NEWS

04 May 2017

Winter Choices Pay Sail Racing PalmaVela Dividends

Optimisation decisions made and executed during the winter contributed to Day 1 race wins in the Maxi72 Class and the Wally Class but both winning teams made fewer mistakes than their rivals and lead their respective fleets after the first day of Sail Racing PalmaVela.

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In the Maxi72 fleet the gains that Dieter Schön’s Momo team were seeking from their winter changes seem to have been realised, winning both races in today’s 14-16kts Bay of Palma. In the first contest they finished one minute and 40 seconds ahead of 2016 Copa del Rey MAPFRE champions Bella Mente on corrected time. Momo’s winning margin was only 13 seconds less in the second race, holding off Dario Ferrarri’s new Botin designed Pepe Cannonball. On their maiden race outing the Italian flagged crew lost their mid-bowman overboard during their first race and had to finish with no spinnaker, but came away with a third and second to finish their first day’s racing tied with Bella Mente.

Additional righting moment gained through their new keel, new Quantum sails and new crew, all made a winning difference today according to tactician and project manager Markus Wieser.

“ We made a lot of good decisions through the winter. The boat feels better, the sails are better and the whole set up is better now.” Wieser commented, “ It was a typical Palma left side day. First race we were pin end, leeward boat and we stretched. Second race we tacked from the middle of the line and squeezed Bella Mente off and could hold Cannonball off to the left side. Upwind we have a little speed edge, especially in the breeze of today. It is exactly what Bella Mente did to us last year.”

He paid tribute to New Zealand’s five times America’s Cup winner Murray Jones who has helped a lot with the mast programme and the Momo set up.
“ He is great, a great sailor and technically knows what to do. And he helps me making decisions.”

While all the other divisions raced Windward-Leeward courses, the 12 strong Wally class raced a 31 NM coastal race out to the west, passing the Illetas mark to the west of Palma city and then out round to turn off Santa Ponsa. There was some confusion about the start timing and a big wind shift as the race leader, Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones’ Magic Carpet 3, approached the finish line but the blue hulled Wallycento coasted across the line, scarcely denting their comprehensive winning margin of two minutes and 49 seconds ahead of Philippe Ligier’s Ryokan 2. The 2016 circuit champions Open Season suffered a technical problem early in the race and struggled to ninth.

Ian Walker, the Volvo Ocean Race winning tactician on the victorious Magic Carpet 3, pointed to five days of pre-regatta training as one of their main assets today also the changes made to their boat through the winter.

“It was a really good way to start. We sailed very well. We made a lot of good choices and our boat handling was good.” Walker recalled, “ The start was a bit odd because the race committee’s radio did not seem to be working and so no one really knew when the start was. The first 200 metres and the last 200 metres of the race were an absolute shambles. We wanted the pin and the left was strongly favoured, so that gave us a good early jump. And after that it was about good sail selections and minimising the risk.”

He points to their key sail selection as a valuable choice:
“ OpenSeason chose a Code Sail and Galateia and us chose a running sail and the wind was lifting and so that worked for us. That was the right choice and OpenSeason were a long way back. We gybed inshore on the run back to Barasso and gained and we bounced Galateia offshore and stayed inshore and tripled our lead. It was all fine until 300 metres from the finish line when there was a massive left shift and suddenly we could not lay the finish line. We ended up just scraping through with the spinnaker up head to wind.”

“ It is good to start with a win. The boat is a bit lighter so we have lost a bit of rating for that but the boat is faster downwind and so it was nice to go OK in medium conditions, I think we will maybe suffer with that. But also we have done five days training here and so that made the difference too, our crew work has really improved. So far so good!”

It is the chartered Earlybird which has seized the early lead in the new ClubSwan 50 fleet which had their first ever races in European waters today. For their debut as class they were rewarded with three excellent races in what Earlybird’s charterer Pit Finis – a friend of owner Hendrik Brandis – described as ‘champagne sailing conditions’. Earlybird, with Karol Jablonski as tactician won the first two races and placed second in the third race to lead the three boat fleet by three points.

“It was great sailing. The boats are so nice. As a charter owner it is really easy to find the modes. I am surprised to be leading with so many good guys on the other boats as well as on ours.” Finis commented.

Earlybird’s guest tactician Karol Jablonski said “For us on the first day for the class, the boats were great and we had some great races. You make a small mistake and suffer for it. We had good starts and had good pace upwind and did not make many mistakes in the crew work. In the second race we broke the kite and managed to change to the lighter one. You have to get used to the boats for sure. The boats are nice in a straight line but you have to learn the manoeuvres because you are missing some power in the winches. But upwind the boat is easy to drive for the owners, it is very nice. It is all about the crew work and going the right way. You have to work hard as a crew because there is a lot of power in the boat and it is very technical. The helm has to drive accordingly.”

Christian Plump’s Elena Nova made the best start to the defence of the PalmaVela class title which they won one year ago on these waters. They won all three races for the six boat fleet to lead by three points.

In the IRC Class 1 which has three boats competing, it is the Rogers 80 Aegir, which made the perfect start to their regatta with two wins. In the IRC Class 2 the X65 Pelotari Project leads by a single point after their two wins.

Over 100 more boats join the SailRacing PalmaVela regatta on Friday as the ORC fleet, the Classics, AICO J80, Sotheby’s Dragon and Flying 15s start their event.