The Dragon Grand Prix Spain off Puerto Portals, Mallorca, produced a splendid second day of racing thanks to a generous if shifty north wind that did not stop blowing in the nearly five hours in which the fleet of 44 teams from 12 countries were competing.
The first race of the day, the third of the event, started at 1.43pm after two general recalls. With a 320º wind blowing at up to 12 knots, the first two legs of a windward-leeward course were completed with the leaders of the fleet sailing in tightly packed formation. At that point the wind increased slightly to 14 knots and the course was changed to 295 degrees allowing the fleet spread out a little over the second lap. Race four got underway at 3.38pm, after another general call, and with the wind now established in the North West the race committee was able to complete a five leg windward/leeward course finishing the boats downwind.
It wasn’t a good day for overnight leader Otto Polhmann sailing Meerblick, who dropped from first to eighth position overall after scoring a sixteenth and fifteenth in today’s races. However, the Dutch team aboard Troika, helmed by Pieter Heerema, seized the day and took the lead. Yesterday Troika scored a fourth and ninth and today they added two third places to escalate them from sixth to the top of the classification. With two days and up to four more races to go, they currently lead the regatta with 19 points.
Lying in second place overall is the German Ingrid team, who hold a podium position for the second consecutive day, moving up from third to second with 27 points. Peter Gilmour, aboard the Japanese Yred, climbs a position and lies third with 28 points and is tied on points with the British Fever helmed by Klaus Diederichs, who lies fourth on count back. Fever has a single point advantage over the fifth placed Rocknrolla, helmed by Russia’s Dmitry Samokhin who took a second in race three but followed up with a thirteenth.
With the wind coming down off Mallorca’s western mountains conditions were so shifty that to quote Pieter Heerema’s crew, Ukrainian 49er Olympian and World Champion George Leonchuk, “Even the shifts had shifts!” Consistency was unsurprisingly hard to find and in addition to Heerema and Diederichs, only two other boats achieved a pair of top ten finishes today. Russia’s Evgenii Braslavets sailing Bunker Prince took a fourth and second to jump into sixth overall, while Germany’s Nicola Friesen, sailing Khaleesi, won race three and then placed eighth in race four. Unfortunately she was disqualified after protest from race two and placed 22nd in race one, so despite a great day today she still finds herself in 15th overall at the regatta’s halfway point.
Race four was won by Portugal’s Pedro Rebelo de Andrade who is having a decidedly mixed regatta, as he explains; “Yesterday we had a bad day and the first race today also wasn’t great, so we were desperate for a good race. The conditions on the race course yesterday and today were very very tricky with lots of shifts and gusts, and the wind was changing strength and direction all the time and it was really hard to predict what was going on. So tactics were a little bit strange on this race course.
“The last race of today we decided to play the right hand side and we discussed how hard the race course was and we just said OK, we just have to keep doing what we are doing, we don’t think we are doing a bad job, it’s just we are missing a little bit of luck, and finally that luck came in for us on that last race. There were some moments that it could have been really bad for us on the right hand side, but a saviour puff came from the right and we managed to get to the top mark in front of the fleet and after that we just tried to manage the distance. We didn’t focus on the wind, we just focused on the boats behind us because of such tricky conditions.”
Up to four races remain to be sailed in the Dragon Grand Prix Spain which continues until Thursday 14 November. The completion of the fifth race will see the introduction of the regattas single discard.
Once the Grand Prix Spain is completed the top twenty teams from the overall 2019 Dragon Grand Prix Series will move forward into the Grand Finals, a knock out competition that will be sailed on Friday 15 and Saturday 16 November to decide the ultimate champion.
Provisional Top Ten After Four Races
1. NED412 – Troika – Pieter Heerema – 4,9,3,3 = 19
2. GER16 – Ingrid – Dirk Pramann – 8,2,13,14 = 27
3. JPN56 – Yred – Peter Gilmour – 7,4,5,12 = 28
4. GBR819 – Fever – Klaus Diederichs – 5,7,7,9 = 28
5. RUS76 – Rocknrolla – Dmitry Samokhin – 1,3,2,13 = 29
6. ITA77 – Bunker Prince – Evegnii Braslavets – 13,11,4,2 = 30
7. GER62 – Desert Holly – Stephan Link – 2,5,12,11 = 30
8. GER1205 – Meerblick – Otto Pohlmann – 3,1,16,15 = 35
9. GER1170 – Cameleer – Marcus Brennecke – 9,10,19,6 = 44
10. RUS27 – Annapurna – Anatoly Loginov – 6,17,6,22 = 51