11 May 2019

As Big As It Gets

As the 16th Sail Racing PalmaVela regatta reaches its full size today, Saturday, all four race areas are utilised. That means nearly 120 boats competing as the Adapted Sailing classes go afloat for the first time. The discard, whereby the worst score in a competitors tally can be dropped, comes into play today for the J/80, Viper, Dragon, Flying Fifteen and the IRC classes.


It is a Coastal Race day for the Vintage/Classics and Spirit of Tradition classes, the rest will do windward-leewards.

The sea breeze is expected in the afternoon, around 1330hrs.  A hot, still start to the day means there will be little to oppose the thermal build and the local forecast suggests it should come in to 20kts. But from the TP52 Provezza Nacho Postigo, the wizard of Palma Bay, a noted weather guru, suggests a conflict will mean light airs:

“In my opinion, we will have a Xaloc sea breeze, but I’m not sure about duration or the intensity. Not clear if we will get NE wind from the shore and will be a fight between both winds in the middle of the racing area or this fight will happen ashore which would be the normal situation. It will depend on the intensity of the NE’ly, if it remains as it is now, we will have a Xaloc and it will last; if the NE gets stronger, it will move the conflict zone between the two winds out on to the race area.” 

In the TP52 Class it is the Plattner family’s Phoenix which leads by a single point ahead of Quantum Racing. Sled will be back racing today after they had to sit out both races due to a medical evacuation. The sailor who was taken ill has undergone tests and will remain under observation for the next couple of days at least.

Don Cowie, project manager and mainsheet trimmer on Sled said this morning “He is not in the best of moods because, as these things go, he feels he let us down which is just not the case. There was some important learning for us all. We will carry a defibrillator on board from now on. We were lucky because our Tony Rae is a Volvo Ocean Race medic, but I would encourage all the other teams to know how they would deal with situations like this. How would you get an injured or ill sailor out of the water, for example?”

The French debutants on Dr Jean-Jacques Chaubard’s Team Vision Future, a mostly amateur crew, struggled on the first day but had a much stronger second day posting a sixth and a fifth.

“That was like winning for us. The first day we picked the wrong side of the course twice and that was it, but we got better starts and were OK for speed. There is so much for us to learn but we feel we have made progress.” Said skipper-helm Mikael Mergui. 

Among the amateur sailors on board one  supplies gravel for a living, one works for a company which supplies clean water technology, the tactician and the navigator both work for the mayor’s office in their home town, the grinder is a farmer, and the spinnaker trimmer runs the logistics for the surgeons at the owner’s eye clinics.