Tern Team Triumph
11 October 2014
One drink fuelled evening in Portimao David floated the idea of attending the Oyster Regatta in Palma... you see Oyster marketing is very smart and even us old Oyster owners get regular magazines every year with reports not only of cruises to the extreme and beautiful corners of the earth but also regattas in the Mediterranean and Caribbean. So an invitation to take part on his modern Oyster 46 "Lazy Tern" on one such event was just too good to miss. So here we were berthed in Real Club Nautico de Palma, the very smartest of Yacht Clubs!
Malibu and Lazy Tern arrived a few days before the regatta started so we could get organised and have a couple of practice sails on the 46. With just four on board racing a luxury cruising yacht is quite a different prospect from cruising! We had to get used to electric winches and get the cruising chute flying for the first time ever. Having been on board before we knew she was a beautiful boat, but were delighted to see how she sailed, a fast, comfortable stable platform..... I started to worry that poor Malibu would never be the same again in comparison!
Palma is Superyacht city. A large harbour with various marinas and boat yards catering for some of the world's largest pleasure yachts both motor and sail. Every day you see others, bigger and fancier than before. All perspective is lost as even the massive 100ft Oyster Penelope attending our Regatta is dwarfed by 200ft plus Yachts.
The 26 Oyster yachts at the event appeared slowly over the next few days a splendid sight given pride of place in front of the Yacht Club. Other than an older 45 we were the smallest along with another 46, our class made up with five other 50 plus ft boats. The next class consisted of ten 625 and 655's . The big boys were six 82 and 88's plus the 100ft yacht. Squillions of pounds worth.
The event started with a "Concours d' elegance" which prompted us to give Lazy Tern a wash, but we were wasting our time as around us professional crews and cleaners spend hours polishing and perfecting their brightwork. We do however now know how long it takes to clean an 80ft Oyster with a toothbrush, we timed it from the excellent bar in the clubhouse!
The Skippers briefing over we departed for the first social evening, a cocktail party on the terrace of the castle above us. Gillian and Graham had joined us for a holiday to stay on Malibu while we were busy racing. They were enjoying the club facilities (the pool just 20 meters from Malibu) but got caught up in the event and attended the cocktail party as well.
Disaster next day as Yvonne was not well - (you never know what you're eating served in a canope!)....... Gillian and Graham to the rescue. Both experienced yacht racers but new to this league and the boat.
Despite understandable anxiety about the start David put us across the line within seconds of the gun - the closest manoeuvring at speed you will ever risk in a big boat. We had a great race - (not last), a quick floating lunch and then did it all over again in the afternoon.
Racing amongst these giant craft is a fantastic if nerve racking experience. The smaller slower boats start first then the bigger boats chase us round the course. We think we are going fast until the monsters from behind glide past, flying massive colourful asymmetric spinnakers, many professionally crewed a wonderful sight.
An even more exotic venue for the flying buffet that evening, the castle above Palma given over to our exclusive use. The days prize giving providing Lazy Tern's first award - a bottle of bubbly for best start. David and Liz beamed with pride (and relief), after proving, regardless the final result, we would not embarrass ourselves on the water this week.