PalmaVela 2022: Bay of Palma delivers for PalmaVela
After a slow day Friday punctuated by a long wait for the breeze to reappear, the Bay of Palma returned to what might be considered 'normal service' today for the 100 boat field racing the penultimate day of Mallorca's PalmaVela regatta.
For the big boats there were two good races which kept them on schedule to finish with one final race Sunday which would mean the full complement of races will have been sailed. So reliable was the breeze today that even the crews of the ClubSwan 42s and the Dragons, which were brought back on track with three races, were back ashore at the Real Club Náutico de Palma with plenty of time to enjoy the warm afternoon sunshine, appreciate the surroundings and compare notes.
In the IRC-IMA Maxi division the Wally Cento Galateia continued a winning run which ensures they will take top honours at Sunday's prizegiving. Two more wins, both by over two minutes, sees them six points up in the seven boat fleet with one final race to sail Sunday.
For Galateia's Volvo Ocean Race winning British navigator Simon Fisher, who is training to race The Ocean Race on an IMOCA, a return to Mediterranean inshore racing 'outdoors' in the sun- back in the thick of it with a big, well drilled team - rather than hurtling short-handed across an ocean 'inside' a foiling IMOCA, this PalmaVela regatta represents a welcome change of discipline. Today Fisher - who will start his sixth Ocean Race next January - paid tribute to slick crew work and smart tactics as essential components in Galateia's fistful of straight wins:
"It is fantastic to be here, Palma is a great venue and while the breeze is usually reliable it has not been easy, quite interesting to race here early in the season where there is a bit more variability between the sea breeze and the land breezes." Fisher smiled, adding, "It was another good day on the water for us. Everybody on the boat is sailing really well. Our crew manoeuvres are good, our tactics are good, we are starting the boat well and the boat is going fast. The new headsails have made a difference and the guys are always working on improving the boat. And so it is pleasing their work is paying off. The performance all around is good. It is rewarding that we put the work in to get a little bit quicker every year, and here we are."
The breeze settled in more as the daytime temperatures rose, the first race being the more difficult:
" It was a tricky, streaky breeze in the first race...big puffs and lulls and shifts in direction. We got a good start and managed to then control the fleet That first race we did more tacks up the first beat than we have done for a long time and then it was a bit one sided down the run. The second race was more of the same, we had a good start and Jordi (Calafat) and Murray (Jones) put us where we wanted to be, going the right way." The British navigator concluded.
And while Fisher, tactician Murray Jones and Jordi Calafat, strategist, and all the Galateia crew are intimately acquainted with the Bay of Palma and all its early season foibles, for the German crew of the Kiel YC 34ft Italia 9.98 Immac Fram these waters are entirely new.
They multiple German ORC champions who are past class runners up at the ORC Worlds have chosen to forego the delights of northern Germany this season and campaign their boat in the Med, aspiring to win their class at this summer's Copa del Rey MAPFRE. Led by Hamburg yacht broker Kai Mares on the helm, the Immac Fram team are keeping at bay their Palma based German compatriots on the J/99 Meerblick Fun. But with a lead of just a single point, their 11 strong ORC Class 4, will be decided on Sunday. Scott Beattie's island based British flagged J/97 from Andratx Just the Job is third.
"We have good competition with the J/99 and the J/97 just now and that is fine as we build up to Copa del Rey MAPFRE. We are enjoying the competition and, most of all, the weather. Yesterday we enjoyed the coastal race. Today we were too early on the start line and had to go back and so we were fourth but the second race we won." Recalled helm Mares, "We have always wanted to come to the Bay of Palma to race and we will stay here and do the Copa del Rey MAPFRE in the summer. We normally race the German, European and World Championships and will be back in Kiel for the World Championships next year."
Aifos 500 in charge
The well known TP52 Aifos 500 of the Spanish Navy leads ORC Class 0-1 by one point from the Swan 45 Brujo. Aifos 500 had a first and a third for the day, a solid result appreciated as much by the core of older professionals on board as the hard working young navy sailors. Veteran Italian America's Cup sailor Alberto Barovier reports, "The conditions were great with a nice wind. We are still leading by one point. I am happy. We have some young guys from the Spanish Navy school on board and so there is some nice learning going on which is good. They are good young guys and they push very hard, as we all do. And so it is very close at the top and we will finish with a coastal race. So it will be a tricky finish."
Nicolás González Dufour 40 Lady is unbeaten after the three races sailed to date by ORC Class 3 and so leads the division. The ClubSwan 42 one design class will go to the wire as one point separates leader Nadir from rival Pez de Abril after six races and these two boats are already assured of taking the two top spots in the class. A win in the day's final race keeps double silver medallist Natalia Vía-Dufresne and her crew on top of the J/80 class whilst there is a three-way tie in the Dragon class between YeahNah (Torvar Mirsky, AUS), Galant (Jan Strombeck, SWE) and Pow Wow (Michael Zankel GER).