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17th PalmaVela Day 1: Consistency Elusive

by Andi Robertson 29 Oct 2021 11:39 PDT 27-31 October 2021

As the 17th edition of PalmaVela opened with good, gradient breezes of up to 16 knots on the Bay of Palma none of the 80 teams which raced on the windward-leeward courses were able to dominate and keep a clean sheet of first places. With small shifts in wind direction and changes in wind pressure it was difficult to read the breeze - perhaps unlike in high summer when the strong sun makes it easier - and so consistency was quite elusive.

As the high octane TP52 fleet warms up for next week's Rolex TP52 World Championship, not all the teams took to the race course today or there were changed crew line ups to fill in for absentee owner-drivers, but it was the double world champions Platoon - steered by German owner-driver which proved they are on form. The silver hulled Vrölijk design which has local Palma sailor Jordi Calafat as strategist was third on the first race which was won by Bronenosec - with Vasco Vascotto calling tactics - and then the current 52 SUPER SERIES circuit leader won the second race of the day to lead the ten boat fleet but only on countback. Platoon, Quantum Racing - which is being steered by Terry Hutchinson - and Bronenosec are all tied on four points after today's two races.

"It was good racing today in a nice breeze which was shifting around a little bit which made it quite an open course with a gradual build through the day and the weather was not too hot." Commented Jules Salter, Platoon's British navigator, "The breeze was hard to read so we were catching up a bit and we made some nice gains downwind. Our objective over the regatta is not to break anything and to just keep refining and refining all the little things as they all add up to something big."

The Argentine Olympic bronze medalist Lucas Calabrese is moved from strategist to tactician on Quantum Racing for PalmaVela over this weekend before owner-driver Doug DeVos arrives Monday. He reported "It was good day for us all things considered. The wind was tricky but we mostly went the right way. Maybe we gave up a few points here and there in boat on boat stuff but hopefully we get better on that. Terry is steering and I am in the hot seat but it is nice to be learning, I get a lot from Terry and Michele is a tactician himself so I am learning the times of the manoeuvres and what you can and can't do on the boat. The breeze was not the typical wrap around we normally get here, it was a gradient, oscillating a bit with more pressure to the left of the course, so just managing the pressure and the shift."

And the regatta marks the return to the class of the Argentine four times Olympic medalist Santiago Lange who won the 52 SUPER SERIES in 2019 on Azzurra before he had to devote himself to his Tokyo Olympic programme. Lange is sailing on Provezza. "It is amazing how different the boat is (to Azzurra which he sailed before), everything is different, the layout is different, the cockpit is different, the sails are different but in the end the boats go at the same speed. So, yes, it maybe time but it is great to be back in the fleet."

On the ORC Class 0 race course it is the vintage TP52 Aifos 500 which leads the class after a first and third today, but all three boats in this division have the same points aggregate. So too in ORC Class 1 there are two of the three Club Swan 42s racing tied on points, winners of the second race Pedro Vaquer's Nadir leading but on tie break. Nicolas Gonzalez's Dufour 40 from Barcelona won the only race for ORC 3.

Racing for the Spanish Cup, Javier Scherk's Gunter leads the Dragon class after winning one race and twice finishing second and so holding a two points lead over Jorge Forteza's Mr Nova. In the J/80s Dr Chacertegui leads with two wins and a second today, while Patrick Harris is on top of the Flying 15 class.

In the Vintage fleet which raced an 18 nautical miles coastal race it was Doctor Tim Liesnehoff's 1898 Charles Livingstone designed 50 foot gaff cutter Marigan (formerly Molita) which prevailed in the three boat division. The boat which was brought to Mallorca from Scotland in 2007 is regularly successful on the Balearic classics circuit.

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