29 September - 03 October 2015

Oyster Palma Regatta 2015

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29th September 2015

Introduction

Gathering the fleet.

The turn of September-October may mark the near ending of the European season but in Mallorca it more happily signifies gathering time for the annual Oyster Regatta based out of the Real Club Náutico de Palma. Yesterday, 29 September 2015, the largest fleet yet for this event, now in its 11th running, tied up alongside the welcoming club. Thirty yachts from nine nations, all set for the four days of racing ahead in a burst of mixed weather improving toward the weekend. 

Nothing to trouble the Oyster fleet, though. Bluewater’s not always blue, as they say, and these boats and owners go together to get to places together!  

With the fleet here encompassing every level of experience from first time owners and racers to professionally guest-crewed contenders, the top priority is safety first and with Race Day One looking ready to serve a 20-plus knot northerly gusting 35 with plenty of rain, too, Race Officer, Oyster CEO David Tydeman, will keep a watchful eye and ear on morning forecasts. “I don’t like to start if we have steady wind around 30 knots, but if we’re 20-25 under cloud we’ll be ok,” he says. “We’re taking forecasts from radio, airport, club and, seeing this weather system building beforehand, we’ve hired our own weather guru for this event.”

In all, this is the 36th dedicated Oyster regatta since the first in 2001, with events both sides of the Atlantic and even away down south in Auckland. And in Palma again this year, the horizons of some participants reach far around the globe. Event flagship, Eddie Jordan’s family trust’s Oyster 885 Lush is back for her first regatta since her 2014 Antiguan completion of the inaugural Oyster World Rally, and with some 40,000 miles now under her belt, or should we say waterline. Sharing that same circling is Richard Smith’s Oyster 655 Sotto Vento who clearly now holds the Oyster attendance record with a score of 19. It’s been noted Richard will need a bigger boat at the next event for the forestay length to fly the 20th battleflag! 

Awaiting the starting gate for the next Oyster World Rally in 2017, now three times regattistes Rory and Susie McGrath are back in Palma Bay with Oyster 53 Spindrift again. But, jokingly, not content with sailing just one Oyster, across the harbour there’s their newly acquired Oyster 62 ready for the build up to the World Rally. “It’ll really be something, especially with the longer time now given to explore, not such a rush,” says Rory. 

Also prepping for the World Rally, the two families Smith and Bishop are here aboard Oyster 655 Meteorite, formerly Acheron. After two previous same-named boats together, this is the co-owners first joining of the Oyster clan, and already much enjoyed. 

Nigel Betts and family, similarly here as first time Oyster owners and World Rally joiners, have chosen for their ride Oyster 53 Venture, formerly Lisanne, a successful boat at regattas previously. No pressure then! Nigel, not a racer, has been around before, completing full circle with the Challenge boats in ’96. That set his mind to “going around the word gain… nicely!”  In April the Betts checked the Palma brokerage office, visited three 53s on the books and in July stepped aboard their first owned boat. Twenty years on and the Betts are on.

The van den Enden family here aboard their Oyster 54 Talaba, formerly In Flagranti which went around the world, are set to sail the rally, too, and the former owner of In Flagranti will also sail the Rally again aboard a new 575 currently in build. 

Oyster 56 Britican is not yet looking to set off around the globe but liveaboard owners Simon and Kim Brown clearly live the life with a year now meandering the Med after selling up and sailing way with no prior big boat experience. You may recognise their story (and blog) from the latest issue of the Oyster magazine. This is their first regatta and they’re sailing with the fleet’s youngest member, five year old daughter Sienna – a full 80 years younger than the oldest crew member in the fleet!

Perhaps almost the polar opposite, the very seasoned Oyster regatta attendee, Oyster 82 Starry Night of the Caribbean, second only in flag count to Sotto Vento, includes in the afterguard a splendid ‘wisdom’ of highly experienced octogenarians who’ve sailed and won more than a few races. And intentions were again made clear. As the Oyster team jumped from boat to boat in the concourse d’elegance inspection, Starry Night’s trademark twin white poles were ready cupped and raised on the mast, parallel pointing straight out the dock. To battle seemed the message! Sister 82, Bill Mapstone’s Oofledust, sharing the same extended stern, looked less militarised but in the best of all fashions had nipped out for practice. Alan Parker’s 82 Dama de Noche, enjoyed in his new ownership first time in the BVI event back in April, has had a busy season but checked in in fabulous shape. Oyster 82 Bare Necessities is here, too, with new owner Matt Newing aboard, skippered by long term captain Alex Drummond who’s been with the boat since launch 11 years ago. 

