Bigger breeze means a new challenge at 41st Copa del Rey MAPFRE
Strong offshore winds, gusting to 22 knots, proved a new, different challenge for teams racing on their first day of their Finals series 41st Copa del Rey MAFPRE on the Bay of Palma.
The blustery breeze unexpectedly broke the mast of the highly fancied DK46 Estrella Damm before racing had even started but it placed a much higher premium on tight, controlled boat handling especially in manoeuvres and mark roundings.
In the ClubSwan 50 Class last year’s champions Hatari hit their stride at just the right time winning both races for the very competitive, closely match fleet while Enis Ersu’s Xai Vision were twice runners up to rise to second overall five points behind Marcus Brennecke’s leaders. Italy’s Vitamina lie third, otherwise breaking up Germany’s stranglehold on the top five positions.
Hatari’s Palma based tactician Markus Wieser reported, “It was windy, very windy and the wind was not too shifty. The breeze was up and down a bit but not too shifty. It was good racing. We got a penalty at the upwind mark first time up but had a good first downwind and beat and went on to win. We were fast downwind on both races.
Remember two years ago we had a big lead before the Finals and lost out and last year we were fourth going, so really we said Top 5 is enough. The system is not good for the ClubSwan 50s. It is more fun to sail these boats in a lot of wind and for us it makes a difference to have very good boat handling. We did good gybes and good manoeuvres. Here you can make 100 metres on a good manoeuvre. You can make a lot at the leeward mark by not ‘washing’ the kite. It is tough but it works for us and we are happy with the outcome today. Yesterday we were unhappy to drop from third to sixth but we said the important races are to come.”
In the ClubSwan 42s it is Pedro Vaquez’s Nadir which now top the leaderboard, overhauling Pez De Abril. Despite building a lead of over ten points on the Preliminary series, that was reduced to just one point. Finishing seventh on the first Finals race dropped them behind Nadir which won both races today.
Rayco Tabares, the Spanish ex J/80 world champion, tactician on Nadir, explained, “We tried to do the best we could in the Preliminary Series, but it is true that in the Final you always try to push a little harder, you are more aggressive in trying not to give anything away. Today we had conditions I think we are very good in, the offshore, land breeze and we were very successful, especially at the getting two good starts In the first one we had a very nice fight with Porrón and in the second one we got away in the middle of the upwind and kept our margin. In general the team has worked very well and we have a very good feel for this wind.”
In Majorica ORC Class 1 Javier Sanz and Christian Plump’s Palibex – Elena Nova hold a four points lead landing a 2.2 today. The French team on the bright green Ker 46 Daguet 3 Corum won the first race and took third in the second, revelling in the stronger breeze. Frederic Puzin and his crews have raced all the premier offshore races such as the Caribbean 600, the Rolex Sydney Hobart, the Rolex Giraglia and the Rolex Middle Sea race and are back in Palma five years after he first raced here in a Mylius 50 Daguet 2, finishing 12th.
The Marseille based Puzin recalled “We had a great day racing, windy and sunny. It is not better for us to have more wind it was just more fun. Winning the race was good but we are always here just trying to do our best. There are a lot of good competitors. We are not optimised for ORC, more IRC but we try to do a bit of both. We were here five years ago and are back again because we enjoyed it.”
Majorica ORC 2’s leader Teatro del Soho CaixaBank is still, effectively, unbeaten after winning the Preliminary series and now taking victories in both races today in their ClubSwan 42. They lead by four points ahead of another ClubSwan 42 Seabery Dralion.
Piti Estébanez trimmer on the leaders, Teatro del Soho CaixaBank, explained: “Today has been a very complicated day because of the wind, which ranged between 16 and 22 knots. The boat was rolling a lot and so it was quite tense and stressful downwind sections, especially in the manoeuvres, which were complicated, the truth is that we were going well but carefully. Today was one of those days when you could win a little but you could very easily lose a lot”.
And in Majorica ORC 3 the seemingly omnipotent Italia Yachts 11.98 Scugnizza C’an Eduardo also carries a scoreline of three firsts after a pair of bullets today. Italian owner Enzo di Blasio smiled,
“It was such a good day’s racing in strong winds but we got another good result. We have such a good crew. We won last year, we have been here four times and won four times. And this is the most beautiful regatta in the world to race at. Now we have our fingers crossed.”
Points are tied at the top of the Herbalife J/70 Class although on countback it is Usana Les Roches whilst in the Sotheby’s Women’s Cup it also all square at the head of the leaderboard where the RCNP’s Maria Bover and crew lead on countback on Team RCNP Balearia