Monthly Archives: March 2013
Nacra 17 fleet – © Martinez Studio
Practice Race Day – Trofeo Princessa Sofia Mapfre in Palma
A solid 15 – 18 knot cool Westerly breeze tested the aspiring Olympic sailors in the Bay of Palma on the opening day of the 44th Trofeo Princessa Sofia Mapfre. As the practice race day the results were unimportant but time of the water to hone skills invaluable.
Here is a selection of images from the official event photographers, Nico Martinez and Jesus Renedo to wet the appetite.
470 Women Cassandre Blandin and Charlotte Mery De Bellegarde FRA – © Jesus Renedo www.sailingstock.com
49er FX Tamara Echegoyen and Berta Betanzos ESP – © Jesus Renedo www.sailingstock.com
49er FX Cantero-Izquierdo and Ana Hernandez Moreno ESP – © Jesus Renedo www.sailingstock.com
Finn Josh Junior NZL – © Jesus Renedo www.sailingstock.com
RSX Mens fleet start – © Martinez Studio
Nacra action – photo c Martinez Studio
470 fleet starting together – © Jesus Renedo www.sailingstock.com
All photos – 44th Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mapfre
photo © Cat Robson / www.seahazephotography.co.uk
Day 1 – Singha OK Dinghy Worlds at Pattaya, Thailand
This could get monotonous. Another day of perfect conditions greeted the 70 sailors at the Singha OK Dinghy World Championships in Pattaya, Thailand. The first two races were staged in a 12-18 knot hot breeze with race wins going to defending champion Andre Budzien (GER) and Roger Blasse (AUS).
The breeze built during the day to end with a leg stretching 18 knots by the finish of the second race. Tonight Royal Varuna Yacht Club is full of very tired but satisfied sailors as they enjoy the spectacular view over the Gulf of Thailand and the free refreshments provided by Singha.
Race one got under way under the new ‘U’ flag with three boats pulled out on the restart. Paul Rhodes (NZL) rounded the top mark first from the left from a group consisting of Andre Budzien, Roger Blasse and Nick Craig (GBR). Rhodes overlaid the second top mark after overestimating the tide and let Budzien through. The laylines were hard to call with big courses and the left paying well. The German dominated the rest of the race with Craig pulling up behind Blasse at the finish. Both thought Craig had done enough, but Blasse took third.
Practice race winner Blasse took the early lead in race two and with a change of tide the course turned into a one way track with the left very clearly favoured. He was closely followed round the top mark by Mike Williams (AUS) and Jonathan Fish (GBR) as the wind increased to 15-16 knots and the upwind legs became hard work for some. Blasse pulled away downwind to lead throughout the race with Williams, Craig and Rhodes in close pursuit, though they finished in that order.
Craig said,”It was another day in paradise. We had simply perfect conditions though the beats were very long. Controlling the left was the key to the racing, and by the end it was a bit one track, but as the week goes on that will change as the time of the tides gets later.”
Blasse commented, “It was fantastic sailing but you had to turn left at the bottom mark. The lumpy conditions and the tide makes it hard to assess your boat speed but it looks like it’s going to be a tough week ahead.”
Two more race are scheduled for Monday at 13.00hrs before the fleet enjoys a lay day on Tuesday to sample the delights of Pattaya.
photo © Cat Robson / www.seahazephotography.co.uk
Results after Day 1: (top 20 from 70)
|1||AUS 749||Roger Blasse||3||1||4|
|2||NZL 517||Paul Rhodes||2||4||6|
|3||GBR 2150||Nick Craig||4||3||7|
|4||GER 782||Andre Budzien||1||7||8|
|5||DEN 1411||Jorgen Svendsen||6||5||11|
|6||AUS 730||Michael Williams||10||2||12|
|7||DEN 1409||Stefan Myralf||5||9||14|
|8||AUS 735||Mark Jackson||11||6||17|
|9||AUS 754||Brent Williams||7||11||18|
|10||NZL 544||Greg Wilcox||8||15||23|
|11||DEN 1364||Jorgen Lindhardtsen||14||10||24|
|12||DEN 1421||Bo Petersen||9||16||25|
|13||GBR 2118||Terry Curtis||12||14||26|
|14||GER 693||Martin von Zimmermann||16||12||28|
|15||AUS 734||Edward O’Donnell||13||22||35|
|16||NZL 542||Alistair Deaves||23||13||36|
|17||NOR 472||Jens Makholm||17||21||38|
|18||GBR 2138||Robert Deaves||21||18||39|
|19||AUS 727||Don Williams||19||20||39|
|20||AUS 741||Gary Lokum||24||19||43|
For full results see: varuna.org/day-one-overall/
By Robert Deaves, OK Dinghy Class
Preview of 49er and 49er FX racing at the Palma World Cup
The 2013 Palma World Cup regatta is the real kick off of the Rio quadrennial for Olympic Sailing. The 10 events are set, Olympians are most back from any post London breaks, and a large fleet has assembled in Palma to place a marker down for the next 4 years.
