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Palma Superyacht Cup - Avoiding wind hole key to victory

by The Superyacht Cup on 21 Jun 2014
Anticipating a wind hole at the Illetas off Bendinat and taking avoiding action was the key to today’s victory, the first yet for the ferociously green hulled Briand designed InouÏ, on the MAG5 coastal race at the Palma Superyacht Cup.

It was a much more traditional, easy to read sea breeze day than it was yesterday where a different breeze on the west of the race course fell away and shifted the further east the fleet sailed. Today’s upwinds fell much more in line with conventional logic and the key to success seemed to be a smooth passage through the one noticeable park up. For InouÏ, with Chris Main calling tactics that was the biggest headache around a track which he considered was otherwise quite straightforward.

InouÏ, the new 33m Briand design won by 54 seconds on corrected time ahead of Saudade with yesterday’s winner Ganesha in third.

I don’t think it was what we did right today, it was more about what we did not do wrong. Said Main, 'We were dealt a pretty good set of cards today because of the timing. When we came into Illetas there was a park up and we just managed to come down with pressure and had a gap to tack out and so we were not in that hole very long. That really was probably it.

It was reasonably straightforward, a more typically Palma day than yesterday so the left paid up the first beat. It was all pretty self explanatory. And it was really only that little hole at the bottom which was unusual for Palma. It was certainly hard to keep 40 metres from other boats! We just got through the gap well.

Our boat just needs a little bit of breeze to get going, it is good. And it looks good. It is lovely for the owner to get a first here, he was very instrumental in the design of the boat and he will be very proud today.'

InouÏ lies second overall two points behind behind Ganesha.

Biggest margin of the day was that of Unfurled in Class 2, winning by over 16 minutes on corrected time. The 34 metres Frers design leads her class after two races and has Ross and Campbell Field on board, and they too made light work of the sticky going around the Illetas mark:

'It was good for us 'Ross Field commented' The sea breeze was in and our tactician got us around the hole at the bottom mark and we were away. That was that. Then it was a procession after that. We did sail well this is a team which has been together for a long, long time. Most have been together for 10 years and we like a bit of breeze. Over 15kts we are home and hosed. It was a great day.'

In Class 3 Maria Cattiva prevailed, reversing Heartbeat’s winning margin of Wednesday.

'It was a good day, we had some tough moments at that leeward mark. I think everyone had their fair share of good luck and bad luck today. We could have been better on board. But it was a fabulous day. The very best gybe we did was Bingo! on the finish line. Heartbeat’s Nicolai Gelissen said.

That winning or losing in the J Class at the Palma Superyacht Cup is down to mere seconds was illustrated again today when Hanuman triumphed in the MAG5, 21 miles coastal race by only 12 seconds ahead of Ranger. In brilliant sea breeze conditions on the Bay of Palma which were punctuated by one lighter, shiftier period adding an extra dimension, Hanuman only just got the better of a very tenacious Ranger team who really only made one small error.

After a dead heat on corrected time required them to share the top trophy from Wednesday’s opening race, then missing the podium yesterday by three seconds Kenny Read, Hanuman’s skipper-helm declared:

'It does not get any better racing-wise than this. It is as good as it gets, high quality, high powered racing.'


'Yesterday was a little disappointing and to be honest the helmsman – that is me – got a lousy start and from that point we were trying to dig ourselves out of that hole. I have no other person to blame for yesterday other than myself. Today it was goal to make amends for that.'

'Even yesterday we lost third by two seconds. If you think about this the first race we were tied for first, second race we lost third by two seconds and then today we won by 12 seconds. It is amazing.'

Around a course which took the fleet east across the bay for a windward leeward it proved to be a compelling duel between Ranger and Hanuman. The newer boat had the legs upwind, not least due to a new headsail – Read revealed – but there was an element of sheer dogged determination in the Ranger demeanour.

Denied a win on Wednesday they chased Hanuman around the first mark in the 13-16kts brisk sea-breeze, after another trademark pin end start. As the leaders closed to the shore on the end of the first long downwind the breeze died and headed them. Hanuman lead back out but as the duo arrived back upwind into the old, established breeze Ranger took the shift better and were able to roll ahead of Hanuman again.

It was on the last beat when they tacked for layline that Ranger just slightly overstood, losing out to Hanuman, as Ranger skipper Erle Williams acknowledged ruefully:

'We should have tacked with them on the last beat. We ended up going over the layline. We hesitated, got into three or four big waves when I could not really tack and we would have come out slow so we hesitated and that cost us quite a bit, it cost us the lead.'

The winning delta on corrected time was just 12 seconds after 21 miles or about two hours and 40 minutes of racing.

'We had a good start and we have legs upwind.' Read confirmed, ' We have a brand new genoa on the boat, we really felt we were off the pace in that 13 - 16kts range in Mahon and Jim pulled the trigger on that new sail and it was right in that sweet spot today. Not only did it get us a little bit of a lead at that first mark but we actually missed one bog shift half way through the race, lost Ranger and this helped us get it back again. It was great upwind. Ranger has always been quick downwind. We have a hair of an edge upwind and they have an edge downwind. Ranger have had great starts this week, all credit to Erle. His whole afterguard have really started the boat well and it shows in the results.'

But with each race seemingly now going down to mere seconds, does Read feel the mercury rising, the pressure increasing?

'You are sailing in a beautiful place, in these amazing boats it does not get any better than this. We feel as sailors and as people very, very fortunate to be doing this. Period.'

And while Ranger is clearly sailing to within seconds of their first win in this full scale fleet, Erle Williams agrees there is an element of frustration:

'It is always frustrating. We have been up the front of the fleet, won the race and got protested out and then yesterday we were right amongst it. And then today we were right there again. So, at least we are at the right end of the fleet. That is good for us, we are the big steel boat and struggle at times with being heavy. But she is going through the water quite well today.'

Meanwhile with a fifth again today Velsheda’s crew are dealing with their own gremlins and playing catch up after a big winter refit. Tactician Tom Dodson says they regret missing out on Mahon’s first regatta of the season.

'We are still ironing things out a bit. We have improved the boat and if we had not done that we would be doing worse for sure, but there are a few gremlins to be sorted. It is small bits adding up to big bits at the moment. The GPS was down at the start. Out start was pretty good but we were probably half a knot down on the guys around about us and once upon a time we could have lived with that but now you can’t. There is gremlins stuff and tuning stuff. The boat feels different and so the sail calls are a bit different. I think we missed not doing that regatta in Mahon. We have gone through our years with this boat turning up green and being able to be OK. But now if you do that it you are not OK. We were doing the old eyeball start today. We are getting decent starts but we need to be able to hold the lane and we can’t right now.'

Lionheart finished third – their unbeaten this season record falling today - Rainbow fourth and Velsheda Racing concludes Saturday with one final coastal race.

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