps had a little more wind at certain stages when we got closer to them, but then they recovered. At one point we were ahead of both of them. As usual the boat flies downwind when we were going perhaps a knot faster than them.” Not bad for a 62-year-old yacht.
Tomorrow will be the final day of racing at Palmavela for the maxis, along the regatta’s many other smaller one design, box rule and handicap classes all competing on the Bay of Palma. The big uncertainty remains the conditions where once again sea and land breezes may again be fighting come the 1300 start time.
Race report by James Boyd / International Maxi Association
Event' website: www.palmavela.com