Time is the eternal enemy at Trofeo Princesa Sofia
Published on March 27th, 2016
Mallorca, Spain (March 27, 2016) – In any sport in, any Olympic cycle, time is the eternal enemy. It is perhaps the most precious commodity of all in Olympic sailing.
Santi Lange: “I am so happy to be back here and ready to go racing. It has been a battle to get back healthy but here I am. All last year was a fight and so this is the first trip I have done without getting ill. “We still have a long way to catch up to the good guys.”
Around the Bay of Palma, Easter Sunday may have been gleefully seized by holidaying locals and visitors as chance to enjoy the warm Spring sunshine. But for the 1000 plus sailors of the Trofeo Princesa Sofia IBEROSTAR Olympic classes regatta, practise race day really just ushered the competition, the days of reckoning one day nearer.
Common convention now dictates that there is more to be lost than gained from competing in the official practise race. The hard training is done. Over the past days and weeks there have been endless unofficial training races. Equipment choices are made.
Keeping the powder dry and the pre-regatta focus intact is far more important than the risk of a eve-of-racing dent to the boat or – with so much resting on this week – to the confidence.
In fact consensus between sailors, coaches and organisers lead to today’a practise race being cancelled. With eight course areas now, rather than the previous seven, the decision holds in reserve some of the substantial resources required to set it all out for the small percentage of sailors would ever take the start line.
So Sunday, for sailors and organisers alike, has been about making the very best use of time.
Three Olympic medallists in the regatta, none of them strangers to adversity, are past masters in making every minute of every day count as injuries or illnesses have affected their Olympic programmes. Unfortunatley one has seemingly lost that battle.
For Santi Lange (ARG) in the Nacra 17 Class, whose last year was compromised by a little battle with lung cancer, securing his spot at what will be his sixth consecutive Olympic games was a victory in itself. Now he and crew Cecilia Carranza Saroli are fighting to make up for lost time.
“I am so happy to be back here and ready to go racing. It has been a battle to get back healthy but here I am. All last year was a fight and so this is the first trip I have done without getting ill. We still have a long way to catch up to the good guys. I am managing to sail. Everything is fine now and we are working hard to be ready for the Games. More than the result here, this is about how we sail. It is all about us how we sail and what we learn from the good guys, slowly from now to August we are trying to close the gap. Last year I sailed very little and with Cecila we have sailed only very few days together in the campaign. But since January we started a bit and now we are trying to sail a lot until the Games.”
Olympic bronze medalist Lange and Carranza Saroli finished 12th at the World Championships in Florida but won two races and finsihed top three in three other races, and finished fifth at the Miami World Cup regatta.
China’s Laser Radial Olympic gold and bronze medallist Lija Xiu is also now working hard on programme during which every day has to be treated like gold dust. Injuries have plagued her career and have influenced her decisions to step back from Olympic sailing for periods.
In her early years she had to have a giant-cell bone tumor removed from her leg, missing the 2004 Olympics in the Europe after a routine medical revealed the problem. She has only limited vision in her left eye and does not hear well. She has also suffered regular back trouble.
Just as she did after 2008’s bronze medal win in Qingdao, after her London gold medal success she turned her back on Olympic sailing in favour her academic career. She has only raced a small handful of times since 2012 but returned to full time this year, 12th at the Laser Radial Europeans in Grand Canaria and sixth a the Miami World Cup.
She is back working with Briton Jon Emmet who guided her to gold when the pressure was immense on a memorable and emotional last day in Weymouth & Portland.
“We just have to be really, really efficient.” Emmet highlights, “And the Princess Sofia regatta is an important setp along the way. For us the balance between training and racing is important. So we keep everything very simple. The problem, of course, is that sailing development is not linear. We had a big wobble with fitness last year, as you do with an athlete who has struggled with injuries, and so now we have a physio who travels with us.”
Emmet continues, “But I think we are back on track but we are very, very short of time. We have to get as much as we can out of each and every day. We always talk about how we can optimise things. But when you consider that at this point in the last cycle Lily had just broken her hand and could not sail we are not so badly off. Pressure? We just ignore it as much as we can. You can only control the controllables and you can’t let yourself worry about the rest of it.”
While these two stars of Olympic sailing have triumphed over adversity it was confirmed today that Spain’s two times Olympic medallist Iker Fernandez has been forced to bow out of this Trofeo Princesa Sofia IBEROSTAR regatta. Martinez who won Olympic gold in 2004 and silver in 2008 in the 49er Class with Xabi Fernandez, suffered a knee injury in a collision with another boat early in the Nacra 17 World Championships in Clearwater, Florida. Martinez and Julia Rita could take no further part in the worlds.
An intensive rehabilitation period has followed but, although the duo has been on the water a few times since, Martinez is not fit enough. As the Spanish Olympic trials for the Nacra 17 are based on the Worlds, this regatta and the World Cup Hyeres, it seems this leaves Fernando Echavarri and Tara Pacheco (who previously crewed Martinez) a clear path to the Rio selection.
Racing at the Trofeo Princesa Sofia IBEROSTAR starts for the 10 Olympic classes on Monday.
Report by Event Media