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Vaikobi 2024 LEADERBOARD

Galateia and V go to the wire at 20th PalmaVela

by James Boyd / International Maxi Association 5 May 13:58 PDT 1-5 May 2024
David M Leuschen and Chris Flowers' Wallycento Galateia, en route to her third PalmaVela victory © Nico Martinez / PalmaVela2024

The maxis competing over the last four days in inshore and coastal racing at the Real Club Nautico de Palma's PalmaVela may have been a diverse five, ranging from the 143ft/43.6m J Class Svea to the Wally 80 Rose, but their competition was the closest it has ever been here. This was befitting for the 20th anniversary of the event that was originally created by the RCNP as the Mediterranean season opener for the maxi class. It also provided a strong start to the International Maxi Association's five event 2024 Mediterranean Maxi Inshore Challenge.

Having won the last two editions of the PalmaVela and last year winning every race but one, Chris Flowers and David M Leuschen's Wallycento Galateia was favourite, lining up to make it a hat-trick. But the going was hard for the white-hulled 100 footer. At the end of the second day they were tied with their fellow Wallycento, V, while winning Saturday's coastal race left them with a slender one point advantage. In today's coastal race, it was V's turn, taking her second win of the regatta leaving the two maxi giants to end the event level on points. Ultimately with her three bullets to V's two, Galateia prevailed on countback to claim the Maxi class for a third consecutive year.

"Our third time winning PalmaVela - this is becoming one of our favourites!" commented David M Leuschen, who helmed Galateia this week. "I didn't get the practice day in because it was too windy, so the first day was my first day in the boat for seven or eight months. It was blowing in the low 20s and was quite sporty, but I enjoyed it very much."

Both Wallycentos have been turboed over the winter. Galateia now has two tonnes of water ballast that has allowed her to shed lead from her keel. She also has upgraded her spinnaker retrieval system so her kite drops are now lightning fast, in line with her competition. Meanwhile V has also become water ballasted and has been fitted with a lightweight tubular pivoting boom and a rope vang arrangement.

Galateia tactician Kelvin Harrap acknowledged that the field has closed up but that it was early days. He is looking forward to the enlarged fleet of 100 footers set to line up in Sorrento at the IMA Maxi European Championship in two weeks before Galateia's extensive winter upgrades can be fully assessed. "They [V] are going better with all the changes they've made. With us - it is early stages. There are some times when we were better, but we just have to learn about the water ballast and when to use it.

"The first day was full on and everyone was very nervous because the boat has had so many changes. V and us - we traded first and second places in a lot of races. In Sorrento there will be no margin for error."

Harrap's counterpart on V, North Sails President Ken Read was also very pleased with their winter upgrades. "It is always nice to win, but in many ways we are all here to practice and prepare for the rest of the season. We were late, but the 'laundry list' [ie the modifications] is done and we can see results, which is all we can hope for. She sails like a different boat now but we needed that because we were seven years behind in our updates, which we had to do in one winter."

According to Read all the Wallycentos (Magic Carpet Cubed included) are now racing in a lightened mode with water ballast, the difference being "where you want the stability." V has also changed to elliptical rigging and a longer bowsprit in addition to her three tonnes of water ballast. "There is no disadvantage of using it now from a manoeuvring standpoint. It is as fast as a canting keel."

With the wind slightly left of due south today, V won by claiming the pin at the start and then the left. "It was stunning - Palma at its best," enthused Read.

Over the course of the four days, three of the five maxis won races under IRC corrected time. The Farr 100 Leopard 3 podiumed in both races on the opening day but perhaps most remarkable was the mighty Svea which won Friday's first windward-leeward.

Svea tactician Bouwe Bekking commented: "It was really good for us, even though it was apples and pears - they [the other maxis] are 150 tonnes lighter than us, but we can still race against them. And it is good practice." The race they won was in 18 knots of breeze and the eminent round the world race veteran reckoned their winning tactics had been gybe-setting at the top mark.

Even Sven Wackerhagen's Rose came close to winning a race. Their Wally 80 (ex-Tango) scored a 4-2 on the second day of windward-leewards and in the latter finished just six seconds astern of V under IRC corrected time.

"We are getting to know the boat now - you can see where we need to improve," commented Rose's Danish tactician Jesper Radich. "Rose is good for her rating on windward-leewards but not so good reaching. Our owner is a good driver - he has been sailing all his life, but we are not at the level of the others in terms of our total package."

At the prize-giving at the RCNP, Galateia's David M Leuschen was presented with the prize for the top IMA member.

Competition in the IMA's Mediterranean Maxi Inshore Challenge continues over 20-23 May in Sorrento with the IMA Maxi European Championship.

The 2024 IMA Mediterranean Maxi Inshore Challenge:

1) 1-5 May - Palmavela, Palma, Majorca 2) 20-23 May - IMA Maxi European Championship, Sorrento, Italy
3) 8-11 June - Loro Piana Giralgia (inshores), Saint-Tropez, France
4) 8-14 September - Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, Porto Cervo, Sardinia
5) 30 September-5 October - Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez, Saint-Tropez, France

See the PalmaVela website.

For more on the International Maxi Association visit www.internationalmaxiassociation.com.

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