This is Matt’s first boat and this event his first racing. What a great way to start. You only have to ask Oyster 72 Infiniti of Cowes about this. Owners Ken and Diana Randall raced their first ever event at the Oyster Regatta BVI and stormed the class, first in every race. They said they’d be back for more and they are… perhaps declaring intent with a new higher tech mainsail from Dolphin.

The fleet divides into three classes, the 72 Infiniti this time rising from Class 2 to 1 with Joe and Cathey Leitch’s newly delivered Oyster 725 named On Liberty again, having this season moved up from the original 575. So an interesting regatta for them together, challenging the 82s and 885.

Class 2 draws the 575s Atalanta, already mentioned, experienced regatta hand Bill Munro’s Boarding Pass III, and newcomer Philip and Jane Wilson’s Isabel, together with the biggest cluster, the six 625s, all previous entrants, Alpha Eden Island, Tinus Slaber, Angel, Klaas Meertens, Delicia, Henrik Nyman, Flying Spirit, Rudolf Kaegi, Great Bear V, Graham Hetherington, and Tiger, Simon Pillar and family. Also in class are the 655s, Meteorite and Sotto Vento, already mentioned, and iSNL.

Class 3 includes Peter Blackmore’s Oyster 49 Pied Piper, the 53s Spindrift and Venture and two more newcomers Ostra, Richie Gatt, and Distraction, Simon Tysoe, then Oyster 54s Talaba, already mentioned, newcomer Nikitoo II, Hugh Johnson, and regular Sara Blue V, Charles Billson, topped off with first timer 56 Tara, Hasip Gencer, and the Brown family’s Britican.

Nine nations all set to sail fairly, weather permitting… and blessed by a sparkling pre-race party on the terrace of the Real Club Náutico de Palma with Veuve Clicquot cocktails courtesy of Moët Hennessy. Way to go!

30th September 2015

Race Day One

The forecast defied itself.

Yes, at first light the thunder crashed around the bay, the rain tipped down, and hatches stayed shut, but the threatened 30 knot gusts were notably not there. The Race Committee took the plunge. The Oyster Palma Regatta fleet was almost unexpectedly set to sail Race Day One as planned. And a good day’s racing it turned out to be, wet at times and mostly actually in light winds but with squalls blowing through and at times half the fleet in sun and half fading into the fug of rain bands. 

Wary of an advised transition with the wind backing from northeast to northwest and strengthening to a possible 40 knots, a window had opened for a short, two hour, triangle race. Game on. It sure was, just laying a course in the 60-70°shifts, but the fleet was away, with the 29 yachts racing divided by three classes and starting in smaller groups.

“We were delighted to get a start and run a race”, says Race Office and Oyster CEO David Tydeman. 
“We did things race officers don’t normally do but it paid off. We started with a heavy pin end port bias in only 3-5 knots of wind but we decided to go ahead. More normally there might have been an abandonment but it’s all credit to the Oyster fleet that they wanted to go.”

And race through the window they did. Reading the many big wind shifts best and avoiding the holes, the top ten boats on corrected time spread nicely across all three classes while the back enders though spread more widely all finished within the allotted 60 minute time-limits, 56 minutes in Class 1, 53 in 2 and 60 in 3. 

In Class 1 Oyster 885 Lush with Eddie Jordan, family, friends and crack crew aboard powered faultlessly through the fleet consolidating a four minute corrected lead over Joe and Cathey Leitch’s new Oyster 725 On Liberty which fought a close battle with Oyster 82 Starry Night of the Caribbean, ending a tight 17 seconds ahead on corrected. On Liberty’s original challenge was with Infiniti of Cowes, Ken and Diana Randall’s Oyster 72, which unfortunately lost time with spinnaker issues on leg two of the four leg triangle rounding. On Liberty conversely scored well here with skipper Harry Blazeby poling out the assymetric’s tack, just as Starry Night is renowned for, to achieve a deeper more stable course.

