29 September - 03 October 2014

Oyster Regatta Palma 2014

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01st October 2014


Some had arrived days before, crew mustering and practising drills. Others arrived just in time post haste from challenging deliveries frustrated by weather set against them. But come this registration day, Palma delivered as the thunderclouds withdrew to leave the sun shining down on the fleet of 26 boats from 11 nations gathered for the Oyster Regatta Palma 2014. And at the quayside around the host Real Club Nautico de Palma (RCNP), boats were tidied and shined ready for the afternoon’s Concours d’Elegance, and glasses clinked among friends catching up.

Ahead of the four days of racing, as ever at this 10th edition of the Palma regatta, the fleet mix fascinates with every level of skill and experience on parade: first time racers, world trophy holders, always a test for the organisers as well as the sailors to ensure safety and a good time for all.  And time after time that’s what’s achieved at the Oyster regattas… along with the chance, of course, to see what happens when you really do rise to the challenge!

Serial attendees include the ever green, or should that be deep space blue, Oyster 82 Starry Night of the Caribbean which has missed not one regatta, and similarly John Marshall on Rock Oyster, a name long seen on an Oyster 56 but now on the transom of his newly bought 655, formerly Anabasis. Two newer siblings, the 885/02 Karibu and Sir Frank Chapman’s /03 Clare, may not have that same depth of regatta history but they have sailed every one time has allowed, their two differently configured and featured rigs, and ultimate aims, leading to an interesting test in handicapping.  Sharing that same section of the quay is newcomer Reina, the first Oyster 825 off the line, ready to race after a busy, high mileage first season. 

With this Oyster’s 34th own brand regatta, one boat that sailed the inaugural Oyster event in Antigua in 2001, and now back at a regatta for the first time since, having sailed perhaps more miles than any other single Oyster between any two such regattas, is Dennis and Janet Knight’s Oyster 435 Shilling of Hamble. They sailed away in 1999 and all these years on they’ve covered more than 50,000 miles, sampled almost all our oceans and still the boat’s not been home. Here socially only, not racing, Janet proudly still sports a unique carved whale’s tooth oyster pendant the pair scooped at their first and last Oyster regatta. Shilling will be heading home next year, the boat’s done them fantastically they say “…and the word really is your Oyster, but take your time!”

Since those early regattas there’s been much change, of course. The fleet and boats are bigger and a step up in technology enables so much more, but still when you bite the challenge, the bug can bite back, as Rory and Susie McGrath on Oyster 53 Spindrift discovered after their first ever regatta at Palma last year. “We enjoyed it so much we’re back… and we’re serious,” says Rory, “we’ve even got new sails!” They like many also have a few extra, eager, helping hands!

Other newcomers include Neil and Sue Speed aboard their recently acquired Oyster 45 Yo Ho Ho of Sark, a boat well known to the Oyster family having cruised extensively both hot and cold climes in former ownership, and now ready for new adventures. 

Among the brand new is Tinus Slabber’s 625/12a Alpha Eden Island which sits in the single biggest boat grouping in the fleet, there being an impressive eight 625s including regatta regulars 625/03 and /05 Guardian Angel and Lady Mariposa, the latter with skipper Dan Hardy reporting new sails, too, this time. Simon Pillar’s 625/04 Tiger slides in between the two to show her stripes, challenging also Vamos /06, Flying Spirit /07, Great Bear V /08 and Delicia /09 who sailed her first regatta in Antigua earlier this year.

In the fleet, incredibly, the Dubois drawn 100 Penelope and Yo Ho Ho of Sark from Holman & Pye are the only two boats racing not built to Rob Humphreys designs. That’s 24 of 26 boats and nine designs. As Oyster CEO David Tydeman said at the evening’s Welcome cocktail party on the terrace at the Es Baluard Museu d’art Modern with its spectacular illuminated night time view of the harbour, bay and hillside castle: “This, the 34th of our Oyster Regattas, really is a tribute to Rob who we started working with in 1998, and the 675 we’ve just announced is the 18th design in this great working partnership our Oyster design team has with Rob.” 

“18th?” quizzed one guest, “Better head for the 19th,” joshed one guest as glasses refilled. 

So, prepared and now partied, Day 2 dawns to bring the first day’s racing, with hopefully the better changed weather system continuing today’s sun and building breeze. The forecast indicates a fair gradient wind from the NNE. Will it stay, will it go? The three racing classes divided by boat size – Class III Oyster 45 to 575, Class II 625 to 655, and Class I 82 to 100 – will be the ones to know and the ones to rise to the challenge!

