Gaastra PalmaVela - Impressive performance for Bella Mente
by Kirsten Ferguson on 10 May 2013
GAASTRA PalmaVela was held in Spain during 2nd to 5th May 2013. Bella Mente, sailing under the New York Yacht Club burgee, turned in an impressive performance in Mallorca last weekend, winning the Mini Maxi Class, the first major event of its European circuit. The sailing team of 22, led by owner/driver Hap Fauth (Minneapolis, Minn./Naples, Fla.) aboard the 72’ Judel/Vrolijk designed Bella Mente, held the lead for three out of four days of racing and finished the event one and a half points ahead of Sir Peter Odgen’s Jethou.
Gaastra PalmaVela 2013 © Jesus Renedo http://www.sailingstock.com
'This was a very challenging regatta in terms of competition and conditions,' said Fauth, adding that it was the first event this year where his team competed against a large number of boats that fit the Mini Maxi criteria. 'Going into this event we were expecting to be competitive, and we were. With a new mast and standing rigging and some new sails, we were very pleased with our progress and boat speed. However, it didn’t allow for us to dominate, since every other boat we raced against was also in top form.'
On Thursday and Friday (May 2-3) of the event, Bella Mente Racing competed in three windward-leeward races, two of which the team won. Conditions on both days were challenging, with the wind shifting 40 degrees in some cases, causing organizers to cancel the final race on Friday. On Saturday and Sunday (May 4-5), the event transitioned to longer coastal races, taking competitors on two 28-mile courses over the span of the weekend. On Saturday, Bella Mente experienced the most difficulty when a northeasterly breeze that was building in the beginning of the day shifted to the southwest one mile into the first beat. Bella Mente wound up finishing sixth, slipping down to second place overall, but quickly regained its lead on Sunday by taking second place in the second coastal race and winning the Mini Maxi Class overall.
The team still has much competition ahead of it, with four world-class events scheduled to round out its European tour: the Giraglia Rolex Cup, Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week, Rolex Fastnet Race and Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship (part of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup).
'The racing will be different at each venue moving forward and will force us to reconfigure the boat and crew work for each regatta,' said Fauth, 'but we are very excited to keep racing against a large contingent of Mini Maxis. This year is definitely getting much better.'
Fauth referred to the team’s recent performances in the U.S. and the Caribbean as 'not our best' but added that the regattas there served to help them get to know the boat better and 'work out all the kinks.'
'The most important part of this campaign is team consistency, and it is something that we are constantly trying to improve upon,' said Fauth. 'We win together, we lose together and we learn together. We are only as strong as our weakest team member.'