In the 49er class we have the largest fleet ever to attend the Palma regatta with 80 boats. That’s without a few of the top names who are out on America’s Cup duty.
The fleet will be split into 2 qualifying fleets of up to 40 boats each. The 49erFX fleet will also be the largest ever assembled in their first year here, and it will also be the largest fleet ever for the new event. There are 36 teams registered, so that’s another maximum size skiff fleet. The race committee will have a very difficult week trying to fit 9 maximum size skiff races in each day.
Racing starts Monday, and with forecast gusts into the 30’s it’s hard to say if the fleet will get any racing in. This forecast is quite typical for Palma at this time of year. In a week we can expect to see a full range of conditions, from survival to drifter with a few nice days in the teens mixed in.
If the forecast holds, then Tuesday’s racing will be critical for the 49er teams trying to qualify. The seas will be quite lumpy following the big blow that is already on and with puffs into the upper teens, these teams will likely have quite a lot on just to get around the course, let alone race in a fleet of 40 boats. It will be skiff sailing at it’s best.
The same holds true for the 49erFX sailors. For almost everyone in the fleet it will be the first time racing skiffs in a large fleet format. There are many teams with vast amounts of experience in other boats, but learning skiff tactics in large waves and higher wind speeds will be a massive challenge.
Having a look through the fleet lists, it’s hard to say who will emerge from the pack in the 49er to claim this title. There are a number of experienced teams here as well as some younger teams who have already made early impressions.
First off has got to be the twin Danish threats of Norregard/Thompsen and Warner/Lang. Both of these medal winning teams have made crew trades recently, but it is hard to see them falling back at all. The Danish squad will be one to watch for the full 4 years.
In terms of returning Olympians, we also have the Croatian team of Costov/Kupac, now season veterans of the fleet and Frenchmen Dyen/Christidis. Dyen and Christidis won Palma twice in the past quad and with a windy forecast, these two levers could easily take the title again if they’ve kept their skills up through the winter. They’ll be pushed hard by three other experience french teams including the 2012 European Champoins Frei/Rocherieux.
Then there is the British squad, 12 teams deep this year. There is a ton of returning experience in this group and some up and coming teams as well including 2012 Youth World Champions Peters/Fitzgerald. Any of about 6 of these teams could end up on the podium this week.
There is a strong contingent from the Americas over in Europe this spring, with 3 teams from Brazil, Argentina, and the USA respectively. These teams have had the benefit of already getting a few regattas under their belts this year and includes both the 2013 North American Champions and the 2013 Miami World Cup winners.
The 49erFX fleet is wide open at the beginning of the quad. There are large teams from Sweden, the UK, Denmark, and Germany. There is also the Brazilian’s Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze who have won both of the events so far in 2013 in much smaller fleets. Most of the teams are treating this event as just more practice, as they are all so new to the boat. It will still be interesting to see where the various squads and teams are so far in their development.
The finish of the week will be another test of Theatre Style racing for the 49ers. A normal, low point scoring system, will be used to close the regatta in what should spectacular fashion. Few of these teams have seen the Theatre Style yet in person so it will be another learning experience for the sailors and race organizers.
By 49er Class media, see: www.49er.org
Iker and Tara will be coached by Fernando Echávarri, Tornado Olympic champion in 2008 – photo c Martinez Studio
The double Olympic medallist is very enthusiastic about this new challenge
The twice Spanish Olympic medallist, 49er sailor Iker Martinez will debut at the Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mapfre with 470 women World and European champion Tara Pacheco as crew on board the new Olympic multihull, the Nacra 17, at the start of the journey to Río 2016.