Written by Mike Owen
Images by Martinez Studio

02nd October 2014

Race Day One

As crews busied around in final prep for the first day’s racing in the Oyster Regatta Palma 2014, some were already out in the bay testing conditions and feeding back good news. What seemed only a light breeze in the Real Club Nautico de Palma dock was already blowing between 13 and 17 knots outside. Race Officer, Oyster CEO, David Tydeman in his start-of-day fleet call proposed two races if the NE gradient breeze held. More than just hold, it built, peaking around 18knots, giving good racing morning and afternoon to the eager 26 Oysters spanning 45 to 100ft (14-33m), split between three classes, each with its own staggered two starts.

At the top of the fleet in Class 1 there was, as David Tydeman describes it: “A good battle between Reina (Oyster 825/01) and Karibu (885/02) swapping first places. The wild card was Oyster 82 Starry Night of the Caribbean, sailed very well, and just pipping Karibu into second place in the first race by 10 seconds.”

Class 2 was very close also between Guardian Angel and Lady Mariposa, the hot shot 625s /03 and /05 with their fully battened mains and carbon rigs making a bigger difference here in Palma’s flat tactical waters than in the bigger Caribbean seas of the Antigua regatta where Vamos and other 625s were swapping places among them. Vamos held on well again today, pulling a third in Race One behind Guardian Angel first, Lady Mariposa second, that pair then going on to finish in the same order just two seconds apart in Race Two. In Class 3 the tactical choice of going ‘white sails’ rather than ‘colour’ gave some interesting results, particularly for Judy and Max Morrison aboard Oyster 575 Silver Lining who called well with ‘white’ for both races, placing second in both in their first ever regatta.

The morning’s race was a simple 10 mile triangle with Class 3 the first across the line with its blend of novice and not so frequent to regular battlers chivvying around the course, Race One mostly colour sails, Race Two the converse, with generally a deal of learning that led to smoother deck work and sail handling in the afternoon and consequent virtual top and bottom half swap. Rory and Susie MacGrath of Oyster 53 Spindrift enjoyed the fruits of their newly found racing resolve pulling first in Race One, while in Race Two it was the oldest boat in the fleet, Oyster 45 Yo Ho Ho of Sark’s turn giving new owners Neil and Sue Speed victory on their very first day of sailing their new charge… yes, you read that right, their first day of sailing, and they’d never raced before either. Poignantly, they have experienced, big-boat hands Nick and Lou Sutton aboard who sailed far and wide with the previous owners Stephen and Alison Yeo including their very first Atlantic crossing in 1996 when they’d just bought the boat new. 

In a really good showing of Oyster’s family sailing DNA, Oyster 46 SUNsuSEA had three generations of the Kierebinski family aboard, everyone having active responsibilities, including daughter, aka grand daughter, Klaudia driving off the quay, grandfather Jacek on main sheet, and co-skippers Mariusz and Paulina supported by son Marcin and step-brother Peter, new to sailing who yet turned his hand to stripping down and replacing rope jammers just before leaving dock. 

Their Race One was unfortunately effectively surrendered to spinnaker snuffer troubles, but Race Two under white sails saw a climb back to a happier fourth.  

Mariusz and Paulina have sailed SUNsuSEA, their first owned boat, extensively both sides of the Atlantic since sailing her straight from the factory to the Canaries and the ARC in 2009, enjoying the Caribbean for two years before returning east, stopping in the Canaries for two more years before shooting back into the Med last year. Racing though has not featured other than the Oyster Grenada and BVI regattas, last in 2011. As Paulina says: “Three years past, good memories, but a long time ago!” To which Mariusz wryly adds: “At least we weren’t at the back of both races – we’re slowly moving forward!”

In Class 2 as already said there’s an extraordinary tussle at the top between those two fliers Guardian Angel and Lady Mariposa, with Guardian Angel’s Maxim Kudryashov reflecting that the higher winds as today suit him better and he likes the way the fleet is becoming “more competitive, more challenging” but that there’s still a “kind” approach, with particular mention to Class 1’s Oyster 100 Penelope and 885-02 Karibu.

