Day two of the Superyacht Cup Ulysse Nardin was a topsy turvy affair but aboard Charles Dunstone's Hamilton 11 we wriggled out of trouble
It was one of those days when the sea breeze seemed to be effecting the front of the boat while the land breeze played havoc with everything aft of amidships – day two of the Superyacht Cup Ulysse Nardin in Palma, sponsored by Astilleros de Mallorca, started with a blast of a fetch, was turned upside down as the sea breeze fought a north easter, and finished with a classic beat in ‘billiard table’ sailing conditions.
Aboard Charles Dunstone’s 35m Hamilton 11 it would have been easy to put down our 4th place to a stroke or two of luck but some canny sailing brought us through one of the most extraordinary melees I have ever seen at a race mark. Afterall with the likes of Peter Morton, David Bedford, Neil ‘Strapper’ Mackley, Sir Keith Mills (pictured right) and the yacht’s designer Philippe Briand aboard we really had to be in with a shout!
Looking good after a blast of a fetch to the first mark, during which we picked off a number of yachts, things took a nasty turn for the worse as the land and sea breezes started to cancel each other out.
We could only look on as Timoneer, skippered by Cup specialist Phil Wade and Eleonora, with the likes of Tom Perry and Jason Beaver masterminding their comeback, powered past us to the right, followed by the J Class Velsheda. To seaward another group, including the mighty Maltese Falcon, tried their luck, in vain as it turned out, looking for the new sea breeze. Our tactician Peter Morton and race skipper David Bedford kept their nerve as we meandered down the middle and eventually picked up the land breeze which we managed to hold right to the aforementioned mark.
A crucially timed gybe and neat A sail drop brought Hamilton into the right side of the mark which by now had become a parking lot for almost half the fleet. We threaded the needle between Timoneer, now looking dead in the water, and Borkumriff 1V, somehow avoiding her vast wind shadow, and turned inside Harold Cudmore aboard Hyperion before virtually taking the paint off the stern of a Wally as we executed our exit strategy.
Yachts were coming into the mark under almost every sail configuration, pointing in all directions and generally making the Bay of Palma look like a bad day in mid-Solent during Cowes Week. How collisions were avoided I’ll never know but it was a fantastic spectacle for competitors and spectators (also in the middle of it all) alike.
The smiles aboard Hamilton broadened measurably as we maintained our momentum and wriggled out of the mass in third place on the water behind Arrayan, whose Olympic crew had pulled out a massive lead. Kokomo of London had also done very well to get round the mark clear ahead.
We set off on a great beat to the finish but could do nothing as Hasso Platner’s mighty Visione (147ft) powered past us to windward looking a real treat. Interestingly both Visione and Hamilton were sporting the same retro-fitted Future Fibres PBO rigging and America’s Cup style inflatable ‘air’ battens in their blade jibs, features becoming increasingly popular in the superyacht fleet. Visione also managed to pick off Kokomo of London, right on the line, while we managed to hold off Hyperion.
It was a job well done and I wondered whether Sir Keith Mills, aboard prior to being in Valencia for another important event this week end, was eyeing up some of the afterguard, to say nothing of the foredeck ‘union’ who had done sterling work up front on a very varied but enjoyable day!