A Wonderful Day of Contrasts
Friday, September 29, 2017 3:26 PM
A wonderful day of contrasts to the racing yesterday opened up the results and positioned many more yachts within the fleet ready to win the silverware. With nine of the twenty-six yachts taking part in their first ever Oyster Regatta – in contrast to Oyster 82-14 Starry Night with 25 events already under her belt – the learning curve for some has been steep. However, some of the new arrivals have shown very clearly that they have raced before – Gregg Kelly and his team on Oyster 575 WikiWiki – swept through the variable conditions to be the clear leader overall after the two days – leading the 575 Class, leading Class 2 and being the lowest placed points overall across all classes – a really strong performance.
Race Officer Paul Jackson patiently kept the fleet up to date with the evolving weather conditions for nearly two hours as all waited for the sea-breeze to develop on Race Day Two, sponsored by Pelagos Yachts. By 1300 it became clear that the aspirations to repeat the focus of racing in to the western side of Palma bay as yesterday just wasn't going to happen and that the breeze was most stable ~10 miles to the east. Rather than make everyone track over to that side, Paul bravely called for downwind starts from the middle of the bay, with a heavily biased line. The fleet responded well and although this meant up to six yachts starting together for a starboard beam reaching start, everyone found their space and kites flew enthusiastically as the easterly first leg matured in the building south, south-westerly breeze.
Babiana – the first Oyster 675 ever built and now enjoying her first ever Oyster regatta – boldly elected for the rating option for using more than one off-wind sail. Starting powerfully with her 'cruising cut' code zero, Babiana, quickly took distance from the rest of her class and with great crew work, hit the gybe mark fast, changing from code zero to full Asymmetric, she showed that she too, as a first timer for Oyster events, knew exactly what she was doing.
In contrast, the carbon rig, race sails Kiev Yacht Club based Oyster 625 Lady Mariposa, (and last years winner of Class 2) took the risk of goose-winging their 140% genoa and sailing shorter distances dead downwind and trying to play with the rating advantage allowed if not using spinnakers.
Yesterday Lady Mariposa beat Babiana, today it was the other way round, and the needle match between these two yachts perhaps sets out what the Oyster regatta's are all about – you can be an Olympian, a Volvo sailor, a world champion in a one-design class – but come to an Oyster event, accept that some entrants have rarely raced and will happily race with a family crew, and you enter the Oyster World.
The 20 mile course for Class 1 and ~14 mile course for Classes 2 & 3, under the Oyster handicap system, generated some very close results.
In Class 3, places changed from yesterday, Pied Piper won today, with Ostra 2nd, Sara Blue V 3rd – placing these three yachts only 0.25 points apart after two races. Class 2 similarly close and in Class 1, stalwarts Oyster 82 Starry Night just grabbed the day by 14 secs from the first timers on Oyster 885 Bacchus.
As we move in to day three, its all to play for, no clear winner in Class 1 & 3 and WikiWiki Oyster 575 determined to show she's earned her lead thus far.
Bringing things firmly back to basics during the prize giving – held in the fantastic private Palau March Museum - event Chairman, David Tydeman, expressed his thanks to Willii Gohl, the well respected International Sailing Judge for calmly solving a mark rounding incident between Firebird, Lush andMeagan.
One Oyster owner today (and wanting to remain anonymous) summed it up - "I bought a cruising yacht and got the bug to spend a few weeks a year racing as an amateur in these Oyster events. I pay some professionals to help keep me safe whilst doing this and I have no idea whether to listen to their views on 'right or wrongs' - I applaud Oyster for bringing in an international judge, it helps me decide whether to listen to my race tactician!"
Day three beckons with it all to play for in all Classes. Best three of four to count, there is no obvious winner at this half way stage.