Guardian Angel took both her races but Lady Mariposa gave serious contention while watching 625 Vamos closely too. “Vamos is the dark horse,” says Lady Mariposa’s skipper Dan Hardy, “she’s been poling out A sails, diving a bit deeper… we’re seeing a lot more of her.” This is Vamos owners David and Joanne Furby’s third Oyster regatta after two in the Caribbean where they’ve had a good time. So watch this space.

New 625 Tiger owner Simon Pillar also pulled a blinder. A complete rookie racer who took delivery of the boat only in April, he notched a remarkable third in Race Two, 69 seconds ahead of Vamos. Simon has his brothers Tim and Nick aboard and not only was this for all of them their first day’s racing, it’s the first time they’ve ever sailed together. There’s another Tim on board, too, so to avert disaster they’re careful not to call “Dump it, Tim” when both are on sheets! Of their day and the sense of regatta, Simon declares: “Fantastic, no other word, a great, great day. To class race boats like this, there’s nothing to beat it.”

Class 1 with its big boats getting ever bigger is always good value on the water and this year with the arrival of Reina, the first 825 off the line, it’s been given a pep of a different new order. The latest completed Humphreys/Oyster collaboration, Reina is really proving a top line performer in this, her first regatta. 

Sailing to an already excellent second and third behind Reina in the day’s two races, Steve Branagh aboard regatta stalwart 82 Starry Night of the Caribbean reported Reina: “A very quick boat, no doubt about it.” And pulling that first and then a second, effectively out-sailing 885s in three of four chances today, her owner’s unsurprisingly of much the same sentiment. Reina skipper Jarrod Cripps says of the owner’s reaction: “Absolutely chuffed, it’s been a long journey and he says he’s now seen what’s possible, it’s opening a whole new world. I’ve been with the boat since blueprints and as we finished I said thank you, Reina, I’m just so pleased.”

With such a good first day’s racing for the entire fleet, and an extra race already under the collective belt, it was then coach loads of smiling faces all the way to the city’s commanding iconic, exquisitely renovated 13th century hillside Castillo Bellver for a relaxed prize giving and evening of terrific contemporary gypsy music and dance under the wide open circular roof of this extraordinary stone fortress… another Oyster first. 

With daily prizes for each class’s top four, David Tydeman thanked Raymarine and Lewmar for their kind sponsorship of the day’s races and also Pantaneus for start line-merit prizes, too. The forecast for race Day Two looks to be north easterly again but a little lighter. We’ll see!

Written by Mike Owen
Images by Martinez Studio

03rd October 2014

Race Day Two

With a glance at the forecast before the start of the Oyster Regatta Palma 2014, the faint hearted might have tutted and raised eyes upwards beseeching at least sailable winds. But as so often in Palma, fact has been better than forecast. Race Day One came up trumps with two of the series’ sought five races completed in middle breezes, and today, Race Day Two, a patchy but practical north-easterly secured a further double with at day’s end four races now in the bag, leaving just one more to grab for the chance of a discard before settling this lively match playing out between the 26-boat fleet.

“It was a tough day,” said Race Officer David Tydeman, Oyster’s CEO, “two challenging races, the first in the lighter morning wind short with no time for mistakes, and then a  longer more complex course in the afternoon with time for it to go either way.”

That mix of races introduced a mix also into the results, defining winners and losers whether on the right or wrong side of the shifts, and now results in all three classes (split by boat size: Class 3 Oyster 45 to 575, Class 2 625 to 655, and Class 1 82 to 100)  rests on tomorrow’s race. Perfect in regatta terms, suspense right to the end.

Out on the committee boat suspense and intake of breath came fast, though, today, as David Tydeman reported: “After the Pantaenius Insurance prizes last night for good starts, oh boy, was it taken to the limit with in the morning’s race three Class 2 boats hitting the line all within three seconds, Oyster 625 Flying Spirit first across, just one second off, and in Class 1 the new 825 Reina four seconds free.”

The afternoon race four then saw Oyster 53 Spindrift cut the line tight for Class 3 while Flying Spirit led Class 2 again just one second short of the line, with on the next start Class 1’s Reina bursting through a hard fought positioning squabble with Starry Night of the Caribbean to squeeze a tight slot and a quick-fire two seconds to spare. Impressive all, and aggression’s not at all bad when practised well!