The crew of team Movistar who made the announcement a few days ago said “he was willing to start this Olympic project” and is aware of the huge work left ahead.
“Only a few sailors have achieved success in different Olympic disciplines and for me it is a nice challenge to face up to. Now we have the opportunity with the Nacra 17 and we are going to make the best of it” pointed out Iker Martinez, who together with Xabi Fernández has won two Olympic medals, three World titles and many other European titles in the 49er class.
During all this time he has combined Olympic and Oceanic sailing in which he has also achieved several victories at the Volvo Ocean Race and a feat at the Barcelona World Race: to achieve together with Fernández being the fastest Spanish team up to date to race around the world. The Basque team needed only 94 days to race around the world, two crew non-stop finishing second overall and being the first Spanish crew to race around the world never returning ashore and with no external assistance.
“The normal step following the two Olympic medals and being involved in Oceanic sailing would have been to continue involved with big boats, with more financial security and less dependence on the results to obtain grants, but I’m passionate about Olympic sailing and I wish to continue battling while I still have strength and enthusiasm” explained the Movistar team sailor.
Iker further explained that he would dedicate his energy to the campaign but still left the door open to a return to offshore racing in the next Barcelona World Race with good friend and sailing partner Xabi.
This is the reason why he had been considering for quite a while the idea of getting on board the new Olympic multihull, the Nacra 17, a mixed crew in accordance with the class rules.
“The Nacra 17 is a new class that will develop a lot in the coming years so we’ll have to work hard “ pointed out the Movistar sailor. “There are many unknown issues about this multihull, nobody knows the ideal weight or if a men is better than a women as skipper, or how to sail the boat … To some extent, starting in this class is throwing a coin in the air and the only way to get all the answers is : sailing!” added the Basque sailor.
When asked Iker comfirmed he would steer the cat!
After more than six years sailing in the 470 women with Berta Betanzos, “we needed a change of class and we decided to find new options separately. At the beginning I thought about the 49er FX with a crew member. Then the opportunity came up to sail with Iker in the Nacra 17 class and I couldn’t say no! He phoned me one day and talked about the possibility of sailing together so we met in Murcia and we tried what it would be like to sail as a team” explained Tara Pacheco, 2011 470 womens 2011 World and European champion.
Aware that they are starting from scratch, Tara has affirmed “the Nacra 17 is new for both of us and we need to learn and get to know a lot about the boat”.
For the 24 year old Canary Islands sailor, sailing with Iker Martinez is a great opportunity: “Iker’s impressive record of results stands on its own, few words or explanations are needed to describe what kind of sailor he is. That adds some pressure but I believe we’re both very hard workers and that’s exactly what I have always looked for and wanted as a team. His capacity of work and sacrifice is one of his best virtues, besides knowing how to build a team and gather people together”.
In this new Olympic challenge, the Movistar tandem has one goal in mind: be at the Rio 2016 Games. Four intense years of work ahead for Iker and Tara who will be coached by Fernando Echávarri, Tornado Olympic champion in 2008.
“This is the beginning of a new project with the highest expectations possible, commented Echávarri. Iker and Tara are great sailors, incredibly involved in any of the challenges they go for. It will be very interesting to see the capacity to adapt to a new way of sailing and to a crew of the opposite sex; undoubtedly, a real challenge to which I will contribute as much as I can”.
For more details see: http://www.trofeoprincesasofia.org
Pippa Wilson and John Gimson in action in the Nacra 17 multihull
The road to Rio begins in earnest this week for British sailors, with new boats, new crews and new racing formats being put to the test at the start of the 2016 funding cycle.
The Princess Sofia Trophy – the first European leg of the ISAF Sailing World Cup circuit – kicks off in Palma, Majorca, on Monday 1 April, with Beijing gold medallist Pippa Wilson and double Olympic silver medallist Joe Glanfield two familiar faces who are returning to the British Sailing Team ranks in a bid for Rio glory.
The regatta, which runs until Saturday 6 April, sees 61 British team sailors among the 850-strong international entry.
