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Flying Fifteen Balearic Championships at Real Club Nautic Port de Pollenca

by Stephen Babbage on 13 Jul
Flying Fifteen Balearic Championships 2017 © Stephen Babbage

The Flying Fifteen Balearic Championship was held over three days in Pollensa Bay in the north-east corner of the Mediterranean Island of Mallorca. Courses had been defined to include triangles as well as up and down, which would make for long races, with a maximum of two each day.

The first race was started in a good breeze, sailing out towards the island of Menorca. The wind was swinging more than normal making it difficult to pick the best side. In the event Scott Walker and Andrew Harvey sailing (Ffiel Good) and Michael Clough and Susann Spreda (Speedy Gonzales) came out on top, with John Walker and Stephen Babbage (fuego fatuo) close behind. Positions changed all the way down the second run, and after the tussles, Ffiel Good took the win, with fuego fatuo a foredeck ahead of Speedy Gonzales.

In the second race, a wind shift to the left made it almost possible to lay the first mark on port tack. fuego fatuo started well, with Spanish Fly well up. Coming to the windward mark, the persistent shifts were continuing, forcing the committee to abandon the race.

After moving the mark left, towards Avanzada, things got under way again with fuego fatuo and Spanish Fly showing good pace. Speedy Gonzales took the race, followed by fuego fatuo and Spanish Fly. Day 1 leader board showed Speedy Gonzales and fuego fatuo tied on 4 points, with Ffiel Good on 5.

Saturday dawned hot and humid, it was to be the hottest day of the year so far in Mallorca. Steve and Philip Parry joined the series, and Teresa Parry also joined with ffugue, but suffered a tiller extension failure before the start and had to withdraw.

The winds were again fickle, and a lot weaker than the previous day. Good news was that the triangle courses were sailed. The beach side of the course seemed favoured for more of the time, but not consistently, and Gekko got a fourth and then a third by going for the right side. Speedy Gonzales recorded two-firsts, and Ffiel Good two-seconds. The Parry's in Triffid completed the top end with a third and fourth. Stephen and John (fuego fatuo) couldn't get the new shape jib working in the prevailing conditions, and could only manage two-fifths, ending the series challenge for fuego fatuo. Day 2 leader board had Speedy Gonzales well clear with 6 points, Ffiel Good on 9 and fuego fatuo 14.

With the final race day start an hour earlier at 13:00hrs, winds were always going to be a bit lighter, but nevertheless got off close to the planned time. fuego fatuo sailed a good first leg up the beach side, arriving close to the mark with an apparent lead, only to see the wind on the right strengthen and two boats pass ahead. Team Parry had an excellent race, leading for much of the time, only to be passed by Speedy Gonzales before the finish, with Scott and Andy third in Ffiel Good.

To win the series. Ffiel Good needed to be 5 points clear of Speedy Gonzales, which would be difficult, but not impossible, especially with the conditions. fuego fatuo's misery only continued when the again sailed a good first leg, coming into the mark with a good lead, and again the wind gods abandoned them with three boats slipping by from the right side.

The downwind legs were even more variable than on Saturday, with any number of boats being ahead at some point. On the final run, the wind dropped to almost nothing, with the majority of the fleet choosing the offshore side. Dragonfly took the beach route, and as the wind veered, were able to drop their spinnaker and come up to the line close hauled to take the win. Ffiel Good were second with Speedy Gonzales third, narrowing the points gap to 4points. Michael and Susana (Speedy Gonzales) had been dominant, and took the series, with Scott and Andy (Ffiel Good) a very well deserved second and John and Stephen (fuego fatuo) third.

Podium places:

1. ESP 3804, Speedy Gonzales, Michael Clough / Susann Spreda, 10pts
2. GBR 3763, Ffiel Good, Scott Walker / Andrew Harvey, 14pts
3. GBR 3577, fuego fatuo, John Walker / Stephen Babbage, 24pts

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