More than 100 boats from 23 countries took part in Gaastra PalmaVela, the opening regatta of the Mediterranean season for a variety of classes. Flying Fifteens from Spain, Great Britain and Ireland took part in the regatta which consisted of three days racing on the Bay of Palma from 1 - 4 May, organized by the Real Club Nautico de Palma.
The Flying Fifteen fleet in the Balearic Islands includes a number of British and Irish expats enjoying the balmy Mediterranean climate and superb sailing conditions the islands have to offer.
The regatta also provided a good opportunity to brush off the rust and get some valuable training time on the water in advance of the European Championship which will be hosted by RCNPP Port de Pollensa on the north-east corner of the island of Mallorca in September this year.
The Flying Fifteen fleet enjoyed some very close tactical racing in a range of conditions with many of the races decided on the finish line with a photo finish. The opening day on Friday delivered some unseasonal cloud and a strong offshore breeze which delayed the start of racing until late in afternoon. The Fifteens sailed predominantly windward/leeward courses often with a long fetch from windward mark to spreader providing a sprint reach in the fresher conditions.
The local based GBR flagged Gecko skippered by class stalwart Michael Cough with his experienced long time FF crew Alan Green (IRL) claimed the opening day with two bullets and a second however the Anglo/Irish pair had to fight for the wins. Two races had to be abandoned due to large wind shifts and in the second race Gecko tangled with Irish crew Ken Dumpleton and Simon Murray at the top mark resulting in some turns of shame for Gecko. She recovered to win the race with the Irish boat Olive Oyl taking third. The final race of the first day was a start to finish win for local Cala Gamba sailor David Barber sailing Fine Fettle with his daughter Hannah.
Due to the shifting breeze and a shared course with J80’s and Dragons it was a long day on the water with the fleet coming ashore at 1900 hrs local time just in time for the free! Drinks and snacks offered by the RCNP on the club terrace.
A slightly hung over fleet re-assembled for day two on Saturday with a more normal sunny warm day but still with a battle between the local thermal winds and the regular sea breeze which usually fills in after lunchtime.
Three more races were held, the first two in light and shifty breeze but again with very close racing and bunched fleets. British boat Puff skippered by Stephen Hart sailed a blinder to take the bullet in the first race of the day but overall leader Gecko, (Clough/Green} sailed a shocker coming in ninth putting the pressure back on them with only one regatta discard allowed. Some blamed the quantity of free Plymouth gin and tonics drunk in the club bar the night before but the Anglo/Irish pair re-grouped to take out the next race of the day in 8-10 knots.
Another expat crew David Miles and Chris Doorly sailing a local ESP flagged boat Stormtrooper 3 enjoyed a great scrap with the Barber’s sailing Fine Fettle and local Cala Gamba fifteen Flying High, sailed by last year’s PalmaVela winners Vincent and Patrick Harris. Stormtrooper grabbed second in a close finish but the Irish entry Olive Oyl sailed by Ken Dumpleton and Simon Murray were chipping away with regular podium finishes of their own.
Olive Oyl’s consistency paid in the final race of the day which was sailed in a fresher moderate offshore breeze and a short chop. The fetch in this race was an exciting planing dash with a tough choice of whether to raise a spinnaker or wait before the turn downwind. The Irish crew went on to record their first win of the regatta and leave them five points behind Gecko with one more day to go.
Sunday delivered a typical Mallorcan Spring day with air temperatures close to 20c and a slightly more stable but cool SW onshore breeze. The overall regatta was Gecko’s to lose, Michael Clough and Alan Green needed three more conservative results to take the Gaastra PalmaVela title. However the consistent Irish crew of Ken Dumpleton and Simon Murray continued to finish in the top three to keep the pressure on.
Despite more very close and compact fleet racing Gecko managed to hold off the chasing pack to finish the day with a 2,1,3 to win the regatta by five points. Olive Oyl finished with a 1,3,2 to seal second overall.
The battle for third remained a three way tussle between David and Hannah Barber’s Fine Fettle, the Harris brothers sailing Flying High and Stormtroooper sailed by David Miles and Chris Doorly. The result had to be decided on the last run of the day, but the Barbers had done all they could winning the final race of the regatta to clinch third overall by one point.
The Balearic Flying Fifteen fleet now have a number of regattas around the island of Mallorca over the summer months with a view to preparing for the European Championship in September in Pollensa, details of which can be obtained from the website.
Overall Results (top five after nine races, one discard)
1 GBR 3817 Gecko Michael Clough/Alan Green: 1,1,2,(9),1,3,2,1,3 - 14pts 2 IRL 3753 Olive Oyl Ken Dumpleton/Simon Murray: 3,3,(5),2,4,1,1,3,2 - 19pts 3 ESP 3728 Fine Fettle David Barber/Hannah Barber: 4,6,1,(7),3,5,5,2,1 - 27pts 4 ESP3592 Flying High Vincent Harris/Patrick Harris: 2,4,3,3,(6),2,6,4,4 - 28pts 5 ESP 3610 Stormtrooper 3 David Miles/Chris Doorly: 5,2,(6),4,2,4,3,5,6 - 31pts
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