Glanfield, 33, announced earlier this month that he was to join forces with 2012 silver medallist Luke Patience in the 470 class, while Wilson – one of the famed ‘three blondes’ who claimed Yngling gold in 2008, is returning after a break from the sport, and will compete in the new Nacra 17 mixed multihull event with John Gimson.
The Yngling was removed from the Olympic programme after Wilson’s triumph with the Sarah’s Ayton and Webb in Beijing, and although she tried out alternative classes, including a 470 partnership with eventual 2012 silver medallist Saskia Clark, Wilson stopped sailing competitively in 2009 to gain ‘fresh air away from the sailing circuit’.
“I felt that I just didn’t have the motivation emotionally or physically to give the campaign what it deserved,” the 27-year-old recalled. “I was fearful of compromising Saskia’s chances of winning the gold in 2012 and I wanted to commit fully to her, but in my heart I couldn’t.
“I needed some time to develop away from sailing. I knew the decision I was making meant missing London 2012 – time just goes too quickly – and I knew that it would be an incredible Olympic Games, but I felt I had no choice. I needed space, new motivation and some fresh air away from the sailing circuit.”
Wilson admits it didn’t take long for her to miss the sport, and while she found the 2012 Games inspiring, she had already resolved before last year’s Olympics that she would be returning to take up the challenge of multihull sailing in the new Nacra 17.
“It is fantastic to be faced with such a difficult challenge, mentally, physically and with a new teammate. That is what the Olympics and life is all about – so John and I have accepted the challenge and every day is focussed on trying to become the best in the world in this new discipline.
“It is a very large mountain to climb, and the road will be full of highs and lows, but at the moment it feels like home to be out on the water following a new dream and trying to make the best of every day.”
Wilson and Gimson will be one of four British crews competing in the Nacra for the first time at the Palma regatta, with Olympic match racing helm Lucy Macgregor also making the switch to sail with Tom Phipps, the 470 European silver medallist Ben Saxton taking up the challenge with Hannah Diamond, and Rupert White and Nikki Boniface – former ISAF Youth World Champions – completing the British line-up.
British crews will also be making their competitive debut in the 49er FX – the newly-introduced women’s skiff for Rio – with four teams taking to the startline. The British Sailing Team is experimenting with a squad rotation system during the early part of the season, with helm and crew combinations changing between regattas.
Kate Macgregor, former Elliot 6m match racing crew and sailing with Mary Rook for the Palma event, thinks the change in approach will benefit the new squad.
“I think getting as much experience from each other as possible is important. We’ve all come from completely different backgrounds, so learning from each other – even the helms learning from each other as well – will be really valuable to the squad.”
The younger Macgregor sister is looking forward to getting some racing experience under her belt in the fast and challenging new boat, regardless of the outcome at this first event.
“I’ve never actually raced in a skiff, ever, so that’s going to be the biggest learning curve for me. I think I need to not focus too much on the results, but just look at how I race a skiff, and how different the tactics are. Also the boat-handling – at this stage we just need to get completely on top of our boat-handling and not focus too much on the results.”
Macgregor and Rook will be joined on the startline by fellow British sailors Charlotte Dobson-Sophie Ainsworth, Penny Clark-Nicola Groves and Frances Peters-Pippa Taylor.
Luke Patience and Joe Glanfield will compete at their first major international event this week, while Patience’s former crew Stuart Bithell will also be racing for the first time since making the switch to sail in the 49er class with Chris Grube. Two-time 470 World Champion Nic Asher has also joined the 49er ranks, sailing with Fynn Sterritt, while British 49er stalwarts Stevie Morrison-Ben Rhodes, Dylan Fletcher-Alain Sign, Dave Evans-Ed Powys and John Pink, now sailing with Simon Wheeler will also be on the Palma startline.
Bryony Shaw, who recently picked a silver the RS:X World Windsurfing Championships, will be in action on Palma Bay this week, as will the 2011 Finn World Champion Giles Scott. Scott has been taking a sabbatical from the Finn while he competes with the Luna Rossa America’s Cup team this year, but will rejoin his old squad mates Andrew Mills and Mark Andrews in the Olympic heavyweight class for the Palma and Hyeres World Cup regattas in April.
Nick Thompson and Alison Young will be among the names to watch in the single-handed Laser and Radial events, while Megan Pascoe will be aiming for back to back World Cup victories in the 2.4mR Paralympic class following her success in Miami in January.
