Business as usual at Princesa Sofía

Published on March 28th, 2017

Palma, Spain (March 28, 2017) – From a funky first day of racing when the promising solid morning breeze evaporated to become difficult, shifty and unsettled and then disappeared, it was a return to business as usual for the second day of competition at the 48th edition of the Trofeo Princesa Sofía IBEROSTAR regatta.

The Bay of Palma was blessed by the reliable light Embat sea breeze which filled in on cue to keep the 10 Olympic classes racing on, or close to schedule.

It is 21 years since Holland’s Roy Heiner clinched a bronze medal in the Finn class in Savannah at the 1996 Olympic regatta. Now the Finn fleet on the Bay of Palma sees the Heiner family name back near the front of the fleet, courtesy of son Nicholas.

After more than five years in the Laser class, peaking with a triumphant Laser World title in 2014 in Santander, Nicholas Heiner has beefed up and is making waves near the front of a competitive Finn fleet. Coached by Spain’s Olympic silver medallist Rafa Trujillo, Heiner is lying a provisional third place in the 57 boat Finn fleet after four races. It is very, very early days but the young Dutch sailor is enjoying the transition.

“It is great to now race in the big fleet in the Finn. I did Melbourne last year and there was only five or six boats so there are way more good guys here and it is now good to race against them.”

A rigorous winter training programme in the gym has seen the required dividends in muscle and fitness.

“I am 10 or 11 kilos heavier than I was in the Laser, and going heavier. How far? I can’t say, that is top secret. It will depend on what we feel I can handle performance wise. We build it up slowly but the muscle comes on quick enough. I am happy with that.

“There has been a lot of gym work and a lot of food. You are just eating as much food as you can get in! Initially the weight was coming on with the gym work alone and now with the regatta when you are racing the Finn downwind, compared with the Laser, it is so brutal that a day like today I am quite tired. So I am ready for some pasta. In the Laser it was salad all the time and some pasta now and again.”

His father, a veteran of four Olympics between 1988 and 2000 in the Finn and Soling, was on hand during Nicholas’ last training camp.

“My dad came to the last training camp and it was great. Some old school stuff came up but he did make me think about stuff, some of the little things that matters, for example. It was great to have him around.”

The Finn fleet completed two races in the moderate sea breeze which dropped away during the afternoon. Estonia’s Deniss Kapak leads the regatta by a clear six points from Sweden’s Max Salminen. Miami Sailing World Cup winner Jorge Zarif of Brazil lies seventh.

The 470 classes stayed on schedule with two races for both groups sailed. The Women, racing first, enjoyed the best of the day’s conditions before the breeze started to die during the late afternoon, making it especially challenging during the second race for the Men. Afrodite Zegers and Anneloes Van Veen, the winners in January in Miami and who just missed the Rio podium with fourth place, have retained their consistency – finishing no worse than fourth – to lead by one point.

“First race we had a good start and went OK but missed some pressure near the top, from then on we kept fighting and took some opportunities to catch up to the one and two who were in front of us,” recalled crew Van Veen. “In the second race we were struggling a bit more. We were not so fast in our downwinds but we managed okay.

“In Miami we sailed well to win and then got some good training afterwards but here the fleet is bigger, it is more challenging here. This season we are targeting everything towards the Europeans and Worlds in Greece which is still home territory in a way for Afro. I think we are on the right track.”

While the top female duo did not falter, the male Russian duo Pavel Sozkyin and Denis Gribanov struggled in the second race – sailing a discard 19th in the very light breeze. They still lead but only by a single point from the American pair Stu McNay and Dave Hughes who won the second race of their day. Brazil’s Geison Mendes and Gustavo Thiesen are third.

“In the end we did not get such good starts but we did okay,” Brazilan Helm Mendes explained. “We have done some training in Brazil with the younger guys and it is good to be pushed by them. We were very happy yesterday when there was more wind, we were very fast. Here we are looking for a good result from here so we can go to Hyeres and we want to go to Japan. The fleet here is good with many young crews and today in the light winds they were very fast.”

Spain’s 49er duo who finished ninth in Rio 2016, Diego Botin and Iago Lopez Marra continue to lead the Men’s Skiff class winning two of their qualifying fleet races, and so lie five points ahead of the GBR duo James Peters and Fynn Sterritt.

“It’s been a really solid day for us even it is was a bit complicated,” Botin commented. “Our goal is to be on top at the end of the championship. We’ve only sailed two days and we haven’t yet used the discard which is so important. We have to try to keep on sailing like today. And this being one of my favourite events helps. I love the conditions, the place and all the facilities we have! I love being here!”

The German pair Victoria Jurczok and Anika Lorenz have a ten points cushion at the top of the 49er FX fleet. Fourth on these waters one year ago they move into the Tokyo quadrennial after their ninth in Rio. Norway’s Helene Naess and Marie Ronningen are second. They could not quite match the German because they missed the key move in the first race before the breeze built.

“The first race we did not have the proper sea breeze built and so that race was just all about getting into the shore,” Ronningen recalls. “The sea breeze came in for the second race and I think we were the only ones who saw that coming and we went left and went from fifth to first. In the last race it was then all about getting to the left, to the shore and getting the shore effect, standard Palma sea breeze. It is always good to be in Palma. With six races done we have had four good races and two not so good races. And so we are happy. The fleet here is interesting. There are a lot of new teams, it is interesting to see people switching in and out from the Nacra and so many young girls coming into the class and the people who have been to the Olympics.”

Jeemin Ha, Korea’s representative in Rio, leads the Laser class, GBR’s past world champion Nick Thompson returning a solid 3,2 to lie second behind Canarian Joel Rodrieguez, while in the Radial fleet Holland’s Maxime Jonker is three points up on GBR’s world champion Alison Young.

The Nacra 17 fleet has Denmark’s Lin Cenholt and Christian Peter Lubeck leading ahead of new pairing John Gimson and Anna Burnett with British compatriots Tom Phipps and Nikki Boniface in third. The newly formed duo of double Olympic medallist Iker Martinez and Olga Maslivets lie 11th. After five Olympic windsurfing campaigns, Maslivets is on a steep learning curve adapting to the Nacra.

“There are good things and many unexpected things for me,” said Maslivets. “Definitely the high speed skills from windsurfing helps a lot in the catamaran, that’s’ a good thing. There are lots of weak points, of course, one is that I am not that much into pure sailing and I do not know a lot about boats, how they work, how the systems works and definitely team work. That’s my weak point, I’m used to sailing alone so now I’m learning new things. I was sailing in RS:X, top level RS:X, 5 Olympic campaigns, now jumping into Nacra 17, a very new beginning. The Trofeo Princesa Sofía IBEROSTAR is giving a real challenge to see where we are and what we need to work on. It is really exciting.”

Spain’ London 2012 gold medallist Marina Alabau is on form leading the RS:X Women’s class while Poland’s Pawel Tarnowski, the 2008 Youth World Champion and runner up here last year, heads the Men’s regatta.

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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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