Tricky Day Five
We finally got some good breeze on the final day of racing at the Princess Sophia Trophy in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. We showed up to the club for a 12 o'clock start time, but were initially postponed because of a lack of breeze. We sat on shore for about an hour, but shortly headed out in a dying seabreeze. Once out there, the breeze died to nearly nothing, but the wind quickly shifted to the North-west and built to 6-16 knots for three races.
The first race was sailed in a very shifty 8-12 knots of breeze. We were pretty close to shore again, and the weather mark was only a few hundred yards off of some buildings. I had an ok start and tacked to the right in a good lane. For our first race, there were quite a few big winding right shifts, but there was some steadier, more consistent breeze on the left. When I was working my way back from the middle right, there were times when I would lift off of the fleet and looked like I could be in the top five. But the last shift into the mark was a big lefty that didn't help much. I rounded in about 30th place and stayed about there for the entire race, finishing 31st.
The second race was sailed in a solid 15 knots of breeze and big chop. The breeze had swung a little left, so it was more stable. I had a good start at the favored committee boat end of the line. I quickly tacked right and sailed for a few hundred yards. I got a big header and pressure, tacked, and looked great as I was crossing most of the fleet heading back to the center of the course! A few boats and I rode some nice pressure all the way up the course, and we jumped out to a nice lead. I was in 3rd place at the weather mark. Kristian Ruth, from Norway, was able to slip by on the first downwind. But I was able to separate from him and play a few shifts to pass him back on the next beat. I extended a little on the downwind and held on for a very satisfying 3rd place finish!
For the final race, the breeze died a little and shifted back right to a more offshore direction. The windward mark was all the way in close to shore, which made it really shifty at the top of the windward leg! I wanted to play the left side, as it seemed like there would be some more pressure there. Just like the first race, there were times when I looked great coming into the mark and times when it didn't look so good. When I finally got to the mark, I was in about 25th place. I caught a few boats initially, but sailed a poor final beat. I was pretty out of phase for most of it and fell back to 26th place at the finish.
Overall, it was an ok day. After my 31-3-26 I moved up to 17th place, a mere 2 pts from 15th. Gold fleet is pretty tough, and one look at how inconsistent the scores are will reveal just that. I was particularly pleased with my 3rd place finish. It's good to know that I can hang with the top guys if I get in the top group. Now I just need to do that more often!
Sailing in Palma has been a great experience. I had some good training beforehand, and I learned a few things from racing against this fleet. Every time I go out I figure out more and more things I can do better. It's all part of the process of improving overall, so I'm really glad I was able to spend two weeks here.
The plan now is to stay in Palma for a few days to ride our bikes in the mountains nearby. It should be some awesome riding, and I'm looking forward to taking a few days off from sailing for some cross-training. On Monday night, I'm going to drive to Hyeres, France, with James Espey, an Irish sailor. Our next regatta starts on the 18th!
Final Results can be found here: Results