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Flying Fifteens at the 16th Palma Vela Regatta

by Jonny Fullerton 14 May 2019 22:04 BST
Puffin, Waugh Carwadine - 16th Palma Vela Regatta © María Muiña

The 16th Palma Vela regatta delivered a perfect European season curtain raiser with warm spring sunshine and a full range of light to moderately fresh winds and everything from flat calm waters to rolling waves in the Bay of Palma.

The Flying Fifteen fleet sailed the full complement of nine races over a three day weekend, sharing a course with Vipers, Dragons and J80's. The Flying Fifteen fleet was one of the biggest with sailors from Spain, the UK, Ireland, Australia and South Africa. There were also mixed and family teams sailing together, all returning ashore with broad smiles after long days out on the water.

The experience also varied greatly. A new father and son team of Juan and Miguel Agular Caballero representing the local club Real Club Nautico Palma sailing an old boat for the first time. Juan is a teenage local Oppi champion. Also an experienced dinghy sailor Jocelyn Hill helming a chartered boat with her dad Alan stepping into the F15 for the first time. At the other end of the scale are regular Flying Fifteen sailors who sail out of the Port of Pollensa at the North eastern tip of Mallorca. These included an ex-Olympic sailor from Ireland, James Waugh and his Australian crew Ben Carwadine, and an ex-America's Cup sailor David Miles sailing with his wife Corinne.

The first day's racing was a gentle introduction to the Bay of Palma with a light to moderate afternoon seabreeze. All three races were won by James Waugh and crew Ben Carwardine sailing 'Puffin'. However they were pushed hard by a local team of Tim Goodbody and Vincent Harris sailing 'Perfect Alibi' who had stepped back in the Flying Fifteen after a long break sailing other classes.

Both these teams benefitted in the first race of the regatta when the majority of the fleet sailed an extended course having not read the sailing instructions well enough! The Northern Irish team of Jocelyn and Alan Hill also took advantage of the error to finish third. The middle order places were mostly taken up by the RNCP Pollensa teams.

Day two of the regatta started very similarly in very light airs and warm sunshine. Most of the fleet needed a tow out of the harbour to get to the race course, one of four different courses in the Bay of Palma. Race four of the regatta was again won by the Irish/Australian team sailing 'Puffin' followed by Tim and Vincent in 'Perfect Alibi'. Third this time was RNCP Pollensa sailors Scott Walker and Andrew Harvey sailing 'Ffiel Good'.

The second race of the day was started in similar light winds but on the first downwind leg of the windward/leeward course the breeze swung a full 90 degrees forcing the race committee to abandon. There then followed a long wait in the mid day sun when the breeze went into the transition phase waiting for the afternoon sea breeze. Just as most sailors were settling down for an afternoon nap, bobbing about, out of nowhere came a full on blast from the North directly offshore. The breeze quickly developed into a 20+ knot gusty blow causing a rapid change of sailing gear for those who had brought out their wet gear!

Race 5 was a real blast, 'Puffin' took an early lead but a kite failure on the first downwind leg lost them distance. 'Perfect Alibi' scorched past with another chartered boat, 'Wight Flyer' with RCNP Pollensa helm Jonny Fullerton sailing with another light scratch crew from South Africa 'micro Milan' surfing downwind in pursuit. Lap two took its tole on a number of competitors with breakages and retirements. Tim Goodbody and Vincent Harris extended their lead to take the gun from a great downwind dog fight between 'Wight Flyer' and 'Puffin' who had fixed their boat and got back in the race. On the last gybe before the finish a major wipe out by 'Wight Flyer' had them on their side allowing the Puffin to snatch second. 'Wight Flyer' recovered for third.

Whilst most of the fleet were sailing for home the Flying Fifteen's were kept out for their final race of the day having had one abandoned earlier. The gusty conditions continued causing a bit more drama on the start line when 'Wight Flyer' broke her tiller and collided with David and Corinne Miles' 'Stormtrooper 1V'. The remainder of the fleet struggled round scoring low points just by finishing. The race was won by Tim Goodbody and Vincent Harris reducing the overnight lead of James Waugh and Ben Carwardine to just 2 points.

After the usual parties on the terrace of the Real Club Nautico Palma backed up by a mega 'cook your own BBQ' there were a few sore heads and some weary sailors for the final days racing.

It looked to be deja-vue with a light breeze early morning but it soon built to deliver champagne sailing in another moderate 16 - 18 knot seabreeze. The fleet head out for the final three races.

James Waugh and Ben Carwadine looked to had done enough by winning race 7 but the locals in 'Perfect Alibi' reversed the tables in race 8 until the very last 100m of the downwind leg. By stuffing the bow of 'Puffin' across the finish line a nose ahead the Irish/Australian pair had done enough to seal the regatta win without sailing the final race.

The last race was sailed by a reduced fleet late in the afternoon. It was comfortably won by Tim Goodbody and Vincent Harris sailing 'Perfect Alibi' into second place overall. With a string of consistent third places RNCP Pollensa team Jonny Walker and Stephen Babbage claimed third overall sailing 'Fuego Fatuo'.

The 16th Palma Vela was the perfect start to the European season and a great chance to scratch some of the rust off before a busy calendar of Flying Fifteen racing. The local F15 fleet have their 'Mallorcan Championship' to be sailed on the weekend of 8 - 9 June at Port de Pollensa and a number of the Spanish fleet are polishing up their acts for the Flying Fifteen Subaru World Championships hosted by the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire in September.

Flying Fifteen - Overall Results (top 3):

    1. Puffin, James Waugh, 1+1+1+1+(2)+2+1+1+(DNC/11)=10
    2. Perfect Alibi, Timothy Goodbody, (2)+2+2+2+1+1+2+2+1=13
    3. Fuego Fatuo, John Walker/Stephen Babbage, (11)+3+5+6+4+3+3+3+2=29

For full results visit: palmavela.com

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