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A glorious start to the 40th Oyster regatta

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A glorious start to the 40th Oyster regatta, held this year once more in Palma in association with Real Club Nautico de Palma.  In warm and settled conditions, it was clear right from the start of the day that we would be waiting for the sea breeze to kick in from the south west in contrast to the north easterly gradient wind. Bang on the predicted time of 1300 the Palma airport authorities switched the landing and take off direction 180 degrees and the south westerly gently started. Building slowly at first, by 1330 Paul Jackson, Race Officer, was confident we'd have a race and set the first start for 1400.


As per the usual format in Oyster Regattas, the yachts race in Classes, starting in smaller groups for safety reasons and to limit the number of yachts on the line together.

Race Day One, sponsored by Lewmar, started with Class 1 first, in pairs and at two minute intervals, the oldest and the youngest Oyster 82 – hulls number 1 - Bare Necessities - and number 17 –Midnight, fought hard for the line position and Bare Necessities was just a few seconds OCS. Others in Class were more cautious and steadily the fleet got under way.

This year's entrants included six Oyster 575s and the organisers decided to run a '575 Class' within Class 2, starting all six Oyster 575s together.  A great port tack flyer by Irene III at the pin end showed these 575s are in for a good week of tight competitive racing.  Class 3 followed in two starting groups of four and by 1420 all yachts had safely started.

With a steady 8-10 knots for the first leg, the Class 1 fleet started to close-up and despite the eight minutes of staggered starts, all the yachts in Class 1 all rounded the first mark with 2-3 minutes of each other - setting the scene for some good racing for the rest of the week.

The Race Officer had set a longer course for Class 1 taking them further out into the western end of the bay and Classes 2 & 3 were set to loop inside Class 1.  By 1530, after an hour and half of racing it was clear that the sea breeze had started to drop and Paul announced a course change for the smaller yachts.  Shortening the courses for Classes 2 & 3 by a few miles proved a wise decision and all yachts comfortably finished around 1700 - a great first day for the regatta.

At the prize giving, Simon Bowen from Panteanius kindly presented prizes for those who started best – noting that everyone seemed rather cautious in Classes 2 & 3 with the best being Lady Mariposa at 16 seconds after the gun in Class 2 and Pied Piper at 19 seconds in Class 3 and Simon's great prizes started the rumblings of 'must do better tomorrow!'

With the shifty conditions there were some surprises in the results with Maegan getting stuck in a hole in the wind and ending up last in Class 1.  Great racing at the front of Class 1 however, produced some tight results.  Bacchus secured 4th in her first ever regatta, and Starry Night in 3rd was pipped by just 8 seconds by Firebird in 2nd.  A good win by Eddie Jordan and his family sailing Lush set up the challenge for the rest of the week.

WikiWiki sailed a great race in Class 2 to take 1st place, also securing the win for the 575 Class – a rewarding start for her first ever Oyster Regatta.  Similarly Orcinus in her first regatta took a well deserved 2nd place in Class 2.

It was close racing in Class 3 with Ostra taking 2nd just 2 seconds ahead of Pied Piper in 3rd, and only 40 seconds behind Sara Blue V in 1st place, again showing how this event produces some exciting results from corinthian sailing in the sunshine.

The youngest crew in the fleet were aged 2 and 3 sailing on the Oyster 55 Shearwater but the race committee decided that the young sailor award was determinedly won by 11 year old twins on the Oyster 575 Irene III.  Confident in their children's ability whilst finishing at ~8 knots boat speed with the asymetric drawing well, the parents and the rest of the crew hid below and Irene III crossed the line with just the twins on deck, one at the helm and the other trimming the kite – a great cheer went up and they won their special award.

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