Measuring progress toward Tokyo 2020

Published on April 3rd, 2018

Mallorca, Spain (April 3, 2018) – Aside from the 73-boat Finn fleet, qualifying continued today amid the ten Olympic events competing at the 49th Trofeo Princesa Sofia Iberostar on the Bay of Palma. As an open event at the start of the European season, many among the 870 entrants are looking to get a measure of their progress toward Tokyo 2020.

Australians Mat Belcher and Will Ryan return to the 470 after a six month break and today climbed to the top of the 470 Men’s leaderboard today after a 3,1 in what proved to be relatively light airs during their two heats.

The duo, Olympic silver medallists in Rio 2016, current World Champions and class winners here in 2016, maintain they are here to shed any ring rustiness and check in with the strong fleet here, but they appeared to be right into their stride.

“It was a bit lighter than we expected,” noted Belcher, a double Olympic medallist and 5-time 470 World Champion. “We started the race in about 15kts and then it died away quickly. So it was a light wind day and as we have not raced in six months, it is good to be back. We feel quite fresh if a little bit rusty and we are here in a big fleet to learn our lessons early on in the season rather than later when it becomes more critical.

“We did not really know what to expect here, it is our chance to be back racing in the boat. We have done a little training but not much.

“I have been doing some ‘real work’ at home doing developing some residential buildings which is a bit of a change from this. Will has been racing the M32s. We will do Hyeres and then head back to Australia for a bit. I think we will miss the Europeans but we will see how we go.”

In the 49er Class, the 30th birthday for world champion helm Dylan Fletcher Scott was celebrated quietly as he and Olympic silver medallist Stu Bithell with a strong 1,1,2 to take the overall fleet lead after six qualifying races.

“That’s enough of a birthday present for him. He’s getting nothing ’til the end of the week. The big present would be to win here,” quipped Bithell who won 2012 Olympic silver in the 470. The duo have medalled at every 49er event since they paired up last year.

“Neither of us have won here and so that is the objective. We are here to win, it is always to win!” grinned Fletcher-Scott, “We thought there would be slightly more breeze today and it was light and that made it slightly more tricky. But we were on it. We made some good decisions, had some good speed and good enough starts to make sure we had a nice day.

“At 30 I suppose I’m one of the older ones in the fleet and so it is nice to be showing the nippers how to get around the course.”

In the Nacra 17, the Italian world championship bronze medallists Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti dropped to second behind world champion Ben Saxton sailing with Nicola Boniface of Great Britain. Like many others, the Italian duo have been winter training in comparative isolation in Sardinia and could not race in Miami because they only have the one boat.

“We are here to see how our winter preparations worked after a long winter training in Cagliari,” reports Tita. “There were many other teams there from Belgium, Finland and Denmark. We are looking to the worlds and to qualify the nation and then go from there.”

Saxton and Boniface sailed a 1,1,2 to lead the Italian duo by two points. Their tally for the day was matched by Spanish veteran Fernando Echavarri and Tara Pacheco from whom Saxton and Katie Dabson snatched the 2017 world title on the last run of the last race in La Grande Motte last September. Boniface is subbing in for injured Dabson for this regatta.

A crew pool rotation system seems to be bringing success so far for the Dutch girls in the 49erFX skiff fleet. Although Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz sailed together from 2014 until the Rio Games where they finished seventh, afterwards they went their separate ways when they both elected to study. The Netherlands system has their girls sail with each other on a rotation system to find the best combination.

And so Bekkering and Duetz only teamed up together a couple of weeks ago but the old magic is sparking for them again and they have opened a nine points margin over Denmark’s Ida Marie Baad Nielsen and Marie Thusgaard Olsen.

“We teamed up in 2014 and sailed until the Games, and then the whole Dutch squad system comes in and we have nine girls and all mix up sail with one another,” said Bekkering. “I got back in the boat last April and Annette in September. Then we kept swapping.

“A month ago we were asked to express our preferences and they work out the matches. So we have been back together for two weeks. We have done a lot of training – just not together – in Vilamoura in Portugal and one and a half months here. We have all done a lot of sailing and you see the group is strong. As a partnership we back each other and the decisions come naturally.”

After four races for the Laser and Laser Radials, 19 year old Australian Finn Alexander, the 2016 Youth World Champion, is still holding on to a one point margin ahead of Kiwi silver medallist Sam Meech while Greece’s Vasileia Karachaliou holds the Radial overall lead. The Netherlands’ double Olympic medallist Marit Bouwmeester has moved up to third, sharing the same points tally as second placed Maud Jayet of Switzerland.

Just as the Youth World Champion in the Laser is having his time in the sun at the top of the Laser fleet, so Israel’s Yoav Cohen, who won the board Youth World title in Sanya, China in December tops the RS:X Men’s leaderboard. Briton Bryony Shaw has won two races in the RS:X and lies third behind China’s Pei Na and Lilian De Geus (NED).

Canada, Mexico, USA update:
Among the 41 entrants, today saw rising fortunes for USA in the Finn, Laser, and Men’s 470 with Luke Muller in third, Chris Barnard in seventh, and Stu McNay/ Dave Hughes in tenth. Everyone else is outside the top 20 aside from Americans Caleb Paine (12- Finn), Paige Railey (13 – Radial), and Riley Gibbs/ Louisa Chafee (15 – Nacra 17).

The 2018 Trofeo Princesa Sofía Iberostar regatta, which lifts the curtain on the European competition season for the Olympic classes, has attracted 870 boats and 1215 sailors from 62 different nations. The 49th edition will be held in the bay of Palma de Mallorca from April 2-7, 2018.

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Teams from Canada, Mexico, and USA:

470 M (2): Stu McNay/ Dave Hughes (USA), Wiley Rogers/ Jack Parkin (USA)
470 W (1): Atlantic Brugman/ Nora Brugman (USA)
49er (7): William Jones/ Evan Depaul (CAN), Alexander Heinzemann/ Justin Barnes (CAN), Nevin Snow/ Mac Agnese (USA), Judge Ryan/ Hans Henken (USA), Ian Barrows/ Mitchell Kiss (USA), Christopher Rast/ Burd Trevor (USA), Andrew Mollerus/ Ian MacDiarmid (USA)
49erFX (1): Stephanie Roble/ Margaret Shea (USA)
Finn (2): Caleb Paine (USA), Luke Muller (USA)
Laser (12): Matti Muru (CAN), Luke Ruitenberg (CAN), Robert Davis (CAN), Max Gallant (CAN), Justin Norton (CAN), Fillah Karim (CAN), Juan Ignacio Perez Soltero (MEX), Yanic Gentry (MEX), Marek Zaleski (USA), Henry Marshall (USA), Christopher Barnard (USA), Charlie Buckingham (USA)
Laser Radial (8): Sarah Douglas (CAN), Maura Dewey (CAN), Coralie Vittecoq (CAN), Elena Oetling (MEX), Christina Sakellaris (USA), Erika Reineke (USA), Paige Railey (USA), Haddon Hughes (USA)
Nacra 17 (1): Riley Gibbs/ Louisa Chafee (USA)
RS:X M (4): David Mier y Teran (MEX), Ignacio Berenguer (MEX), Pedro Pascual (USA), Geronimo Nores (USA)
RS:X W (3): Mariana Aguilar (MEX), Cristina Ortiz Vivas (MEX), Farrah Hall (USA)

Source: Event Media

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