Class 2 fell to the carbon rigged Oyster 625 Angel that simply flew around the course after breaking away from the six 625s all bunched in a less than helpful 2.5 knot start line breeze. Going for pressure and boat speed, Jeremy Robinson, calling the shots for Klaas Meertens, sailed through the fleet on a course pretty much then their own with not much boat on boat. The outcome’s in the result. Klaas continued his excellent winning form from the season’s earlier Palma SuperYacht Cup.

Rudolf Kaegi followed in 2nd ten minutes behind on his friends and family sailed 625 Flying Spirit, in turn six minutes ahead of similarly friends and family sailed 655 Meteorite, delighted with 3rd in the first race on the recently acquired ex Acheron, bound ultimately for the Oyster World Rally. Aboard it was great to see the three couples who’ll be making the trip working the boat well with the aid of previous skipper Brendan Hall and other sailing friends. The deck work was efficient, effective and certainly courteous, co-owner Hugh Bishop at the helm, in true Corinthian spirit, dipping his otherwise good start to allow 655 iSNL space where there was none on the pin. Meteorite’s smart, hardly used Elvstrom EPEX membrane racing sails then set well as she climbed higher away to the mark and then onto her podium spot followed by Simon Pillar driving Oyster 625 Tiger. While jostling for much of the while with Infiniti of Cowes, Meteorite made an excellent gain on 82 Starry Night on that final beat of the then shortened course, finishing just three minutes behind on corrected. Not a bad first showing.
 
In Class 3 two boats shone bright even through the overcast and squalls, Charles Billson’s Oyster 54 Sara Blue V and Peter Blackmore’s 49 Pied Piper, followed closely by Rory and Susie McGrath’s 53 Spindrift and Stephen Lambert’s 575 Atalanta. First things first, these four led the fleet by a mile deep into the final leg before Lush finally sailed through the tail three but didn’t manage to take Sara Blue V… and all four of these Class 3 came in ahead of all Class 1 on corrected. A real reflection of the Oyster regattas’ attraction. Beyond this in tough match racing Pied Piper and Spindrift (respectively 2nd and 3rd) crossed the same start and sailed hard closeby each other throughout to finish after almost two hours just two seconds apart. Atalanta sailed the next start and finished with an elapsed time only another seven seconds after Pied Piper. Stephen Lambert says, “It was fluky with tricky shifts in the final stages, we were pleased with our calling, and we got a good start, too. We’d been talking about the importance of staying close to the start line, nothing worse than the wind dropping and you being minutes away from the start.” 

And that’s exactly what happened to quite a few others.

Rounding off a day of great unpredictability, everyone later headed out of Palma for the certainty of a great evening’s dining and Raymarine and Pantaenius sponsored prize giving at the Sa Font Seca, a grand ancient olive press converted to exceptional social setting in the foothills of the Tramontana. A good night out before who knows what Race Day Two will bring – the forecast promises only one thing again, unpredictability, but a big blow looms and might point to an early start.

Written by Mike Owen
Images by Martinez Studio

01st October 2015

Race Day Two

The verdict is in… it has been a good day.

The skies had at last cleared and the wind, though light and variable, blew sufficiently for a challenging second day’s racing. While the 29 boat fleet prepared to leave the dock of the Real Club Náutico de Palma, the breeze had built to eight knots but with the still chilled, soaked land ashore precluding any strong sea breeze, the gradient wind, set to lighten later, gave the fleet its only opportunity. It was grasped and the earlier laid, more creative course was swapped for a double triangle and, with no time to reset, a biased start line again presented for some interesting line play from match race manoeuvres to sailing the line and tacking out on the gun, not forgetting of course simply storming the pin on port while others cavorted.

The fluky conditions and rolling shifts as yesterday set pressure chasing and boat speed as priority number one, and impressively the top ten boats all came in within around 13 minutes, both corrected and elapsed time. With the race though starting in eight to 11 knots and ending in two to three, the fleet was spread wide, the back enders taking the knock.