RS:X World Champion Nick Dempsey has opted to skip the Palma event, leaving development squad sailors Tom Squires and Sam Sills to fly the flag in the men’s windsurfing event, while 470 European Champion Sophie Weguelin will be racing for the first time in the 470 women’s event with new crew Eilidh McIntyre.
ISAF and the regatta organisers are continuing to trial experimental racing and scoring formats for the Olympic classes at the World Cup series events, including stadium racing for the 49er and FX classes, and two medal races for all other classes.
“It’s an exciting time,” said RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park. “We have new classes, new boats in action for the first time, new partnerships both in our country and other countries, new racing formats and new scoring systems being trialled – all of which add to the interest and entertainment.
“As to whether any of the above will be a success, time will tell, but it’s great to get the new cycle and the new season underway and see how the winter’s training is paying off.”
By Lindsey Bell, RYA: www.britishsailingteam.com
New team pairing of Mat Belcher and Will Ryan – photo c Jeff Crow
Australian sailors will get their first taste of European competition for the new Olympic cycle when racing begins at the ISAF Sailing World Cup round in Spain on Monday.
Large fleets will take to the waters of the Bay of Palma, with new classes and new combinations keen to get the early jump on their competition.
Palma is the third round of the ISAF Sailing World Cup, following events in Melbourne and Miami, with 15 Australian crews making the trip to Spain for the event.
London 2012 Olympic Games gold medallist Mathew Belcher will contest his first European event with new crew Will Ryan, with the pair heading to Spain off the back of a strong build up in Australia.
Belcher and Ryan have won all four regattas they have contested together since teaming up at the end of 2012, with Belcher’s winning streak stretching back to November 2011, and Ryan is looking forward to taking on a strong 470 men’s fleet next week.
Belcher and Ryan will be joined in the 72 boat 470 men’s fleet by another new Australian combination, with Angus Galloway and Tim Hannah to contest their first European event together.
Five Australian sailors will line up in the Laser fleet, including current world number one Tom Burton. Burton finished on the podium in Spain last year and comes into the event in form having just won the Mussanah Race Week in Oman, and the Australian Laser Championships and Sail Melbourne prior to that.
Burton will be joined in Spain by Australian team mates Ashley Brunning, Ryan Palk, Jared West and Matthew Wearn.
The Finn fleet will be one of the largest at this round of the ISAF Sailing World Cup with three Australians in the mix, including London 2012 Olympian Brendan Casey, Oliver Tweddell and Jake Lilley.
Casey has started this year’s ISAF Sailing World Cup well, with an opening round win in Melbourne and then a fifth place finish in Miami in January.
Fellow Australian Oliver Tweddell will compete in Palma for the first time with the 22 year old looking forward to the challenges ahead of him.
Queensland sailor Ashley Stoddart will be the sole Australian in the Laser Radial fleet, with Patrick Vos racing in the RS:X men’s class.
Three Australians will line up in the RS:X women’s class, Joanna Sterling, Annalise Gilbert and Paris Stowell.
By Craig Heydon, Yachting Australia
Andrew Murdoch joins the heavyweights in the Finns – photo Richard Gladwell
A team of New Zealand’s Olympic class sailors are gearing up for ISAF Sailing World Cup Palma where racing is set to get underway on Easter Monday.
With the NZL Sailing Team’s big guns – our 2012 Olympic medallists – targeting other international regattas in coming months and not sailing in Palma, the door is open for some of the less well known campaigners to step into the spotlight in Palma and make their mark early on in the four year Olympic cycle.
“I’m delighted to have this exciting young group of sailors together getting back into the international competition that the ISAF Sailing World Cup offers,” says Jez Fanstone, High Performance Director at Yachting New Zealand.
