A surprise win, fashioned out of the most unpromising of light conditions, was notched up by one of the two British boats in the TP52 world championship when the opening race was staged off Palma today.
Calling the shots on Cristabella are the Kiwi America's Cup campaigner John Cutler and the noted British helmsman Tim Powell who produced the team's best ever result in a world championship series. A second in the opening race in 2007 was the previous best. This time they led at every mark.
Making its debut was Weapon of Choice, the former Matador, with Solent racer Tony Langley in charge, aided and abetted by Rob Greenhalgh. They were ninth in a 10-boat fleet joined for the first time by a French entry, Paprec Recyclage, helmed by Hugues Destremau.
Defending champion Terry Hutchinson's Quantum was fifth but was back to winning ways for a second race staged so late that the yachts were in danger of needing to show navigation lights by the end. The King of Spain's Bribon edged the dispute for second place with Torbjorn Tornqvist's Artemis while Cristabella finished ninth, one place behind Weapon of Choice. The series continues until Sunday.
Light winds, too, on the opening day on Hamilton Harbour, Bermuda, where reigning world champion Ian Williams is trying to keep alive hopes of a third World Match Race Tour title in a row, but leading the charge, both overall and in Bermuda, is the Australian Torvar Mirsky with Kiwi rival Adam Minoprio second. In contrast, brisk winds were forecast for the second day at the limit of safety for the classic International One Design yachts used for the competition.
Williams needs to win both this regatta, in which Ben Ainslie has joined the fray as part of his Team Origin America's Cup challenge team warm-up, and the final event in Malaysia in December, even to hope to overtake the two frontrunners.