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Flying Fifteen Balearic Championship 2021 at Puerto Pollença, Mallorca

by Stephen Babbage, Flying Fifteen Mallorca 3 Mar 14:27 GMT 19-21 February 2021
Flying Fifteen Balearic Championship 2021 © Hamish Goddard

The Spanish National Championship took place earlier this year, in February rather than September. Six races were scheduled, to be sailed over Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Flying High sailed by Vincent and Patrick Harris returned to defend her title from last year and despite nobody being able to attend from overseas, we had a good turnout including another two new local teams in Flying Uschi and Fiscardo. The fleet continues to expand, and more and more Spanish and Mallorcan sailors are discovering the thrills of Flying Fifteen sailing.

Friday - races 1 & 2

The first day lived up to the forecast with a light wind from just north of east, which continually threatened to disappear. After one general recall, the second start was just as busy, but with nobody OCS. The fleet split early, half going left for the shifts towards the harbour, and the rest right in anticipation of a shift that way. ffinally sailed by John Walker and Stephen Babbage, had chosen that side, along with Flying High (Vincent and Patrick Harris), and they had a close fight to the top mark, ffinally arriving ahead. Martini sailed by Rafa Benitez and Pilar Casares had taken the other side and came in close behind.

The run saw the leaders extend and set off up the second beat with a 100 metre advantage. The second lap was a triangle, with the leaders pulling further away, although not yet planing. Up the third beat, ffinally took the wrong side, and came out behind the other two boats. A quick spinnaker hoist saw them pass Martini and set off after Flying High.

Slowly they reeled them in, and split gybes halfway down to go to the North side of the course. This proved to be the better side, and as they converged on the line, ffinally were a boat length ahead taking the first win, Flying High second, and Martini third.

Before Race 2 ffinally stayed off to the right and became absorbed in resetting their compass for the new wind. When they came back to the line, they heard a gun and initially thought it was the 4-minute, except that everybody looked neatly lined up - it was the start! Last at the start gave them all to play for, but they had clear air to immediately tack off to the right. This paid massively, and as they came into the top mark for the first time they had recovered to mid fleet.

Down the run they knocked off two more places, to see them back with Martini and Flying High. The wind had continued to shift right, so the committee moved the top mark to compensate, extending at the same time as the breeze had freshened. ffinally came on to the triangle in second but couldn't catch Rafa and Pilar. Up the final beat Flying High took the better side, and arrived at the top in second, Martini still leading. ffinally set off in pursuit and closed to within a length but ran out of racetrack and had to settle for third.

So, day one ended with three boats all on 4 points, followed by Stormtrooper IV sailed by David Miles and Hamish Goddard on 8 points, Wight Flyer sailed by Stephen and Philip Parry on 11 and Speedy Gonzales sailed by Michael Clough and Hugh Birley with 12. All set for an exciting regatta.

Saturday - races 3 & 4

The forecast had been for more wind, and so it was a surprise to find only 8 knots, and from more northerly than the previous day at 070°.

Race 3 started promptly and set off in a faltering breeze which was swinging strongly right. The leaders from Friday had a poor start and were struggling in mid fleet, and so were pleased when the race was abandoned halfway up the leg after the wind had moved 40° right.

After laying a new mark, the race was restarted, unsurprisingly most of the fleet tacked off right as soon as they could, expecting the wind to move that way. However, this was not to be, and the wind remained relatively stable. ffinally got to the top first, Flying High, Stormtrooper IV and Martini in hot pursuit. The wind dropped for a bit and the leaders saw the rest of the fleet coming down on the new wind, closing up rapidly. However, they stayed ahead and set off for the top again. Flying High called the beat best, and got there first, followed by ffinally and Stormtrooper IV.

ffinally were unable to catch up and started the final beat behind Flying High. Stormtrooper and Martini had a great fight on this leg, with the latter coming out ahead before the final downwind. Positions didn't change on this leg, giving Flying High another 1st, ffinally another 2nd and Martini a 3rd.

