The final day of racing at the Real Club Náutico de Palma’s Palmavela, the opening event of the International Maxi Association’s 2023 Mediterranean Maxi Inshore Challenge, came very close to not happening. The two maxis fleets, along with the multitude of one design, box rule and handicap classes that compete in this, one of the Mediterranean’s foremost regattas, had to wait for more than two hours for the land breeze to subside and for the wind to fill in, partly thanks to the onset of a giant cloud that brought rain to their course on the Bay of Palma.
Today’s race was a 19 mile coastal course in sub-10 knot conditions. As usual the two largest yachts, the Wallycentos Magic Carpet Cubed and Galateia were at each other’s jugulars. On this occasion it was Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones’ blue-hulled giant that made the best of the first upwind to lead around the top mark. However Galateia was swifter to dowse her Code 0 at the next turning mark, and managed to nose ahead, further helped when Magic Carpet Cubed chose to take the inshore route down the west coast of the Bay of Palma and was becalmed for a few minutes. However she subsequently came back strongly. The match racing between the two 100 footers continued right up to the finish line.
“We have been trying to get the boat going better in light airs,” explained tactician Kelvin Harrap. “We have to be happy. David and Chris have both learned a lot,” he added, referring to Galateia’s co-owners David M. Leuschen and Chris Flowers. This week Leuschen steered, with Flowers ‘observing’ prior to taking the helm for the first time at Rolex Giraglia next month.
“Palma has always been very kind to us,” said a delighted David M. Leuschen. “Maybe it is because the boat is based here! It is the third or fourth time we have raced here and we have had good luck every time.”
He added: “We have got a great crew that we continue to tweak and we seem to learn something new every race: Today we did a gybe peel just before the finish – the crew did a masterful job.”
In winning the Maxi A class at Palmavela, Galateia also won Galateia also won the trophy for the best placed IMA member and strongly starts her campaign for the 2023 IMA Mediterranean Maxi Inshore Challenge, which she will continue with Rolex Giraglia next month and the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup in September, before concluding the season at Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez.
Magic Carpet Cubed was the nearest rival to Galateia, finishing second overall, having prevented Galateia from achieving a perfect scoreline by winning Friday’s second windward-leeward race.
“I am not sure we sailed brilliantly, although we sailed okay,” admitted her strategist, America’s Cup legend Tom Whidden. “I rarely talk about luck, but yesterday maybe we had a little bit of bad luck with the wind pulsing in and out and our timing was wrong for a lot of what happened. But on the other days we have had wonderful racing with Galateia. If it is 10 knots or under, like today, we are quite competitive with them. If it is 10+ knots they are faster. I think they have raised their game a lot too.”
Making his first return to the race course since winning the IMA Mediterranean Maxi Inshore Challenge in 2019, Miguel Galuccio and his Nauta 84 Vera claimed the third step of the podium.
Among the classics and modern classic maxis in the Maxi B class, Guillaume de Montalier’s Truly Classic 90 Atalante was the stand-out performer today although with the breeze dying this was a case of conditions favouring the faster boats. However Ermanno Traverso and the crew of the ‘original maxi’, Stormvogel, clung on and despite finishing more than an hour later than Atalante, both on the water and under IRC corrected time, scored a vital second place enabling them to win the Maxi B class by just a point from Atalante.
“We did not think we were going to get a race in today with the big rain cloud coming in, but the wind hung in just long enough,” explained Stormvogel’s captain Ian Hullerman. “We were down to about 2.5 knots of wind speed for the last hour and a half of today’s race but it was good to get that in and have a decent result.”
IMA Secretary General Andrew McIrvine said of the opening event of the 2023 IMA Mediterranean Maxi Inshore Challenge: “Palma delivered a wonderful mix of conditions and we were pleased by the strong, but diverse group of maxi yachts competing. The Real Club Náutico de Palma did their usual brilliant job of race management and entertainment ashore in their world-class clubhouse. The IMA greatly appreciates their effort.”
The IMA Mediterranean Maxi Inshore Challenge continues soon, over 15-18 May, with the inshore races of the IMA Maxi European Championship, taking place out of Sorrento on the Bay of Naples.