Palma 2019 Race Day 1 Image 1 v2

By the time crews had scrubbed up and headed for the evening’s chic reception at the Palau March after the first day’s racing, most were admitting that they were itching for a shade more breeze for the opening day of the Oyster Regatta in Palma. At the very least, a solid sea breeze is where these long legged, blue water cruisers excel as they eat up the miles in comfort and at speed. But a solid breeze in the teens was not what was on offer, at least not today.

Clearly, when it comes to the weather as the saying goes, it is what it is and when the day’s forecast includes wind speeds in single figures it’s easy to skip past the detail. Sub 10 knot breezes often mean shifty conditions making it difficult for crews to plan with any confidence.  Yet those that took note of the detail in the forecast at the skipper’s daily morning briefing had seen a trend for a steady right hand shift in the breeze. And those that put theory into practice afloat were rewarded with an early advantage when conditions on the racecourse in Palma Bay performed to the brief.

The amply proportioned sausage/triangle configuration course that kicked off with a five-mile beat helped in this regard too, providing a large race area across which the weather could play out to the script. 

Palma 2019 Race Day 1 Image 2 v5

First off for the opening day’s racing was Class 2 comprising eight sixty footers. Leading the charge in this fleet was the recently launched 675 ‘Amphora’ that surged off the front of the pack on the first beat. 

Hot on their heels in Class 1 having stared 10 minutes behind, were  the two 885s, ‘Lush’ and ‘Guardian Angel’ that duly worked the right hand side of the course as the forecast had suggested, to set the pace among the big guns as they started to haul in the bulk of Class 2. 

Keeping momentum in the light breeze was the key for all, fortunately the sea state was flat helping everyone to maintain their delicate pace upwind. 

First around the top mark was ‘Guardian Angel’ whose team had not only kept their pace throughout, but had tacked bang on the lay line, cutting the corner on those who had been forced to over stand the mark when the breeze swung even further right. But even for ‘Guardian Angel’, the upwind leg had been a long grind that required patience. From the start, to the top of the course had taken just over an hour and a quarter. 

Next around was ‘Amphora’ in Class 2 delivering an opening performance that had shown just how slippery the latest generation of Oyster really is. More evidence was to come on the downwind leg as she sailed faster and deeper than the rest of her fleet.

Third around was ‘Lush’ who, pulled off the first of two gybe sets in a bid to outperform the two front runners by hooking into to the slightly stronger breeze on this side of the course. Behind them was the 82 ‘Starry Night’, a boat that has competed in every Oyster Palma regatta to date.

Palma 2019 Race Day 1 Image 6 v5

As the downwind leg played out it became even clearer by the minute that this race would require a stealth like approach to every manoeuvre. And as the breeze started to increase by a couple of knots, so the fleet began to light up and a pecking order based on size start to appear.

On the water, ‘Guardian Angel’, the more potent and powerful of the two 885’s stretched her lead in Class 1, as did ‘Amphora’ in Class 2 as the two fleets reached around the triangular sections of the course. 

Come the end of the final downwind leg to the finish, both boats’ leads were sufficient to deliver line honours and overall wins. 

In Class 1, ‘Starry Night’ crossed the line third but took second overall on corrected time, while the 625 ‘Kalia’ took the bridesmaid’s spot in Class 2.

In Class 3 it was clear that with six of the seven boats in the fleet being 575s, there would be a close battle from the off. This was surely as close to a one design fleet as it was possible to get. Yet even so, the big unknown was the new kid on the block, the latest model to be launched in the Oyster range, the brand new 565 Panthalassa. No one knew how she would perform but plenty wanted to know.

Based on her on the water performance at least, this boat is a rocket ship and another example of the potent performance of the new generation of Oysters. But on handicap, life was not so straightforward and she had to settle for fourth overall behind ‘Pacific’ that took the class win and ‘Janus’ who slipped up the pecking order into second after ‘Lisanne’ was forced to drop a place after jumping the gun at the start.

Palma 2019 Race Day 1 Image 4 v3

Meanwhile, in Class 4 the crew of the Oyster 56 ‘Olanta’ continued their race winning ways of last year by scoring a clear victory in today’s opening race, beating second placed ‘Ostra’ by more than six minutes on corrected time.

It had been a tricky day of light winds that required a softly, softly approach and while most would have preferred a few more knots of breeze to spark up performances, there is nothing like finishing, whatever the conditions, to provide a good source of conversation at the social. And there was no shortage of that.

Day 2 sees a change of gear on the racecourse as the fleet heads on a passage race to Andratx.

GALLERY

CLASS 1
ENTRY MODEL POSITION
GUARDIAN ANGEL 885 1
STARRY NIGHT 82 2
LUSH 885 3
INTREPID 725 4
SATORI 745 5
PITANGA 745 6
ISNL 825 7
BARE NECESSITIES 82 8
CLASS 2
ENTRY MODEL POSITION
AMPHORA 675 1
KALIA 625 2
DELICIA 625 3
BLOW 655 4
RUTH II 625 5
METEORITE 655 6
TIGER 625 7
ROCK OYSTER 655 8
CLASS 3
ENTRY MODEL POSITION
PACIFICA 575 1
JANUS 575 2
LISANNE 575 2
PANTHALASSA 565 3
IRENE III 575 4
MASTEGOT 575 5
MISS TIGGY 575 6
CLASS 4
ENTRY MODEL POSITION
OLANTA 56 1
OSTRA 53 2
YATTARNA 49 3
MOY TOAD 53 4
SIONNA 56 5
SABA OF HAMBLE 53 6

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