First in Class 3 (Oysters 49 to 575) again as yesterday went to an Oyster 54, today Hugh Johnson’s Nikitoo II taking also 1st overall across the fleet. Hugh’s home berth is in Levkas, Greece from where he’s en route to the start of the ARC+, and fully laden for the crossing, including filled tanks, stuffed lazarette and chain locker and, perhaps the most extraordinary Oyster customisation, an integrated 100 litre deck-filled rum tank. Yes, you read that right. So, such swift sailing today shows good tactics and chance improved, Hugh says, by absolutely minimising time losing tacks. That won him, his partner, sister and crew a beautiful, mounted golden Lewmar Winch and, like all of today’s Lewmar Race leaders, also a specially created pictorial trophy using Lewmar’s new in house glass-working technology.

Class 2’s winner Oyster 625 Great Bear V also sails fully loaded in cruising mode, with owner Graham Hetherington delighting in his team’s 1st today after yesterday which he describes as “… a day to forget! Today’s totally different, and all for Victoria and Harry who can’t be here.” They’ll then be pleased to know that team Great Bear V also romped home 2nd overall.

In Class 1 honours went to new boat on the dock Oyster 725 On Liberty with owner Cathey Leitch and daughter Amy on board to enjoy the family’s first win after many regatta visits aboard the original 575 On Liberty. “Fantastic day,” says Cathey, “So exciting and on such a beautiful day. First never happened before… and now. Wonderful!”  And it had been exciting, it was On Liberty that led the match race start Incident taking close rival Oyster 72 Infiniti of Cowes out and on beyond the pin then tucking back behind the line to speed out onto the beat with the inside lead. Skipper Harry Blazeby says, “Yes, it was a good tussle, I did shut them out, but we’re all friends. They pulled us up on the run but we managed to stay ahead. We had a really clean gybe but Infiniti got a little caught with another boat, and on the beat we kept reeling in but didn’t get Lush [Oyster 885].” On corrected, of course, they did, Lush settled in 3rd in class, 10th overall.

Second corrected went to Oyster 82 Starry Night of the Caribbean which sailed consistently well and as crew Steve Branagh says of the last beat, “We did well bouncing out left on the shifts making big gains”. The inner forestay gone for the regatta also of course helped faster tacks in these light winds.

Fifth placed Oyster 82 Bare Necessities, sailing with new owner Matt Newing and a mostly novice, eager crew of friends aboard, conversely suffers the restraint of her inner forestay and consequently slower tacking. But there’s a high on board with all the new experiences and keen learning under the good management of long term skipper Alex Drummond. The current racing really is also more about out-sailing the other similarly rigged 82s, Bill Mapstone’s Oofledust and Alan Parker’s Dama de Noche, which Alex and Matt have done so far, but Starry Night begins to loom larger in their sights. Bare Necessities is Matt’s first sailboat beyond windsurfing but an Oyster he’s long wanted, it’s just got bigger and bigger in the waiting while growing his businesses also.

In Class 2 behind Great Bear V, Richard Smith’s 655 Sotto Vento placed 2nd after a cracking start fully powered up on port right on the pin with the best start of the day at just two seconds off the gun. Even better was seeing Sotto Vento, so time-tight, squeezing inside the two other 655s, Meteorite and iSNL, caught in a duel on the line which left Meteorite forced over early to take a place penalty of 20 per cent. iSNL stayed on to take 3rd while Meteorite slipped back. Fourth went to Rudolf Kaegi’s 625 Flying Spirit, creating the perfect mix with the top four slots spread equally between 625s and 655s.

Class 3 saw the biggest reshuffling for second placing with Philip and Jane Wilson’s Oyster 575 centreboard Isabel rising five rungs on the ladder of success after a really great day’s sailing. Commissioned to join the 2017 Oyster World Rally, this is the couple’s first ever regatta, although they’ve raced a few Round the Island [Isle of Wight] races before, including this year, just one week after handover. With skipper James McDonald they then cruised down to the Med. The next step after Palma is away on the ARC and a Caribbean season. Today the sun shone on the team here. 

“Today was the nicest day’s sailing of all so far…” helped by getting some things just bang to rights, including calling mark room on 625 Angel and then, as tactician Mike Jones says “… nailing the gybe. One of the most enjoyable mark roundings ever… and 12 knots of breeze in glorious flat water!”

In a great turnaround, too, Tara, Hasip Gencer’s Oyster 56 took 3rd, jumping even more places, nine, sailing a tight and tidy two seconds corrected ahead of yesterday’s class winner Sara Blue V, Charles Billson’s Oyster 54, today 4th.