The wind stayed right for race 4, with Speedy Gonzales getting a good start and sailing a strong beat. Flying High and ffinally were now sailing a match race, leaving the rest of the fleet to fight it out. Paco Terras and Enric Oro, sailing Flying Uschi, had a great battle with Speedy finishing only just behind them in fourth, whilst Martini had an inconsistent race and finished tenth.

Going into the final day, Flying High was on 6pts, ffinally 8pts, Martini 17pts, Stormtrooper IV 18pts and Speedy Gonzales 20pts. So, on Sunday the battles would be between two boats for the top slot and three for the remaining podium.

Sunday - races 5 & 6

The forecast was for 20+ knots, with gusts in the 30's, and a few boats decided not to come, thinking racing might be called off. In the end, we started in only 12 knots, from south of east.

Race 5 started in the strongest breeze of the day, with most of the boats de-powering for the first beat. Nevertheless, the regatta leaders were all close at the top, and blasted off on the run, only to have the wind drop dramatically halfway down. This allowed the fleet to concertina, although the front group remained ahead.

Up the second beat, the wind strengthened again and carried on moving right, with the top mark moved the same way. Flying High rounded first, made a slow spinnaker hoist and shot off on the tight reach, with ffinally following a hundred metres behind. Meanwhile Martini had an incident with Stormtrooper IV, and had to take a penalty, which allowed David and Hamish into third place.

The second reach was just as fast, and the two leaders extended their advantage. Then the wind dropped a little for the final beat, and Stormtrooper IV and Martini closed up. Halfway up, Martini crossed behind ffinally, and on their next meeting tried for a lee bow tack. They executed this perfectly but were stunned as ffinally the just pointed up and sailed over the top, arriving at the mark clear ahead.

On the final run ffinally tried everything to catch Flying High but missed out on the stronger wind out to the right and had to settle for second. Stromtrooper IV came in third, just ahead of Martini and Wight Flyer.

The series was now firmly in Flying High's hands but there being no discards, the final race was still to count.

The wind was already dropping as the last race was started and swinging even more to the right. Halfway up the beat, many were starting to question whether we'd finish before dark. ffinally got there first and started down the run with Flying High next. The wind went even further right, and the run became a reach. Once again, the Race Officer reacted quickly, moving the top mark a lot closer, and the wing down as well.

The triangle was a lot less frantic than in the previous race, but just as critical to the results, with the top two again extending on the rest of the fleet. As the wind faded further up the final beat, fuego fatuo (Ben Stitt and Ryan Donaldson) closed in, and then passed ffinally before the mark. fuego (Francisco Gadala-Maria and Ximena Rubio) stayed well out to the side, whilst ffinally went down the middle and gained ground. Coming to the finish, fuego gybed and came in at the pin end whilst ffinally headed for the middle. Both boats crossed at almost the same time, the committee awarding it to fuego by half a bow.

So Flying High successfully defended her title, with ffinally second, and Rafa and Pilar in Martini third for the second year.

Overall Results:

1 ESP 3592 - Flying High - Vincent Harris / Patrick Harris - 8pts
2 GBR 4014 - ffinally - John Walker / Stephen Babbage - 13pts
3 GBR 3382 - Martini - Rafa Benítez / Pilar Casares - 26pts
4 ESP 4058 - Stormtrouper IV - David Miles / Hamish Goddard - 34pts
5 GBR 3577 - Fuego Fatuo - Ben Stitt / Ryan Donaldson - 36pts
6 ESP 3728 - Wight Flyer - Stephen Parry / Philip Parry - 36pts
7 ESP 3509 - Flying Uschi - Paco Terras / Enric Oro - 44pts
8 ESP 3804 - Speedy Gonzales - Michael Clough / Hugh Birley - 46pts
9 CHI 3598 - ffuga - Francisco Gadala-Maria. / Ximena Rubio - 51pts
10 ESP 3817 - Dragonfly - Michael Beecken / Anna Penninger - 51pts
11 HKG 3650 - Fiscardo - Victor Rosselló / Juan Buades - 67pts
12 GBR 3471 - Triffid - Francisco José Mascaró Jaume / Jaime Marques - 72pts

As well as the winners' trophy, the top three also received a framed reproduction from the original Uffa Fox drawings, suitably titled for the 2021 Championships.

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