Talking with crew on Oyster 575 Boarding Pass III, the day sounded to have played out quite fairly, thinking the morning went ok and, though missing a few calls, better than the afternoon, particularly when the wind fell and kites for some stalled on the last reach before the final leg home. A pleasant surprise then when at the evening’s party at the hosting Real Club Nautico de Palma, owners Bill Munro and Susan Harris picked up the trophy for first in this Pelagos sponsored race. Behind in second, having picked up pace and forging a good lead for a very considerable chunk of the race was Paulina and Mariusz Kierebinski’s Oyster 46 SUNsuSEA, which for those not getting it, is a disguised French Sans-souci – carefree! 

In Class 2, as yesterday, in both races the two 625s Lady Mariposa and Guardian Angel took first and second, each now having taken daily double firsts, and with in the first race today Lady Mariposa crossing the line just 30 seconds ahead before in the afternoon sailing a stunning race pulling a full 12 minutes corrected on Guardian Angel. Back to the morning, though 655 iSNL, formerly Black Pearl, took third while John Marshall enjoyed sailing his newly brokered Rock Oyster, a 655 also, into fourth place.

In Class 1, 825 Reina though taking line honours ended fourth also on corrected just eight seconds behind 885 Karibu in third while 82 Starry Night of the Caribbean pulled into second and Sir Frank Chapman on 885 Clare scooped top spot, later beaming as he collected his Dolphin Sails sponsored swag at the evening presentation. 

In the afternoon, on-the-ball calls and really sweet work swung fortunes with Reina this time the clear winner not just one the water, a full 4-minutes-44 corrected in front of second placed Karibu. Cutting a swathe through the smaller boats advance party she sure turned heads and in some instances looked straight down on haircuts from her neatly laid overtaking lanes and tight mark turns. Clare this time came in third, while between fourth-placed Oyster 100 Penelope and Starry Night in fifth, just 12 seconds settled scores.

Behind Lady Mariposa’s and Guardian Angel’s irrevocable hold on Class 2, David and Joanne Furby sailed their, also 625, Vamos into a worthy third just 70 seconds behind. 

Sailing an absolute blinder in Class 3 after a closely grouped start, Rory and Susie McGrath soon had to look hard and far behind from their 53 Spindrift for the rest of their class. Growing their lead over even other classes, at mark four of five they were incredibly third of full-fleet to round, ahead even of 885s Karibu and Clare.  Quite something after more than an hour of racing. As the crew later said, “Yep, we got some things right, particularly preparation. So many seem to wait to hoist until after the mark, we were clew tight and hoisting as we rounded, that’s maybe five boat lengths every time.” 

That of course doesn’t account for everything but the effect is clear. However, avoiding those hoists completely, and still faring incredibly well, Class 3 colleague, the new-build 575 Silver Lining, might tempt some study. Judy and Max Morrison have sailed just two and a half months with her, though that does include 3000 miles straight from commissioning in Ipswich and then around the Med a while. Yet they have never raced anything other than in Max’s very early dinghy years, and are consistently placing well. Second this afternoon, third this morning, and two seconds yesterday, and all this on white sails only every time. The principle? As Max and Judy explain: “It’s simpler… and we take long tacks. It takes a minute or more to tack and get going again properly and that’s a lot of boat lengths lost, so keep on going!” Max does confess though that those dinghy days seem to have left a good trace of what feels right and wrong. Whatever… seems to work!

It also demonstrates the wide take on the virtues and variety of Oyster sailing portrayed by the spread and wealth of experience within the fleet here.  And this will again be put to the test tomorrow for the fifth and last race in the series, with the outcome of that and the discard it enables settling just who will be the Oyster champions in Palma this year. In Class 1 there’s just one quarter of a point between Reina, currently first, and Karibu, second, while in Class 2 there’s nothing at all between Guardian Angel and Lady Mariposa, they’re neck and neck. In Class 3 a bigger three and a half a points divides one and two, with, yes, the newbie Silver Lining currently front runner.

But series over that’ll still not be the end of it. If the weather holds, a final pursuit race is planned for a fourth day of racing on Saturday with ratings reworked to reflect the week’s actual sailing stats. And first boat home wins… first though there’s tomorrow!

Written by Mike Owen
Images by Martinez Studio

04th October 2014

Race Day Three

With four good races already scored, the chance to run today’s fifth and final series-race of the Oyster Regatta Palma 2014 proved a lucky break for those looking for a discard or qualifier. It was also the most challenging with patchy winds and big shifts made massive when black clouds and lightning entered stage left at the end. 