So come what may tomorrow, there’s much for everyone to play for and, given the right weather, with. Experience says forget the early forecast and go with our Guru who so far has played it right, helping the race team find the window each day. Word on the street is we’re in for two days of southerlies. We’ll see… tomorrow!

Written by Mike Owen
Images by Martinez Studio

02nd October 2015

Race Day Three

It’s all about the ‘morrow.

After a cracking good race today in a fair breeze that at last held, each of the three classes in the 29 boat fleet at the 2015 Oyster Regatta Palma has so far not one single clear winner. In Class 3 there’s nothing between the first three boats, with all on 7.75 points. In Class 2 the top two share 8.5 and in Class 1 the leading trio stand together at 5.75.  Only tomorrow’s final race will be the decider of just who takes home the trophies.

After two days of fickle light winds and shortened courses, the wind today built and stayed in as Oyster’s event weather guru predicted, the fleet all finishing in a 12 to 15 knot southerly. By a long shot the best wind of the week. The race ran close to three hours for most, laid on a course including a rounding of the Isla de Sech islet off the western shore of the bay through seas possibly more challenging than the wind, the early sloppy swell making it hard at times to maintain momentum. Keeping boat speed was key, working the waves and shifts. 

Staggered starts in small groups sorted by handicap again applied and, with a course alteration as the afternoon played out, Classes 1 and 2 went on to sail a 19 mile course while Class 3 was finished on 15 with Peter Blackmore’s Oyster 49 Pied Piper the clear winner despite blowing a spinnaker. Incredibly for a crew that’s not sailed together before this week, another was flying in just two minutes. “We’ve a pretty competitive crew,” says Peter, whose part local team also knew to sail right into the shore for the lifts. “Just 200m under the cliff, the sounder still read 47 metres!” A game played by other more bay-wise folk, too. “A good course and enjoyable,” says Peter, “a great day.”

Nikitoo II, Hugh Johnson’s Oyster 54, and yesterday’s victor, took 2nd slot. Response? “I can’t believe this!” He’d had his share of troubles, too, blowing a spinnaker halyard and dumping the kite in the water, taking a time and struggle to sort, made no easier, he says, by the fact that with a mixed English and Bulgarian crew there’s a problem with body signals. “Unfortunately in Bulgaria a British ‘nod’ means ‘no’ and a ‘shake’ means yes!” 

Third place went to Oyster 54 Sara Blue V who sailed a spectacular race with the shortest elapsed time by some seven minutes but unfortunately suffered a place penalty for crossing the line early after a forced manoeuvre. In the knock on, Rob van den Enden’s 54, similarly suffered crossing early taking a penalty, too. Sara Blue V then pulled away.  “Sailed like a dream,” says owner Charles Billson, “We’d stayed out on the beat to the island and didn’t risk anything on the reach. Took some height with the white sails after Sech then popped the kite on a good line with the mark. And we got boat speed up to 10 knots, that’s good in these conditions.”

The only boats out in front as they finished were Oyster 82 Starry Night of the Caribbean and 885 Lush who’d both sailed the extra four miles given Classes 1 and 2.

Fourth went to Stephen Lambert’s 575 Atalanta after a good course rounding impaired on the final leg home by the unfortunate obstructing movement of a vast Aida cruise liner after a perfect layline gybe that would have seen them home early… if only.

Starts in Class 2 are some of the closest contested, the 625s and 655s mixing and muscling it up, and today 1st placed, for the second day running,  Graham Hetherington’s Oyster 625 Great Bear V wrestled with the pro tactician led 625 Angel for position and won, getting the line they wanted to storm the beat to the top mark. Two crew down, and also with the time it takes to tack the cutter rig, they kept the tack count down on previous days and just got on with what had to be done and won.

Against apparent odds, Rudi Kaegi sailed his Oyster 625 Flying Spirit into 2nd despite a crew energy zapping spinnaker snuffer line struggle that went with them onto the beat and a drenched bouncing foredeck. But clearly much else went right.   

Oyster 625 Tiger, helmed daily by different members of the crew but led by Simon Pillar, sailed into the finish and 3rd place a close 30 seconds behind Flying Spirit and 90 behind Great Bear V, both on better angles and more speed, with Great Bear poled out, also. After the island, Tiger held to white sails as at 9.5 knots and almost hull speed there seemed little to gain until closer to the mark when they popped the kite.

