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20th PalmaVela Day 2: Classic Palma sea breeze day sees the event at full size

by PalmaVela 3 May 20:08 BST 26 April - 5 May 2024

As the giant PalmaVela multiclass regatta mustered all 12 classes which are competing at this 2024 edition of the Med's traditional curtain raiser, it was 'back to normal' Palma Bay at its spring best. A 12-14 knots sea breeze with proper warm sunshine was a welcomed return after the very mixed conditions of the last week.

With four races now sailed for the five strong IMA Maxi class at PalmaVela the two Wally Centos Galateia and V are now tied on five points apiece. After winning both races in Thursday's brisk 20 plus knots winds on the Bay of Palma, and looking like might run away with the class title again, today David Leuschen and Chris Flowers Galateia could only manage a third and fourth whilst their Cento rivals V finished second behind the J Class Svea in the first race and won the second.

V has had a whole 'laundry list' of updates and modifications over the winter and so the owner and the team led by tactician Kenny Read were pleased to race on very equal terms with Galateia which has dominated the class here for at least the last two editions, last year running up a string of firsts. Clearly now they have real competition in the shape of the sleek Mark Mills designed 100 footer.

"They were going really well today, full credit to them they are sailing well." Acknowledged Galateia's Kelvin Harrap, "It is great to have competition and the last two days now we have the 100 footers going around the top mark all overlapped!"

On the first race the Swedish flagged Svea, which has Bouwe Bekking as tactician, read the shift well and were able to gain their time by their ability to sail almost straight downwind, winning ahead of V by 1 min 20 sec on corrected time with Galateia third.

V then narrowly won the second against Rose, the Wally 80.5 which was a tantalising six seconds behind on corrected time after 57 minutes of racing. Galateia tore a spinnaker and finished fourth behind Svea which, scoring 1,3 today, lies third.

V's Read was happy with the day, "It was a right handed show all day. Our speed... well last year I told the guys coming in that last year our tactics probably did not seem very good because we did not have the speed and today the tactician (him) had a pretty easy day because we were quick. That's the way it goes. The races were beautiful, typical Palma sea breeze, 13kts and shifty, a lot of light spots here and there. It was a beautiful Palma day. Paul Wilcox is doing a great job with the owner, he is kind of the owner coach, the driving coach as this is only the fifth regatta he has ever steered in his life, and I don't mean in the last couple of years, I mean in his life. So we have worked really hard. He is a sponge for learning and we are giving him all we have. And so kudos to Paul he did a really good job and the owner steered really well. Jeff Cuzon has been the navigator on the boat since the boat was new and the boat has all new instruments on the boat, instruments that now work. Between Jeff and Paul and I it is working well."

He added, "We are really pleased. We made a bunch of changes and they seem to be working. The boat is eight years old and it had never really had any upgrades and so we used the winter to make these changes. We have all gone water ballast and changed bulbs and our sprit length is out now where everyone else's is. We have new aero rigging and a new sail dynamic how it fits to the boat, there are a lot of big things and a lot of smaller things. We are all working out a bunch of gremlins but we are super pleased with where we are at."

Galateia's Harrap summarised, "It was a tough day for us. We were close with V on the first race but there was a big right shift and they were to our right and so they crossed ahead at the first mark. There was a big right shift in the first race and it was pretty hard to get back into it. It is good to see all the boats having their day. And the second race I made a meal of the start and we were late at the starboard end. It was very close again with V at the first intersection and they just crossed ahead of us and they controlled the race from there. We tore a spinnaker at the top mark which was not helpful."

Svea's navigator Steve Hayles recalled, "It was a good fun day, Palma at its best. It is very hard to rate these different boats but we are very much here as a training event before the other Js turn up. So it was a better day than yesterday as we Js can cope with the wind but the sea state was really difficult. We are not really looking for a handicap result this is the best racing around at the moment and we are just getting practice in, but in saying that it was great fun. The other 100 footers are focused on each other and we just do our thing. We had a strong start and went the way we wanted to."

The 6 Metre class are back again at PalmaVela and enjoying close, tight racing. They have 11 boats based out of Arenal and this showcase regatta is an important early season warm up. After two races today Dieter Schoen's Momo leads after two second places whilst second and third placed Stella and Ginkgotoo both opened their accounts with a sixth and a race win apiece.

Momo's Markus Wieser rounded up their day on the Swiss flagged boat, "We had a good start in the first race but the jib sheet broke and so we had to tack back and we were second last, so fifth, but we could catch up and got second. And then the second race we were third and caught one boat and got second. It is great fun in these boats because you feel really low in the boat that the waves feel really big! It is hard sailing, metre class boat sailing like this is hard. We now have ten boats based out of Arenal and we will do ten more races out of Arenal. The whole fleet will then go to the Europeans in Sanxenxo, north of Spain."

Tomás Gasset's TP52 Urbania won the ORC 0 coastal race. "It has been a really complete race the Race Committee has managed to set up a course using the entire bay," says Iñaki Castañer, tactician on board Urbania. "It was the first day of sailing on board this boat and we have gradually learned how to handle the boat. We have been close to our competitors and little by little the balance has tipped our way. There is a lot of racing left so we have to work hard to continue like this."

In ORC 1 it is the Polish Grand Soleil 44 P Wind Whisperer which prevailed. ORC Classes 2,3 and 4-5 raced windward leewards. Yann Lythgoe's First 40.7 won both races in Class 2, in Class 3 it is Pep Pons Italia 9,98 Wanderlust that leads by a single point. Classes 4-5 see the Arenal based First 30.5 Tres Mares.

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