At the top of Class 2 the two equal placing, carbon-rigged 625s Lady Mariposa and Guardian Angel needed this fifth race more than any others. Each knowing control of the other on the line was necessary, they played a cool match race pre-start but intent on the challenge their port crossing of the line tangled with a third contender and threated to stall their breakaway. But they ducked and away they went, Lady Mariposa leading the charge. 

Dropping on the beat she tacked to the left, got the better height and boat speed and started to roll Guardian Angel. Tacking back onto port they had for a while two non-carbon 625s on top of them as the other 625s had started ahead, before tacking to lay the windward mark, which Guardian Angel rounded first.  A jostle continued until the second beat when Lady Mariposa pulled ten or so boat lengths. “The next downwind leg was really tough,” says Lady Mariposa’s skipper, Dan Hardy, “the boats behind had pressure but we got stuck in gaps, Guardian Angel pulled up and Vamos started gaining. Then we got pressure and a nice rounding with a late drop.”

From here it was the upwind bash toward the last turning mark… and suddenly doubts. “We saw the committee boat driving off [across the top of course] and had no idea what was happening. Our radio had been knocked off so we didn’t know the course had changed!” And it had, in response to the fast changing weather the finish line moved 0.5 mile to mark 5, due to the 70 degree wind shift in the rain storm and to provide a fairer end to the race. They hadn’t heard the shout. With VHF back on, a quick call to the Committee Boat ended their race. Lady Mariposa had already crossed the finish line, and on corrected time 49 seconds ahead of Guardian Angel.

David and Joanne Furby’s 625 Vamos followed in to claim third with Henrik Nyman’s 625 Delicia in fourth just 28 corrected-seconds later. Graham and Victoria Heatherington took fifth with their 625 Great Bear V, sailing in reportedly very well organised manner and showing some deft poling of the asymmetric to sail deeper.

Sailing deep in Class 1 also drives the double-headed Oyster 82 Starry Night of the Caribbean’s downwind practice of very effective poling of their twin headsails. With massive payload of wine cellar and washing machines, upwind she’s not quite such a flyer but today the brains trust including Rob Humphreys who’s designed 24 of this 26 boat fleet, including Starry Night, joined Chris Mason and David Allan-Wiliams, and they called it right. As David says: “We were in a position where we didn’t need to be first on the line, just more in a good position to go right. We do struggle a bit upwind so our modus operandi is not to tack too often, but we held Reina [the new Oyster 825] upwind. Taking the rhumb line downwind, then chasing the procession reaching across, we did have to apologise to a few for the blanketing, and then on the second beat we hung on far left, with Reina going right and losing all her gain.”

When she left dock for the start, Reina was head of class with a quarter point lead and all to play for, but this wasn’t her day. Some say yacht racing is the most difficult sport in the world. Neil Mackley of North Sails aboard Reina said that just the day before. They and he are right. There’s nothing predictable in this game: wind, waves, bumps, bangs, breaks, you name it, nothing is ever the same. 

“We just fell in a hole and watched them sail away on the other side of the course,” says Reina’s skipper, Jarrod Cripps, “but, hey, that’s yacht racing, you can’t do anything about it, it’s mother nature. We’re not troubled, it would have been good to win, but we’ve sailed fast this week, we know this boat goes really well, and this is our first regatta, and it’s been a really great one! I’ve been with this boat from blueprint and to see what she’s achieved and is capable of is just fantastic.”

Reina’s challenge had been to top the more race-optimised 885 Karibu whose crew, tongue in cheek or determined to crack that psychological quarter-point hangover, charged out of harbour early with the Pirates of the Caribbean music blaring loud.

Olympian Jesper Bank, tactician aboard Karibu, says: “It was obvious we needed a win, to sail well, also to sail our own race rather than what the competition might be doing. The second beat made our race, the final nail in the coffin, we were first to tack off to the right and had 20° on Reina, then we went all the way through to far left, today very different to yesterday when right was best. We kept seeing more and more pressure. We were just in that position where we could see to the left and react.” And react they did, crashing the finish line way ahead with almost three and a half minutes in the bag. 

Second behind on corrected was Starry Night of the Caribbean who took a massive header under the storm cloud that turned the last stroll to the line into a challenging climb. Then came Sir Frank Chapman’s 885 Clare with Reina accepting fourth.