Fourth went to 655 iSNL. Chris Walmsley aboard reports the starts as being very competitive among the 655s and today had to make a break and tack out but then came back into the others on a crowded top mark. “It was enjoyable sailing in a stronger breeze. We held our own for a while but couldn’t pull time back on the three leading 625s.”

Of the 655s, the Bishop/Smith Meteorite had to retire after the genoa blew. A half of the third couple who sail this boat together, Doug Williams had quickly to ascend the rig, “My first time up a mast at sea… and then we had a big motor boat coming from behind adding to the swell, too. All a very good learning curve for our Oyster World Rally,” he says of his time in the air. Good point. Crash hat and full harness are now on the shopping list.

The clash of the Titans and swapping of hats continues in Class 1, today Oyster 82 Starry Night won the start off 885 Lush in their two boat group, then taking the lead to the top mark and sailing pole squared sails on deeper angles than everyone else. It was their day, the only holdback a clustering of smaller boats dousing kites on the bottom mark as Starry Night approached at speed and decided to stay low to get clean air. Higher to weather than Starry Night, Lush managed a normal rounding and pulled ahead. The early slop also didn’t help, described as pretty gruesome with the wave angle knocking one tack’s 7.5 knots back to 4.8 on the other. 

Lush giving Starry Night time pulled a 2nd. Permanent skipper Tim Beebe reports, “We always have fun with Starry Night on the start line. Today they got the better of us. We tacked on Mark 1, got a good line, higher than everyone with Starry Night also lower than everyone. We kept right in close to the shore by the island and got a good few lifts. Then a lot of thinking about the kite. Didn’t seem to hold for everyone. But, fortune to the brave, we did about ten minutes from the mark. Kite up and 13.5 knots boat speed, surfing big waves. Every mark we’re thinking ‘Starry Night’. Our other nemesis is On Liberty.”

Tim explains also how Lush’s Eddie Jordan loves that only five of the 18 crew have raced together before, and to see the team developing, getting better and better. “He’s really into team building and loved today. And this boat’s fantastic to sail, especially upwind, the twin rudders really work. Hell of a day. Had enough breeze, just steaming along!”

So, in this mix, On Liberty, winning yesterday, took third today, and her own nemesis, Oyster 72 Infiniti of Cowes, fourth behind.

From the day’s full on racing, ruddy, red faced and ready for a ‘beer’, it was soon time also to head for the terraced battlements of the museo Es Baluard and a really rather stylish tented buffet, with, of course, a prize giving , today Dolphin Sails gifts and trophies for best placings. 
 
The discretionary daily Race Committee award went to Henrik Nyman and his crew aboard Oyster 625 Delicia in recognition of their not retiring in the face of sheer adversity, continuing instead to the bitter end of the extended course. Adversity? A whole series of setbacks starting with a Gordian riding turn taking 20 minutes to resolve, rolling into another winch blowing its electrics, and a spinnaker problem that seemed to drag his entire crew onto the foredeck leaving him alone at the helm with the boat about to gybe. “I felt very lonely at the back,” Henrik says, then with a grin, “but good friends always come back!” The final straw was the cruise liner that had kindly waited while the 655s and first 625s went through suddenly shifted and Henrik, kite flying on a perfect line, had nowhere to go, no option other than to bail and drop the kite. Ducking the Aida, neither easy nor quick, he still sailed the final two legs. Tenacity!

A special award also went to Bill Mapstone and Alan Parker, owners of 82s Oofledust and Dama de Noche, following their start line collision. Back in dock they met up with not a handshake but a hug. It could only happen at an Oyster regatta, particularly true with the hug repeated in front of the crowd at the prize giving! 

The real prize night though comes after the next and final race, the race deciding the overall winners in each of the three classes at the 2015 Oyster Regatta Palma. Similar wind is forecast, will it appear? We’ll see.

Written by Mike Owen
Images by Martinez Studio

03rd October 2015

Race Day Four

What a week, a great few days’ racing at the 2015 Oyster Regatta Palma ending with everyone sailing away with something among the long list of trophies, prizes and good memories. The weather’s been fickle but the racing good, on every level, from first time to feisty, all sailing the same course with respect and safe regard to the mixed experience and abilities in the 29 boat fleet.

