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British IC45 dominate Palma Regatta

by Sue Warden-Owen on 28 Jan 2001
Another solid Performance for Barlo Plastics on day two of the Clean Marine
Winter Series saw the British Admiral's Cup team boat consolidating her lead
at the front of the fleet.

After a two hour delay to allow a howling gale subside the fleet of
seven IC45's finally started after lunch. Though the wind was by now down to
just 20 knots, the predominantly north westerly direction was far from
stable with huge shifts rolling down from the city of Palma and the
mountains behind. Just to make life even more difficult, a long swell was
still running in from the south. With more strong conditions forecast Barlo
Plastics elected to keep her race mainsail as fresh as possible and sail
her old sail.

A rare mistake from skipper and tactician Adrian Stead saw Barlo Plastics on
the wrong side of the course out of the start. While 'Investor' sailed off
into a left-hand shift and a huge lead, Stead directed Barlo Plastics up the
right side of the course. The price to be paid was last place rounding of
the windward mark. Showing good boat handling, excellent speed and a better
awareness of the shifts, Stead called the shots to put Barlo Plastics ahead
of 'Aifos' and 'Baballas' by the bottom mark. Two more legs of the course
saw further excellent progress, with all but the now long-gone 'Investor'
slowly hauled in by the finish.

By race two the breeze had dropped yet more, though the shifts were if
anything even more unpredictable. One mistake in a day is generally more
than enough for Stead and this time he called the start and first beat to
perfection. 'We came out at the pin with good speed', said helmsman, double
Olympic medallist Ian Walker, 'and went to the left. When we tacked we
crossed the fleet by half a boat length and could control the race from
there'. With their boat speed confirmed by the previous race's performance,
Barlo Plactics sailed a conservative race from here on, shepherding the
fleet behind

Demonstration, if any were needed, as to just how expensive simple mistakes
can be in this highly competitive fleet came from 'Investor' who with just
one slip on the run managed to split their mainsail. Surprisingly, the race
committee gave them enough time to sail back to the dock to replace the sail
before attempting to start a third race. With the wind becoming ever more
unpredictable, this proved to be their undoing and by the time the third
race was underway, the windward leg had turned to a reach and the race was
abandoned at the leeward mark - with Barlo Plastics in the lead.

An attempt at another start proved more successful though this time the
windward mark was nowhere to be found. Unsurprisingly, the fleet simply
sailed in. With four races now sailed and only two more likely on the final
day, Barlo Plastics holds a virtually unassailable lead with fewer than half
the points of her nearest rival, 'Baballas'. Unsurprisingly, Ian Walker,
guest helmsman for the weekend in place of Olympic Gold Medallist, Ben
Ainslie (who has America's Cup commitments elsewhere) was pleased with the
performance. 'we showed we had good speed and good boat handling and Adrian
put the boat in the right place on a very tricky day'.

Racing continues on Sunday with a maximum of three more races scheduled.

Overall results after four races.

1, Barlo Plastics, 5pts
2, Baballas, 14pts
3, Investor, 15pts
27th January 2001

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