Aussies claim Princesa Sofia Trophy

Published on April 7th, 2018

Mallorca, Spain (April 7, 2018) – Australia’s world champions Mat Belcher and Will Ryan, outstanding winners of a strong, competitive 470 class, were awarded the Princesa Sofia Trophy, the top overall award at the biggest ever edition, as the 49th Trofeo Princesa Sofia Iberostar concluded today in light, hesitant breezes.

The regatta for Olympic classes attracted 870 boats from 62 different and more than 1200 sailors.

The 2016 Olympic silver medallists won the tricky medal race today to cap an impressively consistent performance, counting all their results inside the top 10 in a high scoring regatta, to win by 39 point ahead of Turkey’s Deniz and Ates Cidar. Japan’s winners of the class last year at this Balearic showcase regatta, Tetsuya Isozaki and Akira Takayanagi, finished third.

For 8-time world champion Belcher, winning the top overall award at a personal favourite regatta, one he has been coming to since the first time as a 19 year old in 2001, is a particular pleasure, winning the class for the fourth time.

“It is really special to win the overall, this a special event to me having first come here in 2001 and so it is a great credit to the place, here, and the organisers to have so many boats here,” notes Belcher. “It is fantastic. We focus on what we need to do but it really is special to win the overall trophy and it sets high expectations for the season ahead. We love this event.”

Mixed Up Breeze
The clash between the offshore gradient breeze and the thermal sea breeze made for difficult medal racing conditions with big gains and losses made during the class showdowns.

The luxury of already having secured their Sofia titles before the Medal Races meant Giles Scott (GBR) in the Finn, Belcher and Ryan in the 470, Dutch duo Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz in the 49erFX, Italian Nacra 17 pair Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti, and Laser Radial winner Anne Marie Rindom (DEN) could afford a relatively relaxed approach to their final day.

Rindom cruised to sixth in the Radial medal race to win by 15 points ahead of Britain’s 2016 world champion Alison Young. The Danish world champion of 2015 clinched the Sofia title after nine attempts, twice finishing third.

“It is not so much about winning here,” Rindom reported, “Just now it is about good training and making sure I have good technique. I was working a lot on speed through the winter. If you have speed everything else is easy. Light upwind I have been trying different things and it is coming together.”

Comeback from a Cruel Cut

The so called ‘leather medal’, fourth, is the cruelest finish. But Holland’s RS:X racer Lilian De Geus missed bronze in Rio by a single, solitary point. Haunted for the ensuing year by ‘what might have been’ she considers she has put the experience to bed and is looking forwards, training harder and smarter than ever.

She proved the value of her year away from the board and her recent training when she won the RS:X class on the Bay of Palma for the first time. Third and second before she was delighted to start her season on the best note,

“I am going for a medal this time for sure,” said De Gues. “Every day I look back at that one point, what I could have done better. At first it was really hard and I thought about it every, more times a day, now it is less.

“The year after the Olympics I was looking for any distractions, anything to take my mind of it. But I am a bit older and more mature and that helps.”

“At the Games there was one day when they decided to race inside. We had trained a lot but we had never trained in the conditions we got that day inside. One day we had totally different conditions and I had two results not even in the 20s … that was my Olympics. Or the one person I should have passed on a downwind. These are the things that haunt you.”

She adds, “My motivation is so high and I have learned to train more effectively, better, more productive hours on the water. I trained a lot here. We had a bike camp in the summer and Dutch squad sailors. My boyfriend lives here in the town.”

Laser Machine
The impressive Australian Laser medal machine seems well set to continue as past youth world champion Matthew Wearn topped a very strong fleet that included all three Rio medallists. He went into the Medal Race with a 19 point lead and left New Zealand’s Sam Meech, bronze in Rio, to second and Croatia’s 2016 silver medallist Tonci Stipanovic to third. Australia’s Rio Olympic champion Tom Burton was sixth. Three of the Australian Laser sailors finished in the top eight.

“We have had a really solid block of training with our squad back home in the Australian summer, the squad have been working really hard together,” explained Wearn. “Sometimes out there is was better to be lucky than good. We have had a few events at home and then we went to Miami so we have a really good amount of sailing under our belts.”

Wearn, who is Burton’s long time training partner, explained, “The next regatta Tom can come out and do the same thing. That is the way it is in the Laser. It depends on the day. We have a good professional relationship. But we are two guys battling out to be first and second in the world.

“There are heated moments but we both know we need each other as much we do. To get the edge on the fleet come 2020 we need to work hard together. We have a strong thing going in Australia. We are always, always pushing. It is that competitive mind set. We all always want to beat each other.”

While Belcher and Ryan topped the Men’s 470 fleet, Japan proved once again to be in good shape for the approaching home Olympics taking bronze in the Men’s fleet and winning the Women’s 470 in the shape of Ai Konda Yoshida and Miho Yoshioka. Britain’s Hannah Mills, gold medallist, now sailing with Eilidh McIntyre, took second.

“The conditions were difficult but we are quite fast,” said Yoshida who was fifth in the class in Rio. “We have improved every day. We are looking to Aarhus and the world championship.”

Argentina’s Lange brothers, Yago and Klaus, overshadowed world champions Dylan Fletcher-Scott and Stu Bithell to win the 49ers. The British pair were over the start line in the medal race and had to recover through the fleet, finishing three points adrift.

“It was super intense in the Medal Race but we did what we needed to do,” Yago Lange said. “It has been a great week for us. There were 90 boats and so the qualifiers were super hard and then in the Finals we had good races in the windy races, average when it was lighter and then today in the Medal Race we were good, getting first. Aarhus is the main goal, the hard work starts here and there is lots to do to keep improving. But right now we will enjoy the win.”

Poland’s Pawel Tarnowski made a successful defence of the RS:X title he won here last year but he only secured it in the last leg of the Medal Race, passing three rivals in the dying seconds. He dedicated his second successive Sofia win to his own Zofia, his sister whose birthday it is today.

“I told her I would dedicate it to her if I won and I would do my best. So this is for her, my Princess Zofia,” grinned the Polish sailor who missed Olympic selection last time by a few points.

Great Britain’s sailing team collected the biggest haul of medals with five, gold for Scott in the Finn and silvers in the 470 Women, 49er, Laser Radial and Nacra 17. The Netherlands won golds in the 49erFX and RS:X and silver for Nick Heiner in the Finn. New Zealand lifted silvers in the 49erFX and Laser and bronze in the Finn for Andy Maloney. Australia won two golds, in the 470 Men and the Laser.

Canada, Mexico, USA update:
There were no medals for the 41 entrants, with only Americans Chris Barnard in the Laser and Stu McNay/ Dave Hughes in the Men’s 470 advancing to the Medal Race. Barnard finished in fourth, 6 points off the podium while McNay/ Hughes finished tied for ninth but dropped to tenth on the countback. 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).

Correction: The report had previously said Barnard was 22 points off the podium, but has been corrected to reflect his delta was only 6 points.

The 2018 Trofeo Princesa Sofía Iberostar regatta, which lifts the curtain on the European competition season for the Olympic classes, attracted 870 boats and 1215 sailors from 62 different nations. The 49th edition was 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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