Ever consistent Bay of Palma gave the eight GC32 flying catamaran crews a more complete test on the penultimate day of the Mediterranean's most prestigious multi-class regatta, Copa del Rey MAPFRE.
Changeable conditions kept both competitors and race officials on their toes.
Two races with windward starts in 7-8 knots were held initially before the race committee, led by PRO Stuart Childerley, moved to the top of the course for one round of the ANONIMO Speed Challenge and a reaching start third race in 12-15 knots. Then the wind dropped and the race committee was forced to revert to its initial set-up.
Day three of GC32 competition here in Majorca produced yet more heroes. Star performer today was American Jason Carroll and his team of 'Argonauts'. The longest serving team on the GC32 Racing Tour, Argo today seemed to own the race course, comfortably winning today's first two races and leading for much of the third.
While the increasingly immaculate INEOS Team UK beat them overall today by a point, Argo's 13 points were some 15 less than Zoulou, the next best owner-driver team, giving Carroll a healthy 15 point lead on the Owner-Driver leaderboard over Erik Maris' team.
“I think we really benefitted from having clear starts every single race and not getting caught in too much traffic goes a long way,” explained Carroll, adding that perhaps he had felt more comfortable with today's upwind starts. “We did a lot back in Lagos, so it was probably fresh in our memory – we ran through our playbook and remembered everything we had done well and the mistakes we'd made to ensure we didn't repeat them. It worked out pretty well.”
Still far from the consistency they showed last season when they won the GC32 Racing Tour, Realteam posted some of their best results today, coming second in the first race and leading the final race, ultimately coming home second again.
“We had a pretty good day,” said skipper Jerome Clerc, slightly surprised as regular crewman Loic Forestier was injured sailing yesterday. He was replaced today on headsail trim by experienced GC32 hand Christophe Carbonnières.
As to their form so far, Clerc attributes it to his new crew and perhaps a little 'resting on their laurels' after last season. “Our level is really lower than last year, which surprises me because I thought we would be faster. We will improve.”
The America's Cup teams – INEOS Team UK and NORAUTO powered by Team France – still dominate GC32 competition at Copa del Rey MAFPRE.
Even with Argo's stand-out performance today, launching the US team solidly into third place, second placed NORAUTO remains 21 points ahead. However they trail the Brits by six points and this might have been less had Franck Cammas' team not been OCS in race one, leaving them seventh. However, it was NORAUTO, not INEOS that won today's final two races (INEOS claimed the third).
“We did well, but not in some starts,” explained Cammas. “The speed of the boat was good in the light compared to Garda. It was a good day, except there is a black boat [INEOS] that's better than us – by two points each day! I hope tomorrow that will change.”
Cammas' young crew is up against the posse of yacht racing A-listers on INEOS Team UK including reigning Olympic Finn gold medallist Giles Scott and two time America's Cup winner Joey Newton. So to keep Sir Ben Ainslie's team in their rear view mirror, Cammas admitted to match racing them today occasionally. “If we had the opportunity to do something we did.”
As to today's slight variation in conditions Cammas said that, unusually it had paid to be on either of the laylines, rather than centre course. “In the middle you seemed to get caught between two winds.”
Today's ANONIMO Speed Challenge perfectly coincided with the peak wind speed and produced a new leader in Erik Maris' Zoulou who recorded an average speed of 23.54 knots.
Competition continues tomorrow for the final day of GC32 flying catamaran competition at Copa del Rey MAPFRE concluding with tomorrow night prizegiving where HRH Felipe VI of Spain will be presenting the trophies.
Full results: www.regatacopadelrey.com/resultados2018/resultados2018.php?ln=sp