Eleven kiwi individuals or crews, including five NZL Sailing Team representatives, are entered in six events; they include…
- Andrew Murdoch – Finn (NZL Sailing Team)
- Josh Junior – Finn
- Andy Maloney – Laser (NZL Sailing Team)
- Sam Meech – Laser (NZL Sailing Team)
- Thomas Saunders – Laser
- Paul Snow-Hansen and Dan Willcox – 470 Men (NZL Sailing Team)
- Francisco Lardies and Luke Stevenson 470 Men
- Marcus Hansen and Josh Porebski – 49er (NZL Sailing Team)
- Alexandra Maloney and Molly Meech – 49er FX
- Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders – Nacra 17
- Tomer Simhony (sailing with an international partner) – Nacra 17
While Andrew Murdoch’s name is hardly unfamiliar this regatta marks his international debut sailing in the Finn class. The two-time Olympian in the Laser class (placing fifth in both Beijing 2008 and London 2012) has switched classes opening his Finn campaign at New Zealand’s domestic regattas – 2013 Oceanbridge Sail Auckland and the 2013 Finn National Championships.
“I’m really excited,” says Murdoch. “It’s an opportunity to learn. Later in the year if I want to be at the front of the fleet at the World Champs I need to be resourceful and work hard with this time now. It’s really a race to learn as much as I can, as fast as I can with as many people as I can.”
Josh Junior will be the other kiwi to watch in the Finn class.
Lining up in the 49er event are key training partners to Peter Burling and Blair Tuke during the last cycle, Marcus Hansen and Josh Porebski – they will be the NZL Sailing Team’s only entrant in the 49er skiff class in Palma this year.
Placing sixth in last year’s 49er World Championships the pair, both just 20 years of age, earned their place in the NZL Sailing Team and clearly have the talent to produce results when starting in a world class fleet.
A total of three kiwis will compete in the Laser including Andy Maloney fresh from a silver podium finish at Musannah Race Week in Oman where a good number of the world’s top Laser sailors were getting familiar with their 2013 World Championship venue (mid November). Sam Meech and Thomas Saunders are the other two New Zealanders in the fleet.
2012 Olympian Paul Snow-Hansen has a new partner in Dan Willcox, preparing now for the start of racing in the Men’s 470 class in Palma.
And New Zealand sailors will race in two events new to the Olympic schedule for 2016 Rio including the 49er FX chosen as the Women’s skiff, and also the Nacra 17 selected as the mixed multihull boat for the next Olympic Games.
Alexandra Maloney and Molly Meech clean up in Australia and New Zealand – photo Richard Gladwell
Alexandra Maloney and Molly Meech have dominated in the 49erFX at Australian and New Zealand regattas during the southern summer and will be eagerly anticipating the chance to race in a large international fleet at the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Palma.
Jason Saunders, 2012 Olympian in the 470 class, is now in partnership with Gemma Jones taking on the exciting challenge of the mixed multihull class – the Nacra 17.
By Jodie Bakewell-White, Yachting New Zealand
Nacra 17 sailors in action in Miami in January – photo c Mick Anderson
Regatta begins European Olympic sailing season
“Now that we are in the early days of the Rio 2016 Olympic Quad, an event like Sailing World Cup Palma is a good opportunity for U.S. sailors to gain high-level racing experience in the international fleet while working on new techniques, equipment, and, in some cases, teams,” said Josh Adams, Managing Director of U.S. Olympic Sailing. “For the sailors who have committed to sailing in Europe, this regatta is a starting off point for additional events through the spring and summer.”
US athletes competing:
- 470 Men – Stuart McNay and David Hughes*
- 470 Women – Anne Haeger and Briana Provancha*
- 470 Women – Sydney Bolger and Sarah Lihan * **
- 49er – Fred Strammer and Zach Brown*
- 49er – Ryan Pesch and Trevor Burd*
- 49er – Brad Funk and Erik Aakhus **
- 49er FX – Kristen Lane and Christine Neville **
- Finn – Caleb Paine *
- Finn – Gordon Lamphere *
- Laser – Charlie Buckingham *
- Laser – Erik Bowers
- Nacra 17 – Sarah Newberry and John Casey
- RS:X Women – Farrah Hall
* Denotes member of US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider
** Denotes member of US Sailing Development Team
For more info see: event website.
By Dana Paxton, US Sailing
More training shots from the lens of Jesus Renedo of the new Olympic Nacra 17 crews getting down to business in a bumpy Bay of Palma before the start of the Sailing World Cup regatta starting over Easter weekend.
With an abundance of past Olympians the class is showing all the signs of a great spectacle!
All photos – c Jesus Renedo
However the pounding that these new boats have gone through for the last few weeks has taken its toll. Several boats have developed cracks in hulls whilst breakages have occurred to daggerboards and rudders. The new Delta Lloyd Dutch team boats seem to have particularly suffered.
