Puerto Pollenca served up the whole gamut of weather conditions including, sunshine, humidity, thunder, lightning and torrential rain at the 2018 Flying Fifteen Spanish (Balearic) Championships held in the Bay of Pollenca at Mallorca between Friday 14th and Sunday 16th September.
The venue is the jewel of the Balearic Islands with a large protected bay surrounded by mountains but this late summer long weekend regatta turned out to be one to remember. The host club Real Club Nautico Puerto Pollenca, organised a mixture of windward/leeward and w/l, triangle courses over the three days. A compact but competitive fleet included sailors from Spain, Great Britain, Ireland, Germany, Netherlands and South Africa, most residing on the island of Mallorca.
Friday was a typical humid sunny morning with a light and shifty breeze from the N/NE. By the time racing started at 1445hrs, a 6 - 10 knot sea-breeze had filled but the shifts were very irregular. After a packed start the two seasoned Flying Fifteen sailors who know the waters best, set off inshore, (left) up the first beat. Paco Palmer and his long time crew Jaume Pujades, returned to the fleet after a long break and Michael Clough, who has won the championship many times, teamed up with Jonny Fullerton for the regatta. Paco and Jaume sailing (Spanish Fly) chose to bang the corner but Michael Clough (Speedy Gonzales) worked the left hand side of the course best, working the shifts to take a handsome lead at the first mark. The majority of the fleet chose to go offshore (right) and came to the mark in a bunch.
Places changed mid fleet on the downwind legs with David and Corinne Miles (Stormtrooper IV) skilfully working their way up into second place on the second lap. Michael Clough held on for the race win followed by David and Corinne Miles with third going to James Waugh and Neil Botha (Puff), who are new to the fleet and showing good pace around the course.
The second race of the day was held in a fading late afternoon breeze in warm sunshine and clear blue skies for which the bay of Pollenca is renowned. Another clear start and a shifty upwind saw the same boats trading for the lead but it was the young guys in Puff showing a clean pair of heels to the rest of the fleet. On lap 2 (the triangle), there was a tussle for places with crowded mark rounding’s. Paco Palmer and Jaume Pujades slipped through to second place leaving a three way fight for third between Michael Clough, David & Corinne Miles and Scott Walker and Andrew Harvey sailing (Ffiel Good). On the last downwind leg Clough’y used all his guile to narrowly cross in third. After a late finish the RCNPP held a gourmet dinner at the salubrious club on the water front of the harbour.
Saturday looked much more menacing. Another afternoon start with two more races planned, but the skies were already looking very threatening by lunchtime. Race 3 began in a similar light to moderate shifty sea breeze from the NE/E sector.
A clean start but a very tricky first leg with constant shifts and changes in pressure. Again it was the stalwart of the class, Michael Clough (Speedy Gonzales) who read the race track best, leading by some distance on lap 1 (w/l). Following the pack shuffled but it was Paco/Jaume (Spanish Fly) and James/Neil (Puff) who worked their way to the podium spots on lap 2 (triangle). By the final (w/l) leg the sky was turning black and the thunder was groaning over the mountains at nearby Alcudia. To make matters worse the wind shut down at various locations on course. Frustrating, this left Michael/Jonny (Speedy Gonzales) parked up at the top mark in no wind. The fleet closed up but as Speedy Gonzales crawled towards the finish line with collapsed kite and with Puff and Spanish Fly inching along to close the gap, the heaven’s opened with torrential rain, brutal lightning and ear bursting thunder. The faint breeze turned 180 degrees leaving Michael/Jonny (Speedy Gonzales) to creep over the line. Paco/Jaume (Spanish Fly) managed to locate the line to finish second but James/Neil (Spanish Fly) were left on the wrong side of the course and had to work hard to finish before Hamish Goddard and Hugh Birley (Gecko) taking a well earned 4th.
The summer storm was so severe that racing had to be curtailed for the day, several boats filled up with water from the ‘golf ball’ size rain drops and sailors complained that their compasses were rotating, causing it to be very hard to locate the shore! All however made their way home looking like drowned rats.
Having dried out overnight the final day had a similar forecast for light to moderate winds from E/SE and possible thunder storms. Race 4 got underway at 1430hrs with another angry looking thunder storm forming over Alcudia.
With no discard Paco and Jaume had to count a 7th in race 1 meaning they were almost out of contention for the championship. So it would be decided between Michael/Jonny (Speedy Gonzales) and James/Neil (Puff) unless either bombed in the final race.
The first upwind was yet another tricky leg to test the best of tacticians. The lead appeared to change hands several times in the shifts but no surprises for who managed to lead on lap 1 of the longer (sausage, triangle, sausage) course. It was Michael Clough using all his experience to lead a tight bunch including Scott/Andrew (Ffiel Good), James/Neil (Puff) and David/Corinne (Stormtrooper IV). Paco/Jaume led the race on all legs throughout the triangle and set off up the final sausage leg when the thunder storm again started to roar. Michael/Jonny (Speedy Gonzales) just had to cover their main opposition to win the regatta. As the rain pounded down and the lightning struck again the race committee halted the race abruptly at the windward mark.
Speedy Gonzales made a last ditch attempt tacking on a rather lucky shift to cross Paco/Jaume and Scott/Andrew just before the finish to close out the championship with three wins and a third. The thunderstorm was a repeat of the previous days drama with the whole fleet limping ashore in the monsoon conditions.
Overall Results (Top 6)
1 ESP 3804 Michael Clough/Jonny Fullerton - 1,3,1,1 = 6pts
2 ESP 3724 James Waugh/Neil Botha - 3,1,3,4 = 11pts
3 ESP 3825 Paco Palmer/Jaume Pujades - 7,2,2,3 = 14pts
4 ESP 3763 Scott Walker/Andrew Harvey - 4,5,5,2 = 16pts
5 ESP 3728 Stephen Parry/Theresa Parry - 5, RDG/5,6,5 = 21pts
6 ESP 4058 David Miles/Corinne Miles - 2,4,DNF,7 = 23pts
by Jonny Fullerton on behalf of the Flying Fifteen class
photos: calm before the storm c Hamish Goddard
winners parade c Corinne Miles