470 Palamos Christmas Regatta by Matt Mee
The week before Christmas saw the 3 Skandia Team GBR Development Squad Men’s 470’s travel to Palamos, Spain for the annual Christmas Regatta. As in previous years a full range of weather and wind conditions were thrown at the fleet.
Day 1 of the regatta was sailed in ‘classic’ Palamos conditions, anything from 0-15 knots off the land with huge differences in wind speed and direction across the racecourse. The race officer struggled with the shifting conditions and the eager fleet resulting in countless postponed starts. The men’s fleet was quickly demoted to the back of the starting order behind the 470 Women and the Finn’s who shared the course! Only one race was sailed having spent 6 hours on the water, we managed to get a clean start, quickly tack onto port and with some good speed round the top mark in 3rd. The breeze died on the run with plenty of place changing and after almost being ‘sucked’ back into the fleet we sailed a good second beat and final run to secure a hard fought 4th place.
Day 2 – In true Palamos fashion, Racing Cancelled due to 40knots and freezing temperatures.
Day 3 – This was where the regatta was won and lost. Sailed in a light south westerly breeze with again large pressure differences and huge irregular shifts. The determining factor often being able to sail in the small short lasting patches of breeze just off the start and get clear of the main bunch…. This we didn’t manage to do very well! That day we posted a 9th and a 19th, to our surprise apart from the top 3 everybody else had an equally difficult day and we somehow remained in 4th place.
Day 4 – With a breezy forecast, a huge swell running and with races to catch up on we were ready for a big day on the water! Racing was held in awesome conditions, and although the breeze dropped throughout the day the waves kept things interesting. We started well, were relatively quick, sailed well tactically and apart from one BIG mistake in the 2nd race it was a good day posting a 4, 29, 5. This meant we qualified for the medal race in 4th position with a slim chance of moving forward but with a group close behind on points.
Medal Race – Was sailed in 5-15 knots on an inshore course, still with a good swell running. The breeze died halfway up the first beat and with a big right shift leaving the 10 boats split at the top mark with the top 4 clear, of which we were 4th. We sailed a really good 1st run which got us right on to the back of the front 3 boats and launched our attack up the 2nd beat. The French boat covered us hard at the top of the beat and we held positions down the final run with him beating us to 3rd by a boat length.
This meant, yes you guessed it! We finished 4th overall and 1st British boat. A pleasing result in all with a few mistakes separating us from the top 3 boats.