Class 3 saw a surprise turnaround also with yesterday’s rising star Spindrift, Rory and Susie McGrath’s Oyster 53 suffering similarly to Reina, falling way back, while Oyster 46 SUNsuSEA with the three generation Kierebinski family alone and no borrowed hands scooped first after a cracking start and a solid attack throughout. “We got a good, nice start,” said Paulina who mostly drives, “I think just three or so seconds off, and then we sailed past lots on the reach.” At the start of the regatta Mariusz wryly commented they were slowly getting better. For any new racer, first to eighth in five races would seem to confirm that! 

“We’ve been getting better results, I think particularly downwind,” they say. “Also the thunderstorm helped, more wind and now no need to tack the last two miles… very, very pleased!” 

Second fell to Neil and Sue Speed’s Oyster 45 Yo Ho Ho of Sark with the help of seasoned friends, third to Bill Munro and Susan Harris of the 54 Boarding Pass III, and fourth to Judy and Max Morrison on Silver Lining.

With more than three hours on the water for most, the post-race Happy Hour drinks and presentation hosted by Palma Watch Yacht Service and Yacht Repair slipped down well as did the prizes from the day’s race sponsor Dolphin Sails / Sailkote.

The series results will be announced at the regatta’s closing prize-giving dinner on Saturday evening at the spectacular Cap Rocat… after, wind permitting, a bonus race… a grand pursuit chase out in the bay. What a way to end a week of great sailing and great company. That’s tomorrow!

Written by Mike Owen
Images by Martinez Studio

05th October 2014

Race Day Four

Saturday, the final race and party day of the Oyster Regatta Palma 2014, and with the five-race series already in the bag hopes for a bonus pursuit race hung on a… zephyr. Those lucky, early gradient winds of the week looked to have blown out. But a wilful lot, the Oyster race team urged the fleet to come out and wait in the bay, ready to race if the sea breeze came in. And slowly it did. The cumulus built above the Tramuntana hills. The planes changed take-off from inshore to offshore, and with six knots the call went out, “race on”. 

In the still hot morning, attrition had hit with a few ducking out for a swim instead, then a rallying call from Judy and Max Morrison on Oyster 575 Silver Lining brought a waivering five back in and the pursuit fleet settled at a mixed 17 with starting times of each boat based not on handicap but on actual individual performance, the elapsed times during the week. That way lies a fairer, better grouped end of race – which is after all the aim of pursuit racing.

The target was a 90 minute race for the smaller yachts, and to attempt the near equal ending, the first and last of fleet started with 31 minutes and all the other boats stepped between them: the first boat Oyster 46 Lazy Tern, the last boat 885 Karibu and the middle boat Oyster 625 Tiger. And so it went. From the deck of the 825 Reina starting last but one, the fleet sailed off ahead. Most starts were individual with a focused chase on the transom dead ahead and then the next. The course was a simple triangle, extended as the breeze built to 11 with gusts to 13 with the start and finish reaching legs. So kites flew from word go and on one of the two paired starts, a luffing match immediately ensued. John Marshall’s 655 Rock Oyster and Henrik Nyman’s 625 Delicia ended 15 seconds apart, in that order. 

The course was a simple triangle with a reaching start and on the beat generally more pressure offshore than in. From the deck of 825 Reina, last but one to start, the targets to reel in stretched forward and the race was on, her legacy Class 1 rivals Oyster 82 Starry Night eight minutes ahead, 885-03 Clare two, and 885-02 Karibu one minute behind, and then knocked back further by a top-down furler failure on their code sail leaving them bare headed for minutes. 

Eyes and minds moved forward. Starry Night, with regular regatta crew 83-year-old Peter Hetherington (uncle of Graham Hetherington of fourth placed 625 Great Bear V) steering the entire course, was taken by Reina just after the final turn but Clare stayed ahead and finished third. Crossing before her were Charles Billson’s Oyster 54 Sara Blue, and in the very front placing first, Judy and Max Morrison on that rallying 575 Silver Lining. From swimming to winning… they made the right call as they did with their white sails downwind. Novice racers but with helpful folk aboard, including the permanent crew of Oyster 655 Proteus, Max does the driving and he and Judy both work on tactics too. “We’ve never followed the crowd, even in business, and we’ve done the same here. Today on one tack we took a big risk and went inshore and stormed past boats. After the final turn we were so far ahead we thought we’d done something wrong!”

