Nightmare conditions for Olympic season opener
Published on March 30th, 2015
Palma de Mallorca, Spain (March 30, 2015) – The 46th Trofeo Princesa Sofía, which marks the beginning of the Olympic circuit in Europe, opened today with changeable conditions that challenged sailors and race committees. In winds ranging from 4 to 20 knots, and reaching 40 in some gusts, some of the races for the 800 entrants were not ideal.
The Finns were the first fleet to return ashore with two races completed. World champion Giles Scott (GBR) took the first race, managing the shifts to his advantage. A huge shift upset the outcome of the second race which was cancelled while the front pack lead by PJ Potsma were ten boat lengths from the finish line. In the second attempt, the wind died while the fleet was rounding the bottom mark and a few unlucky boats like the Canadian Martin Robitaille or Josh Junior (NZL) who went from fifth to 60th! Jonathan Lobert (FRA) successfully avoided the local “doldrums” to win the race. The French London Bronze medalist takes the lead in the Finn.
Click here for Finn report from John Bertrand.
The wind played havoc in the first women 470 race with two third of the fleet in the blue group failing to finish within the time limit! Last year Trofeo Sofia champions Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie (NZL) took a race to lead the 470 fleet on equal points with French Camille Lecointre / Helene Defrance and Afroditi Kyranakou / Annelies Van Veen (NED).
“It was a good day for us but very tough for the race committee out there,” admitted Aleh. “The wind ranged from 4 to 20 knots and shifted all the time! It is good to be back in Palma, all the top teams are here and it is a good warm up regatta for us.”
Palma is the first Olympic selection regatta for the Dutch 470 teams who have already set the pace with good performance. Afroditi Kyranakou and Annelies Van Veen are placed third while Michelle Broekhuizen and Marieke Jongens take the last race to end the day in eighth position.
The only race sailed in the 470 men division was a French affair with teams of Guilbaud / Guillarm and Pirouelle/ Sipan taking the bullet in their respective group. For Vianney Guilbaud and Vincent Guillarm, the objective in Palma is to qualify for one of the ten spot available for the French SWC in Hyeres.
Sailing the Nacra 17 proved to be quite an athletic performance with gusts reaching over 30 knots. Only ten boats managed to finish the first race in both groups where capsizes and broken equipment was a common sight. The Puerto Rican pair of Enrique Figueroa and Franchesca Valdes mastered the beastly conditions with two second places to lead the strong fleet. Current World champions Billy Besson and Marie Riou (FRA) shared the race victory in the yellow group with Swiss team of Matias Buhler and Nathalie Brugger. The event marks the come back to racing for Nathalie Brugger after her knee ligament injury in Miami. The conditions today were far from ideal when sailing with a knee in a bracket however the Swiss pair displayed good techniques to stay in control of their boat.
Olympic medalists and World champions Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) are taking a perfect start in the 49er event with two victories. Tamara Echegoyen and Berta Betanzos (ESP) proved just as good with a clean score in the 49erFX.
“It was really a difficult day, especially for the race committee” declared Echegoyen. “We were lucky to race in the end of the afternoon with less wind. We sailed well but not perfectly and will need to analise our mistakes. This is just the first day and what counts more in an event is the regularity so we will take tomorrow as if it is the first day!”
Jesper Stalheim (SWE), Tom Burton (AUS) and Lorenzo Chiavarini (GBR) have claimed the only race sailed in the three laser groups. In the Radial, experienced sailors Tatiana Drozdovskaya (BLR), Alison Young (GBR) and Annalise Murphy (IRL) are top three after two races in the Radial.
Only eight out of 45 windsurfers crossed the finish line in the Men RS:X yellow group. Today windy race was won by World champion Julien Bontemps (FRA) and Samuel Sills (GBR) in the Men and by Maayan DAVIDOVICH (ISR) and Sofia Keplacka (POL) in the women.
For the second day in a row, the kites didn’t race. The wind was either too strong or too gusty to allow for proper racing.
Racing continues daily and concludes April 4.
Source: Event media