With 30 entries representing 16 different nationalities, the 2019 Oyster Regatta in Palma was fully subscribed once again. As in previous editions the four day format consisted of two days racing around marks in Palma Bay at the beginning and end of the event. The middle two days saw an out and return pair of passage races to the pretty port of Andratx on the west coast Majorca during the middle of the week.
This year’s fleet consisted of another broad mix of boats in the fleet from the two Oyster 885s, Guardian Angel and Lush, through to the smallest boat in the fleet, Yattarna, an Oyster 49.
The wide range of models meant that this year the fleet was divided into four classes rather than the three of previous years, which made for some very close and engaging racing throughout. The best example of the tight competition was clear to see on the final day in Class 3.
Of the seven boats in this class, all bar one were Oyster 575s with the outsider being the all-new 565. Only recently launched and marking a new step forward for the company there was plenty attention focussed on this boat and how she might compete against the others in her class.
Going into the final race it was Louis Goor’s Oyster 575 Irene III that held the overall lead, but only by 0.25 of a point with a total of 5.75 points. Behind her, the next three boats that included Janus, Lisanne and the 565 Panthalassa were all on 6.00 points. And even behind them the gap was only a further 0.75 points for Pacifica and Mastegot.
The results sheet alone made it clear that in this fleet the racing would go all the way down to the wire.
In Class 2 eyes were focussed on the needle match between the 655 Blow and the 675 Amphora. Throughout the week Amphora had proved to be as potent in the light as she was in stronger conditions and yet it was Henrik Jansen’s Blow that had won both of the passage races in this class.
Meanwhile, Class 4 may have had the smallest and most mature boats in the fleet, but the racing was just as close, particularly between the leading pair of 56s, Olanta and Sionna. The difference in crew experience between these two boats was also of interest. Vasily Senatorov is a Dragon sailor and his team aboard Olanta included several accomplished racing sailors.
Meanwhile Mike Kearney’s crew of family and friends only race at the Oyster regatta once a year and had no significant previous racing experience. This was only their third event. So, conscious of his team’s lack of racing experience Kearney had included two race hardened crew who had been with him in the previous regattas to help them get up to speed. The formula had clearly worked.
But while the quality of racing is clearly one of the key ingredients to the success of the Oyster Palma Regatta, it is the mix of good racing and relaxed social events that has delivered the continued success of this event.
Throughout the week relaxed and varied social gatherings from dock parties, to dinners and even a movie evening, all were consistently well supported. Further solid evidence as to the strength of support that there is throughout the fleet comes with not just how long crews spend socialising around the boats every evening, but how many spent the entire day racing and partying in fancy dress on the passage race to Andratx. From a team dressed as superheroes, to pirates, leprechauns, Vikings and many more, there are few regattas of this level in the world that can carry fancy dress off in the heart of an international regatta.
There were also three boats that came to the event with a different set of credentials, a circumnavigation in the 2017/19 Oyster World Rally. Few regattas have such a broad mix of entries and yet manage to maintain such an evenly matched and universally appealing event.
So, while results may be the most visible aspect of the regatta, the ongoing success of the Oyster Palma Regatta comes down to a sophisticated mix.
But when it did come to the silverware, Guardian Angel took the overall win in Class 1 while Henrik Jansen’s Blow took the top trophy in Class 2.
The needle match in Class 3 was hotly contested on the final day’s racing and saw Eric and Ann Alfredson’s Lisanne push Irene III off the top spot.
In Class 4 Sionna took the win on the final race to put them on equal points with Olanata. When it came to the tie break both had two firsts, both had two seconds and the pair were only separated on the difference between their last remaining results, a fifth and a third delivering the final overall victory to Olanata.
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