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38th Oyster Regatta at Real Club Nautico de Palma - Day 1

by Sue Pelling 6 Oct 2016 15:35 BST 4-8 October 2016

The opening day of racing at the Oyster Regatta Palma 2016 got off to a good start yesterday in light but tactically testing conditions. The Bay of Palma provided the perfect playground for the 43-strong fleet of Oysters gathered for this annual regatta at Real Club Nautico de Palma (RCNP).

Celebrating its 12th year in Palma, a record fleet of Oysters, ranging in size from 45ft-100ft, fought it out under the bright Mediterranean sun. Thanks to David Tydeman's course-setting expertise in the light, tricky conditions, all four classes completed a short, but enjoyable first of four-race, three-to-count series.

Tydeman (Oyster Group CEO – Event Chairman/Race Officer) managed to run the four-class sequence under the Oyster Observed Performance System (aka OOPS) successfully in the 5-8kt breeze, although the sea breeze did drop off earlier than expected. Tydeman commenting on the day, said: "It was quite a complicated one. I set a far too ambitious course in the sense I was expecting the sea breeze to come in much stronger but it didn't. This meant the fleet was going about two thirds of the speed that I assumed so, that combined with dying breeze at around 1630 we shortened the course significantly but at least got a race in, so I am pleased with the first day."

In the light breeze with winds reaching no more than 11kts throughout the day, there were some exciting starts with plenty of barging in at the committee boat end of the line. Starry Night team – Oyster 82-14(GBR) in Class 1 - was one of few to demonstrate a perfect port start, on the biased line, and was able to inch ahead in the crucial first stages of the race. However, in the overall standings on corrected time, it was Guardian Angel (RUS) sailed by Maxim Kudryashov and team on their super-tuned Oyster 885-04 whose impressive teamwork, gave them the edge. In the testing conditions they were able to beat Eddie Jordan's Lush – Oyster 885-01 skippered by Tim Beebe (IRE) by just 30 seconds on corrected time.

Commenting on his win Kudryashov from St Petersburg, said: "It was a difficult race and tough and we made mistakes but tomorrow we will fix that. We could be faster but we actually had a great sail and thoroughly enjoyed it. We have only practiced beforehand for a few days so we need a bit of time to get up to speed."

Rory and Susie McGrath sailing Dalliance – Oyster 62-15 (GBR) sailed well throughout the race and, after a good tactical move up the final beat, were able to win Class 3 by an impressive four minutes on corrected time over Richard Smith's Sotto Vento – Oyster 655-07 (GBR). Commenting on his first race win Rory McGrath said: "We chose the inshore route on the last beat where there was more breeze, out to the right. That was where I believe we won the race. The crew worked well, we kept our eyes out the boat but most of all we had a bit of luck, and lots of fun, of course."

Racing was extremely close in Class 3 with just a couple of minutes between the top five boats on corrected time. The star of the show in Class however, after their amazing comeback having sailed the wrong course was Eric and Ann Alfredson and team on Lisanne – Oyster 575-29 (SWE). This west coast of Sweden-based team, who are in Palma sailing with a couple of close friends, was delighted to have started the regatta on such an interesting note. Eric Alfredson said: "We led the race but then on the second leg we went to the wrong mark, so we were last. Then on the downwind leg we managed to overtake the other boats in the class and sail into the lead once again. It was all down to good teamwork and, I believe we gained extra speed from goose-winging our kite. That allowed us to sail straight to the mark rather than gybing all the way down the run."

In second place in Class 3 was the well-sailed Oyster 575 Calliope – owned and skippered by Charles Manby from Aldeburgh Suffolk.

Hugh Johnson and team Nikitoo II – Oyster 54-19 (GBR) made an excellent start in Class 4 so it wasn't particularly surprising to find them winning their class by well over five minutes on corrected time. Ostra – Oyster 53-23 (GBR) Ritchie Gatt and team finished second from Peter Blackmore's Pied Piper – Oyster 49-12A (GBR).

Raymarine were the proud sponsors of Race Day One of the Regatta and the 'First Over the Line' prizes were presented by Pantaenius.

The prize for the youngest team member in the fleet, who sailed an exceptional first race went to seven-year-old Olivia Hales sailing with her family on her grandfather's boat Cappella of London. Olivia is one of David Hales' four grandchildren and was happy to win this coveted prize. "I love sailing and love helping out. My main jobs are tidying up the ropes and loading the winches, and sometimes I have a go at helming. I think sailing is great for young children mostly because it is fun."

There was certainly no shortage of fun at last night's grand cocktail party and glitzy banquet at the historic Son Termes finca, which rounded off a glorious first day at the Oyster Regatta Palma 2016.

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