They hadn’t, they’d completely out-sailed their class and next boat was 96 seconds behind. Reina had ended sandwiched by 655 iSNL (fifth) and 625 Tiger (seventh), helmed by brothers Simon, Tim and Nick. 

As David Tydeman, race officer and Oyster CEO, says: “It was good close sailing, all boats finishing within 10 minutes. You can lose 10 minutes through just tactics on a beat, so when you’ve three miles beating, you’ve plenty of time to separate.”

With the last boat crossing the line, the Oyster Regatta Palma 2014’s racing had come to an end, but what a week, four days with six good races, with conditions in no two races alike.

In celebration the Oyster party set course for the far side of the bay, by road this time, to the prize presentation and dinner at Cap Rocat, a simply awe inspiring transformation to boutique hotel of a former military fort of immense antiquarian stone block structure now blended in that clever Mallorcan conservational architecture with glass and steel and ancient timbers, all on a huge scale. Drawbridge, trenches, flaming torches, it’s monumental yet through the portal so private, so personal, a perfect proposition to Oyster regattistes! 

The evening passage from terrace glass-chinking and canapés through dinner to dancing was of course via prize awards. 

In the Concours d’elegance the Class 3 award went to Sara Blue V (Oyster 54 – Charles Billson), Class 2 to Great Bear V (625 – Graham and Victoria Hetherington), Class 1 Penelope (Oyster 100).

Overall in the series, with five races, four to count, in the words of David Tydeman: “In Class 3 such close sailing has not been seen before, with the first five boats all within 3.5 points.”

Fourth was Boarding Pass III (Oyster 575 – Bill Munro and Susan Harris), 3rd Yo Ho Ho of Sark (Oyster 45 - Neil and Sue Speed), 2nd SUNsuSEA (Oyster 46 – Paulina and Mariusz Kierebinski,  “we never, ever expected this”), 1st Silver Lining (Oyster 575 – Judy and Max Morrison “We are very, very lucky to have won this prize. Thank you Oyster. And I think we should thank all of our crews”).

In Class 2, it was 4th Delicia (Oyster 625 – Henrick Nyman), 3rd Vamos (Oyster 625 – David and Joanne Furby) and then for 1st and 2nd in the big battle between the two carbon rigged 625s and with everything balanced on the last race, in the end it was 2nd place for Guardian Angel leaving 1st to Lady Mariposa. Truly testing sailing. “Fantastic, really good racing,” said Lady Mariposa. “We’ll be back!” said Guardian Angel.

In Class 1, results, too, were settled by the last race.  With 4.75 points, in 4th place, Clare (Oyster 885 – Sir Frank Chapman) who said: “Thank you, David [Tydeman – Oyster CEO] for the running of this event. And I must say you have the patience of a saint with all those requests for repeats on the radio! I’d like to say, too, that the fleet’s looking wonderful here and the new boats very pretty.”

Of third placed Starry Night of the Caribbean, David said: “Great to see one of our older, bigger boats doing so well.”

Reina (Oyster 825) notched 2nd after a very hot contest, too, particularly against Karibu defending her title from last year but having to work a lot harder to keep it. Taking 1st, Karibu commented; “We’d also like to thank Oyster for this great event you organise and thanks to our crew permanent and race, too and we look forward to another year and hope we will do as well again.”

David Tydeman then awarded his discretional with Lazy Tern (Oyster 46 – David and Liz Mcnaghten) commended for great sportsmanship earlier in the week; Alpha Eden Island (625 – Tinus Slabber); Chione (525 – Jorgen Kjaernes) who had every intention of arriving and racing but whose journey completion juts wasn’t possible in the time but were present. Not making it to the regatta in time was the result of their very kind loan of the boat to Oyster for display at the autumn boats shows.

In thanking Jorgen, David Tydeman added: “It is a shame that they arrived on the last night with no boat but then there is always the next – the Oyster Regatta BVI, 13-18 April 2015, it will be a good one. There’s also of course the upcoming Oyster Pacific Rally in 2017 and Oyster Asia Rally in 2018. 

“Thanks for sailing safely. Thanks, too, to the event’s generous sponsors: Dolphin Sails, Lewmar, Pantaenius, Pelagos Yachts, Raymarine, Reckmann, Sailkote and of course Real Club Nautico de Palma for hosting and helping ensure the smooth running of Oyster Regatta Palma 2014.”

Written by Mike Owen
Images by Martinez Studio