The 2019 Balearic Flying Fifteen Championship (Spanish Nationals) took place over a three day weekend on the waters of Pollenca Bay at the Northern tip of the stunning island of Mallorca.
The Spanish isle welcomed a mix of nationalities and expats from Spain, Brazil, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa and the UK to sail in a variety of sailing conditions with light to medium and heavy winds accompanied by warm temperatures. Amongst the crews over a third of the fleet were sailed by female crews and skippers.
Race day 1 had a late afternoon scheduled start of 1500 hrs but due to the unusual (in direction) SW breeze coming off the mountains, racing was delayed whilst the mark layers whizzed around the bay relaying marks due to the late autumnal breeze going round in circles.
Racing did get underway around 1600 hrs when it did settle in the original predicted direction (SW). It was worth the wait and two races were completed in a light to moderate 8 - 12 knots. The race officer from the Club Náutico Puerto Pollença set a windward/leeward, triangle, windward/leeward course.
Race 1 of the regatta was won by David Miles and Jonny Fullerton. They tacked inshore immediately after the start and played the shifts best to lead around the course from James Waugh and (Micro) Milan van Rhyn, who chased all the way to the finish line falling a couple of boat lengths short at the finish. John Walker and Steve Stewart came in third.
The second race of the day was similarly shifty but this time it was Scott Walker (no relation to John), sailing with Andrew Harvey who got away and gradually extended their lead around the three lap race course to notch up their first win of the regatta. David Miles and Jonny Fullerton squeezed over for second just ahead of James Waugh and Micro Milan in third.
Day 2 of the championship was a long day. Regatta organises Club Náutico Puerto Pollença had set another late start time of 1500 hrs for two more races. This enabled the vast majority of the fleet to enjoy (Unless you were Australian!), two pulsating rugby world cup matches and tempt a few crew into some early morning beverages. However by lunchtime the Southwesterly breeze had increased as forecast to a feisty 16 - 18 knots with gusts of much more. Fortunately the Bay of Pollenca is well protected and with the offshore breeze the waves were not too big.
As the fleet punched out to windward this time it was Tim Goodboy and Vincent Harris who grabbed the lead on lap 1 followed by a tightly packed group. David Miles and Jonny Fullerton worked their way through the fleet to just beat John Walker and Steve Stewart on the finish line. A late broach by James Waugh and Micro Milan cost them third place.
The second race of the day was held in fresh conditions with some big gusts. The reaches were tight and fast. Again, Tim Goodboy and Vincent Harris leapt out to a comfortable lead with the chasing pack changing places throughout the three lap race. James Waugh and Micro Milan chased the lead boat hard stretching away in second but third place was up for grabs between a number of contenders.
This time it was Hugh Wilson’s turn to shine. Hugh is one of the founding members of the original Flying Fifteen fleet in Puerto Pollenca and winner of the Balearic title three times in the 1990’s. He travelled from Brazil to meet up with his family who were all sailing in two different boats at this year’s event. Hugh and crew Christopher were a well placed third in front of the regatta leaders David Miles and Jonny Fullerton who were suffering with spinnaker rigging issues for much of the race.
After two days of racing two boats stood out with a reasonably comfortable lead but with no discards their was no time to relax. The third day of the regatta was yet another late start at 1500 hrs. This allowed time to watch another two rugby matches and attend to a number of running repairs. There was also a lot of gazing out into the bay as the wind was howling in the rigging with gusts well above 30 knots and white water in the bay.
A tentative fleet head out onto the race course only to find the weather did ease a bit by 1600hrs and allowed the final two races to be staged. Tension was mounting on the start line with the title and podium places up for grabs. In race 5 James Waugh and Micro Milan sailed a good race to lead the fleet home around the standard 3 lap course. But behind them places were swapped around the course with the slightest error being punished in more punchy conditions. David Miles and Jonny Fullerton had to work hard to stay in touch with the Irish/South African crew but found a way to just pip Scott Walker and Andrew Harvey on the finish line to keep the scores level.
Fittingly the final race would decide the title and due to the darkening skies and the clock ticking close to 1700 hrs the race committee brought the windward mark in for a shorter 3 lap decider.
Another clean start saw seasoned Flying Fifteen campaigner Michael Clough show his stripes. Michael was sailing this year with Suzanne Spreda from Germany. Michael and Suzanne led the two regatta leaders around the track but the race for the title would go down to the wire.
David Miles and Jonny Fullerton held off James Waugh and Micro Milan on the tight and slightly nervy reaches but on the downwind leg to the leeward mark the young guns sailed high and fast to snatch second place behind Michael and Suzanne. The canny David Miles (who once was part of the British Americas Cup team way back), called a late spinnaker drop and snatched an inside overlap.
The last upwind was a bit cagey but a case of trying to maintain a cover which David and Jonny managed to do but only led by about two boat lengths at the final mark rounding. The run down to the finish would decide the championship.
Michael Clough and Suzanne Spreda finished with the bullet but behind the opposing crews separated gybes. It was James Waugh and Micro Milan who chose the offshore route and picked up a bit more pressure to slide past David Miles and Jonny Fullerton to claim their first Flying Fifteen Balearic Championship title. David Miles and Jonny Fullerton finished behind them and in the regatta rules the tied scores would be settled by the finishing order in the final race. By the time the fleet returned ashore around 1800 hrs it was almost time to put the lights on!
The 2019 Flying Fifteen Balearic Championship will be remembered as a well supported regatta with a variety of sailing conditions and some very close racing.
Overall results (top 6)
1 ESP3724 Puffin - James Waugh / Milan van Rhyn 2, 3, 4, 2, 1, 2 = 14pts
2 ESP4058 Stormtrooper 1V - David Miles / Jonny Fullerton 1, 2, 2, 4, 2, 3 = 14pts
3 ESP3673 ffeil good - Scott Walker / Andrew Harvey 4, 1, 5, 7, 5, 4 = 26pts
4 ESP3577 Fatua Fuego - John Walker / Steve Stewart 3, 7, 3, 5, 4, 5, = 27pts
5 ESP3804 Speedy Gonzales - Michael Clough / Susanne Spreda 7, 5, 6, 6, 3, 1 = 28pts
6 ESP3432 ESP - Hugh Wilson / Christopher Wilson 5, 8, 7, 3, 6, 6 = 35pts
by Jonny Fullerton of Regatta Services