Saturday, the last day of racing, sadly did not deliver sufficient breeze to hoist a start pennant, unfortunate given that another race round the bay might have broken the ties at the top of each of the three classes. But sailors always have a way to unknot a tie, and at the final night’s prize giving at the Cap Rocat hotel, an awe inspiring shoreside, converted and contemporised, monumentally built historic fortress, the winners were awarded their booty using the Countback process that prioritises the sequence of scores. But first, roof terrace welcoming drinks and a stunning view of Palma Bay’s full panorama sailed in the week and now seen sunset-painted in true perspective.

“We’ve had a great time running this regatta for you all,” says Oyster CEO and Race Officer David Tydeman, “and we’re pleased this year to have more first timers and family boats. I feel we’ve all recreated the real spirit, the original principal of this regatta which had started to become a little too focused on winning!” 

So, in Corinthian mood, straight to the Race Officer’s discretionary awards, Spirit of the Regatta went to first time attendee Meteorite (Oyster 655 – Smith/Bishop families preparing for Oyster World Rally 2017 [OWR])  and Tenacity prizes to Ostra (Oyster 53 – Ritchie Gatt), Talaba (Oyster 54 – Rob van den Enden, and preparing for OWR) and Venture (Oyster 53 – Nigel Betts, first time racing, also preparing for OWR – In all there are now 39 Oysters signed for the OWR).

With the fleet reflecting a span of full four generations, and you can’t get more ‘family’ orientated than that, the age difference from youngest to oldest is 80 years. The youngest, five year-old Sienna from Britican, Simon and Kim Brown’s Oyster 56, sweetly came forward when invited and received gifts to take back on board to her travelling home. Parent Kim reports Sienna the best course mark spotter aboard. Well done, Sienna! Continuing the theme, and although we’re not sure about disclosing real identities this time but will, the award for oldest averaged age boat went to Boarding Pass III (Oyster 575 – Bill Munro – with apologies to Susan who we know is doing her best to bring the average down!). Finally, for Class of Their Own, or more precisely having one day sailed their own single boat start, Bare Necessities (Oyster 82 – Matt Newing, new owner of this iconic 82).

As Oyster is renowned for its Customer Care Service, it’s always fun to run the Concours d’Elegance as it could be called ‘Customers’ Care’! Anyway, it is actually rather tricky as judgement has to include consideration of age, new to a decade and more, and pro-crewed or not. The team, though, resisting the efforts to sway favour, the cockpits dressed with open champagne and flutes for sampling or chilled beers for better contemplation, settled on Class 3’s Isabel (Oyster 575 – Philip and Jane Wilson – and preparing for OWR), Class 2’s Great Bear V (Oyster 625 – Graham Hetherington – also 2014 winner) and Class 1’s Dama de Noche (Oyster 82 – Alan Parker). Keep it up, more power to the elbow!

To the matter of racing and the untying of winners, in Class 2 there was a tie of 13 points across fourth and fifth. To explain the Countback process, across the three races Tiger scored 4,6,3. iSNL placed 6,3,4. So both placed a 3, a 4, a 6. Identical placings cancel out. If one higher placing remains, that identifies the winner. Here there is no difference, so the overall result rests on the last race. Not as confusing as it sounds. Tiger’s 3rd in the last race is a higher placing than iSNL’s 4th in the same last race. Hence Tiger (Oyster 625 – Simon Pillar) won the tie to take 4th overall in Class. Third went to Sotto Vento (Oyster 655 – Richard Smith – 5,2,5), then with just half a point between them, 2nd went to Great Bear V (Oyster 625 – Graham Hetherington – 7,1,1) and 1st to Flying Spirit (Oyster 625 – Rudolf Kaegi – 2,4,2).

In Class 3 a tie bound all three top boats, with 7.75 points (that’s 0.75 for a first placing, and one additional point for each subsequent descending placing). Again, outcome rested on the last race. In 1st, and great to see her back, Pied Piper (Oyster 49 – Peter Blackmore – 2,5,1 – “Unbelievable, fabulous time, we’ll be back next year!”), 2nd Nikitoo II (Oyster 54 – Hugh Johnson – 5,1,2), 3rd Sara Blue V (Oyster 54 – Charles Billson – 1,4,3), 4th Isabel (Oyster 54 – Philip and Jane Wilson – 7,2,5). 

