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20th PalmaVela Day 1: Galateia returns to defend PalmaVela title with a perfect start

by PalmaVela 2 May 21:28 BST 26 April - 5 May 2024

At the 20th PalmaVela, the showcase curtain raiser for the Mediterranean racing season, a breezy opening pair of windward-leeward races on the Bay of Palma saw the Wally Cento Galateia make a strong start to defending their IRC-IMA Maxi division title that they won last year with a perfect scoreline.

With winds between 18 and 25 knots containing big shifts especially closer to the Palma shoreline, Galateia with owner David Leuschen on the helm, won both races.

Galateia's navigator Simon 'SiFi' Fisher, twice winner of The Ocean Race, and long time navigator on the big Wally yacht explained their return to PalmaVela, "Obviously PalmaVela is a really important event, it's the first event of the season for us so we really get back together and check in and see what our performance is like. We obviously really enjoy sailing in Palma, it's the home for this boat and so many of the crew have sailed here for a lot of years. It's nice to come back to a place that we all enjoy and always delivers really good conditions."

"It was a big first day, certainly an exciting first day back. We went out with the plan to just get through the day, warm up, check the boat is good. But we managed to race competitively, once the start gun went everyone starts racing hard and we had good, close racing with V and Leopard. So we are very happy with our result, but especially getting around the course with no problems."

Fisher's counterpart on Leopard, Welsh navigator Will Best reported, "We have to be pretty happy with today, it was pretty full on and we did well. Galateia is a bit more set up for windward-leeward racing."

Also using PalmaVela as a great warm up for their season are the dominant J Class of the moment the Swedish flagged Svea, racing at the multiclass regatta for the first time. Winners of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup two years in a row Svea finished fifth and fourth. Tactician Bouwe Bekking commented, "I think for us on Svea it was more of an eye opener again. We were over the line early in one of the races and we had to turn back and of course then you're on the back foot. Then we broke a jib, the clew ring broke so the first race was more or less over. We had a spinnaker set and it was all going really well but then we saw a little rip in the spinnaker as well so we decided on the second run we were going to sail bare headed because we only had the light spinnakers on board and so there was nothing to gain. With the second race, we actually had a nice race but it's just one of these things. You can go practicing by yourself and you can feel like a world champion and then once you're on the racecourse it's a different beast."

Ergin Imre's Provezza win the 52 Super Series PalmaVela Sailing Week

After being disappointed to lose the 2023 circuit title on these same waters last year, Ergin Imre's Provezza had a dream finish to the first regatta of this year. Winning the last race of seven sailed over three days of racing, the Turkish flagged team overshadowed the five times champions Doug DeVos's Quantum Racing powered by American Magic.

A long time member of the RCNP, Imre won the big class first in 1997 at Copa del Rey MAPFRE on an early Provezza before racing the TP52 for the first time in 2012 in Palma.

"I think the difference with the team throughout many of the races this week was that we never gave up, there was an incident where we hit the mark but we fought back. Then we came seventh. That's what makes the difference... to fight back.", Imre said.

With Austin and Gwen Fragomen's Interlodge in third and Takashi Okura's Sled fourth, USA flagged boats take three of the top four places.

Tomorrow everyone sails

Three race areas for 13 classes will be in operation as the regatta reaches full strength with more than a hundred boats in the bay of Palma on Friday. Scheduled to race are Maxi, ORC 0, ORC 1, ORC 2, ORC 3, ORC 4-5, A2 0-3, A2 4-5, J80, J70, Dragon, 6 Meters and Spirit of Tradition, that will sail from 1:00 p.m.

Maxi Class after Day 1: (five boats)

1. Galateia (David Leuschen), 1+1=2pts
2. Leopard 3 (Joost Schuijff), 3+2=5pts
3. V (Ole Hansen), 2+3=5pts

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