As northern Europe starts to feel the onset of autumn, a late September regatta in the Mediterranean is an easy sell.
Famous for its perfect conditions, spectacular scenery and legendary local hospitality, the Oyster Palma Regatta has always been popular. And with 30 entries representing 16 different nationalities, this year is clearly no different.
Indeed, the continued popularity of the event has meant that the number of classes has grown from three to four evenly matched fleets.
Class 1 is the home of the big boats from Trevor and Judy Hill’s Oyster 725 Intrepid, to Richard Hadida’s 885 Lush. Within this fleet are two teams that stood on the podium last year, overall class winner Pitanga and Starry Night that finished second. But while they may come to the event with form, there is little doubt that they will be pushed hard by the likes of iSNL and Satori.
Class 2 sees a gathering of sixty footers and while Klavs Bruun Kristensen’s recently launched 675 Amphora is the largest, the fleet is tightly packed and also promises some pressure from behind with some close racing among the three 655s and four 625s that make up the rest of the fleet.
When it comes to Class 3 the grouping is even closer with six of the seven entries being 575s, all keen to pit themselves against the new kid on the block, Panthalassa, the first of the brand new Oyster 565.
Aside from representing the fifty footers in the fleet, from the Oyster 49 Yattarna to the 56 Olanta, Class 4 also reflects the international nature of an event with five different nationalities.
The event comprises four days of racing, two days around laid marks in Palma Bay and two passage races out and back to Andratx with each race being between 18-23 miles.
Weather conditions for the opening day look set to provide a gentle start to the event with an 8-10 knot south westerly breeze.
But while a run down the entry list and a look at the forecast may give an indication of what is in store, there is nothing quite like an afternoon dock walk to reveal the broad nature of the event.
From crews packing spinnakers on foredecks, to divers scrubbing waterlines, there was plenty of serious race preparation. But with cocktails and canapés on deck the social side of the week had already started too.
Getting the mix right is one of the special ingredients – it’s what makes this Oyster Regatta a not to miss event.
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