Focus on formats at Trofeo Princesa Sofía

Published on March 30th, 2017

Palma, Spain (March 30, 2017) – As the Finn class at the Trofeo Princesa Sofía IBEROSTAR trial a new format which gives the top two sailors from Qualifying fast track tickets directly into Saturday’s five boat Grand Final, the runaway fleet leaders in the Womens Skiff class racing on the Bay of Palma may wrap up their titles with a day to spare.

In the driving seat in the Womens Skiff, the 49er FX, Germany’s Victoria Jurcoz and Anika Lorenz currently look unstoppable having won six times from 11 starts to lead the 30 boat class by 34 points. The Kiel based pair who are the only crew in this Palma fleet to have finished inside the top 10 in Rio sailed to a 1,1,2 in the lighter, 7-9kts sea breeze conditions.

“We did not start so well in the third race and had to fight back with some other fast girls around,” helm Jurcoz commented. “But we are giving everything we can to try and win tomorrow. That would be nice.”

The Finn class sailors holding counsel, not making any premature judgements about the format innovation which responds to the need to deliver easily understood, exciting, televisual finales to the Olympic events. Turkey’s Alician Kaynar and Estonian Deniss Karpak today booked their places in Saturday’s five boat Grand Final and will be joined by the top three sailors from an eight boat Semi Final raced tomorrow.

Kaynar, 13th in Rio and 18th in London, has only four points of a margin after eight races over Sweden’s Max Salminen in third. The class leader has mixed feelings about his fast track to the final.

“It is nice to make the final early and it’s important,” Kaynar said. “I will have time to rest a bit but I am not sure. It can still be unfair to some sailors. And from my own point of view if I carried on tomorrow there would still be the chance to guarantee a place on the podium. Now I don’t have that chance. There are two sides to it.”

Salminen, the Swede who was sixth in the Finn at the 2016 Olympic regatta, won both races today but also has mixed feelings.

“I am afraid about the new format that you can get in sticky situations because match racing or tactical sailing comes into play earlier rather in the Finals,” notes Salminen. “I am trying to be open minded. There are a lot of other things we could do better. I do think we can televise the sport better. As a class we missed out in Rio on two of the most spectacular days of racing I have had in my career because we were not on the TV course. No one at all could see us on the course. There is a lot of basic stuff to do before we fine tune the format.”

Salminen’s Swedish compatriots in the Mens 470 Class Carl-Frederick Fock and Marcus Dackhammer lead the Men’s 470 fleet after winning two of the three Finals races so far. Helm Fock believes they are profiting as a higher premium is placed on starting in the short 20 minutes duration sprint races of their Finals.

“We made it quite easy with the short upwinds,” says Fock. “If you could get away off the line then it was easy. It is important to be on one of the ends. Unfortunately now we are the only 470 crew left at this level in Sweden. In the last cycle we were three boats but I think it will be just us this time. That is OK for selection but it makes it hard to for training.”

The new 470 Womens class leaders are a fresh partnership at their first regatta together. Helm Silvia Mas Departes has won the 470 Junior Worlds twice but her crew Paula Barcelo has committed to studying medicine. The Barcelona helm who sails for the Arenal club which hosts the 470s paired up with Patricia Cantero just four weeks ago and the duo have clicked, taking over the top of the Women’s ranking today.

“We are fast together, especially upwind,” Canarian Cantero observes. “This is our first regatta together. I gave up sailing the 470 after I did not qualify for Rio. I did not sail from May last year until a few weeks ago. We feel good together. We trained a lot of hours before here to make it work. In the race I tell her what I see and she makes the final decision. It is working well.”

Solid consistency continues to serve the young British duo James Peters and Fynn Sterrit well, keeping them at the top of the 49er fleet for a second day in a row. Their 6,6,2 scoreline leaves them 13 points clear of Spanish Rio crew Diego Botin and Iago Lopez in second but the new partnership of Dylan Fletcher and 470 silver medallist Stu Bithell are on a charge after a mid regatta blip prompted by a ‘marginal UFD’ penalty. Miami winners Fletcher and Bithell have bounced back with a 3,1,1,2,3 to elevate themselves to third.

“It was nice to be out in the champagne conditions,” Fletcher explained. “It was awesome, typical Palma. We picked up at the UFD which was marginal and then there was a race run which we think should not have been run at all because there was no wind, so we did not do well. That is hurting us a little now. But otherwise today we were getting nice starts and going fast. It was easy when you were winning. It was hard when you are in the pack.”

Rio Olympian Fletcher adds: “It is really cool with Stu. I had been sailing with Alan (Sign) for a long time and so this is new, fun and exciting. His background is the 470 and so he brings a different element into the boat, he helps out with the tactics and is really, really good at making the boat go fast. It keeps me in check and has gelled well. For sure our boat handling needs to get better and we can go faster. Pete and Blair (gold medallists Burling and Tuke) are always fast. They will be back.”

The GBR pair John Gimson and Anna Burnett retain a slender lead in the Nacra 17 class where the standings exactly mirror those of the 49er with British crews first and third and hosts Spain in second in this case Spain’s Fernando Echavarri and Tara Pacheco. Gimson and Burnet survived a something of a rocky day after getting a UFD in Race 10. A collision in Race 12 resulted in damage which required them to retire but the subsequent protest allocated them redress points for the race.

Grand Canarain 19 year old Joel Rodriguez is reaping the rewards of a winter of hard training on his home waters, in Tenerife and Miami, leading the Laser class by 15 points ahead of Italy’s Francesco Marrai. Three British sailors, Elliot Hanson, Scot Lorenzo Chiavarini and double world champion Nick Thompson, lie third, fourth and fifth.

The points are tight at the top of the RS:X fleets where Poland’s 2012 Bronze medallist Zofia Klepacka leads and Spain’s Ivan Pastor holds a small margin in the Men’s competition.

“It has been a hard and physical day because of the light winds,” said Pastor. “When you are sailing now in the gold fleet every little mistake is paid for by many points. All the fleet is tired now and it is important to know who is behind you and so today I am happy with my results.”

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Background: The Spanish showcase Trofeo Princesa Sofía IBEROSTAR Regatta starts the new Olympic quadrennial in Europe on March 27 to April 1 when the waters of Palma, Mallorca welcome 646 boats and 833 sailors from 53 different nations, setting out on the first stages of what many hope will be a successful journey to the 2020 Olympic regatta in Tokyo, Japan.

Source: Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofía – Mallorca 2017

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