Finally, and similarly with the top three tied, Class 1 with 1st Starry Night of the Caribbean (Oyster 82 – 3,2,1), 2nd Lush (Oyster 885 – Eddie Jordan – 1,3,2 – “Full marks to Starry Night, we’ll be gunning for them in the future!”, 3rd On Liberty (Oyster 725 – Joe and Cathey Leitch – 2,1,3), 4th Infiniti of Cowes (Oyster 72 – Ken and Diana Randall, 4,4,4).

Thanks go, of course, to all who took part, to the Real Club Náutico de Palma which kindly made us so welcome again and gifted wine to each yacht and gilet jackets as Race Officer prizes, and to our generous sponsors, not just suppliers but delivery partners in the Oyster way, here supporting this event and providing trophies, prizes and more. Raymarine for Race Day One, Lewmar Race Day Two and Pantaenius for the Dockside Drinks party, Dolphin Sails Race Day Three, and Pelagos Yachts Race Day Four, these last trophies, in the light of the final day’s race cancellation, included in the grand finale awards. Pantaenius also kindly sponsored the daily Best in Class Start awards, a rare Scandinavian rum to slate nine thirsts!

But that was for later, on this final evening, it was high ‘spirits’ of another kind, the volume rising and dinner switching to dancing with port and starboards around tables and dance floor clearly forgotten and forgiven with all bumps and bangs sorted, just as on the course, with a ‘sorry’ and sometimes a hug!

We hope to see you all at our next Oyster regatta, in April in Antigua, or Palma again in October… between times, fair winds, good sailing!

Written by Mike Owen
Images by Martinez Studio

class 1 overall results
yacht namemodelowner/skipperRace 1 PointsRace 2 PointsRace 3 PointsTotal Points
Starry Night of the Caribbean82/14Starry Yachts Ltd3.002.000.755.75
Lush885/01Eddie Jordan0.753.002.005.75
On Liberty725/03Joe & Cathey Leitch2.000.753.005.75
Infiniti of Cowes72/12AKen & Diane Randall4.004.004.0012.00
Bare Necessities82/01Matt Newing5.005.005.0015.00
Dama de Noche82/09Alan Parker7.006.008.0021.00
Oofledust82/17Bill Mapstone6.007.008.0021.00
class 2 overall results
yacht namemodelowner/skipperRace 1 PointsRace 2 PointsRace 3 PointsTotal Points
Flying Spirit625/07Rudolf Kaegi2.004.002.008.00
Great Bear V625/08Graham Hetherington7.000.750.758.50
Sotto Vento655/07Richard Smith5.002.005.0012.00
Tiger625/04Simon Pillar4.006.003.0013.00
iSNL655/11Cascina Int Ltd6.003.004.0013.00
Angel625/03Klaas Meertens0.757.0010.0017.75
Delicia625/09Henrik Nyman8.005.006.0019.00
Meteorite655/02Debbie Smith3.0010.0010.0010.00
Alpha Eden Island625/12aTinus Slabber10.0010.0010.0030.00
class 3 overall results
yacht namemodelowner/skipperRace 1 PointsRace 2 PointsRace 3 PointsTotal Points
Pied Piper49/12APeter Blackmore2.005.000.757.75
Nikitoo II54/19Hugh Johnson5.000.752.007.75
Sara Blue V54/11Charles Billson0.754.003.007.75
Isabel575/30Phillip Wilson7.002.005.0014.00
Atalanta575/22Stephen Lambert4.008.004.0016.00
Spindrift53/24Rory & Susie McGrath3.006.008.0017.00
Britican56/32Simon Brown6.007.009.0022.00
Boarding Pass III575/04Bill Munro10.0010.006.0026.00
Ostra53/23Richie Gatt8.0011.007.0026.00
Tara56/68Hasip Gencer12.003.0014.0029.00
Distraction53/50Simon Tysoe11.009.0010.0030.00
Talaba54/18Rob v.d. Enden9.0013.0012.0034.00
Venture53/48Nigel Betts13.0014.0011.0038.00

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