Early medals at Trofeo Princesa Sofia

Published on April 6th, 2018

Mallorca, Spain (April 6, 2018) – Overall victories in five of the ten Olympic classes at the 49th Trofeo Princesa Sofia Iberostar have been decided before tomorrow’s double points medal race is sailed.

The strength and depth of competition at the biggest ever edition of Mallorca’s showcase regatta and the variety of testing, different breezes have conspired to deliver a high scoring regatta in most classes.

The Men’s 470, 49erFX, Finn, Laser Radial, and the Nacra 17 were all settled during the last day of Finals racing today. The offshore and cross-offshore breeze may have reached 17 or 18 knots at times but it was peppered by big shifts and changes in pressure which made it all too easy to make a 20-plus point bogey race score which terminated title hopes in several classes.

Great Scott
Britain’s Olympic champion Giles Scott maybe matched his Sailing World Cup Miami performance in the sense he, again, won with a day to spare but the Bay of Palma this week offered a 73-boat fleet to the end, nearly three times the size of the world cup fleet.

As if to prove just how difficult it was to read the shifty breeze, Scott was caught out in the penultimate series race, his worst score of the week. His target consistency is to stay within a 5 point average per race and Scott accomplished that.

“I think I just concentrated on putting myself in positions where I could manage it with a bit less risk,” said Scott. “It is tricky to know here when to take some leverage and try to make the big gain or when to try to be conservative. Either can land you in the crap.

“I have been able to play that game quite well this week. That is probably why I have not really had any real proper shiners of races but have been nicely consistent around that 5 mark which in these fleets of 70 odd boats is good. But this is such a different game to where World Sailing is heading with 20-25 boat fleets.”

Experience is the key
Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS) had a long day on the water, their second 470 Men’s race seeming to take an age to be set off because the winds refused to cooperate and finally it was abandoned. But the Australians’ tally of 29 points leaves them 35 clear ahead of Turkey’s second placed Deniz and Atez Cinar. Belcher has been coming to the Trofeo Princesa Sofia for 16 years. This is the first major event he won, triumphing here with Malcolm Page in 2003.

“To win here again 15 years after winning our first big regatta is pretty special,” Belcher acknowledged.

This is his fifth 470 class win at the Princesa Sofia after 2003, with other titles in 2012, 2013, and 2016. Key to their win, Belcher says, is being fresh and relaxed after their break from sailing. Although he has been coming to Mallorca for more than 15 years, he reveals that for the first time he will now take two or three days to explore and relax in the north of the island before heading to Hyeres.

“It is a nice feeling to have it won already,” said Belcher. “We just wanted to see where we are at and so we felt we raced pretty consistently this week. We had good speed but the break has helped and we are really relaxed here. We had no expectation and no pressure. We just tried to enjoy the racing. We have so much experience in these boats and I have been here so much you know the conditions. That all helps a lot.”

If Belcher and Ryan’s winning margin is comprehensive in the 470, their younger Australian compatriot Matthew Wearn fell just one point short. With a 19 point lead in the Laser, he should have a relatively straightforward task to close out his first Sofia overall win.

But in the Laser Radials, Denmark’s 2015 world champion Anne Marie Rindom has the job done, leaving 2016 world champion Alison Young and gold medallist Marit Bouwmeester with food for thought, more than 30 points adrift.

Italians Atone
A bitter disappointment in the final race of the 2017 Nacra 17 World Championship, when they erroneously hit Spain’s Iker Martinez and Olga Maslivets at the first windward mark approach, robbed the young Italians Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti of their chance to win the world title.

Their error has preyed on their minds and has been just one spur to work even harder at their Cagliari, Sardinia training base over the winter. So too the arrival in the Sardinian capital of the Luna Rossa America’s Cup program. The Italians have built an unassailable margin in the Nacra 17, often showing a downwind speed edge in the breeze.

“The accident was a motivation because we were so close to winning and it could have been avoided,” Tita admitted. “We are so happy to win the first event of the season. We have been in Cagliari for the whole winter with good partners and that was really important for our programme. Here we were really quick, mostly downwind. We have always been fast downwind in the strong winds but for the light winds days we were in trouble, so we did well today.”

Double Dutch?
The 49erFX win for the Netherlands Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz was also conclusive. But with their Dutch counterparts Odile Van Aanhot and Marieke Jongens lying second, there is evidence their squad rotation is working.

After rotating each different viable combination of the nine FX squad sailors the two – who sailed together seventh in Rio – are back together again. This week they have been helped by Aaron McIntosh who coached their double Olympic RS:X gold medallist Dorian Van Rijsselberge.

“He has been a great help,” shared Bekkering. “He emphasizes to keep it simple and don’t over complicate things. If you know it go for it. We have improved a lot since we won here in 2016, for sure.”

Of the squad rotation policy Duetz adds, “It is very positive and you can see the level of the whole Dutch team has stepped up. We share our experience, everyone has different strengths but we are all pushing each other all the time in training. That is powerful.

“Every training is racing each other. We are friends on shore but as soon as we are all on the water we want to beat each other. But we all get all as friends. The nine of us are all different and that keeps it interesting. Now we are open to being different and doing our own things.”

The Medal races start from 1100hrs local time tomorrow.

Canada, Mexico, USA update:
Only two of the 41 entrants will advance to the Medal Races tomorrow, represented by Americans Chris Barnard (4 – Laser) and Stu McNay/ Dave Hughes (9 – 470 Men), with only Barnard a medal contender though still trailing the podium by 14 points. All the others fell outside the top 20 other than Americans Paige Railey (12 – Radial), Riley Gibbs/ Louisa Chafee (12 – Nacra 17), Luke Muller (13 – Finn), and Erika Reineke (13- Radial).

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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