As GBR Team Manager ‘Sparky’ comments, “These boats have not been designed to withstand 20 days of hard sailing by Olympic athletes”. These new build issues are on top of the withdrawal of carbon masts until later in the Summer when the new versions will be distributed. There have been some complaints about the strength of the sails as well.
Hopefully these are all teething problems related to a new class and that the boats will be strengthened to deal with their new challenges.
Alicia Cebrian (ESP) returns to action in Palma – photo © www.MartinezStudio.es
Trofeo Princesa Sofía Mapfre in Palma de Mallorca
The 44th Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mapfre, the first European stage of the ISAF Sailing World Cup, is set to start in Palma from the 31st of March to the 6th of April for all ten Olympic classes and the 2.4m Paralympic class.
This new Olympic quadrennial sees many changes with new faces and different opportunities for sailors seeking new challenges. Many of the stars of the 2012 Olympiad have moved on to new projects leaving places for young and eager sailors who have not lost any time starting their Olympic campaigns, and for many it will start in Palma.
Only three of last years’ winners will be back to defend their titles. Alicia Cebrian (ESP) will try to repeat last years form with the absence of her closest rivals and Olympic medallists in the Laser Radial.
Mat Belcher (AUS), who added the 470 Sofia title to his impressive tally in 2012, went on to win Olympic Gold, is back in Palma with new crew Will Ryan (AUS). Pierre Leboucher (FRA) third in Palma last year, will be sailing with coach Nicolas Leberre. However, the newly combined team of British Olympic Silver medallists, Luke Patience (London) and Joe Glanfield (Beijing and Athens) will be among the ones to watch, along with London Bronze medallists Lucas Calabrese and Juan de la Fuente from Argentina.
The 49er will also present some new crews with 2012 Sofia winner and 2008 Gold medallist Jonas Warrer defending his title with London Bronze medallist Peter Lang. Allan Noregaard (London Bronze medal) will start this new Olympic quadrennial with new crew Alders Thomsen. The British teams will be present with two new pairs. Stuart Bithell (with Chris Grube) and Nic Asher (with Fynn Sterritt) have both switched from the 470 to the 49er for the Rio cycle. The french pair of Manu Dyen and Christophe Christidis, winner of the Trofeo Mapfre in 2012 and second last year will come as favourites to challenge the strong Danish squad.
The large Laser fleet will see many favourites try to grab the title. Nick Thompson (GBR) 2011 Worlds runner-up, has climbed on the podium in Palma three times winning the title previously in a post Olympic year 2009. Pavlos Kontides (CYP) London Silver medallist, current world #1 Tom Burton (AUS) third last year in Palma or current world #2 Philip Buhl (GER) winner of Hyères, Kiel and the Europeans in 2012 will all stand a good chance of taking the title. This year will see the return of Tobias Schadewaldt (GER) to the Laser after four years in the 49er.
The title is also open in the Finn class in the absence of last years Palma top three. Olympic bronze medallist Jonathan Lobert (FRA), Laser medallist Vasilij Zbogar, 2011 World and European champion Giles Scott (GBR) or PJ Postma (NED) will face new challengers in Star medallists Bruno Prada (BRA) and Max Salminen (SWE) and other newcomers from the Laser class, New Zealander’s Andrew Murdoch and Josh Junior, Zsombor Berecz (HUN) or Alejandro Foglia from Uruguay.
The women’s 470 fleet has seen a new shape with some of the ‘old’ favourites switching to the 49er FX. Many new, young sailors will make a start on their 470 Olympic campaign in Palma.
Meanwhile, the RS:X class will see minimal attendance after the recent World championship in Brazil. However many class favourites will be present including SWC Miami winner Ivan Pastor (ESP) who should face stiff competition from Ricardo Santos (BRA), Julien Bontemps (FRA) and Toni Wilhem (GER).
In the women’s division SWC Miami winner Maayan Davidovich (ISR) will face the 2013 Worlds silver medallist Bryony Shaw (GBR) and current world no1 Flavia Tartaglini (ITA).
The new Olympic events, the Nacra 17 mixed catamaran and the 49er FX women’s skiff class are set to create a show. They present the perfect opportunity for new challenges for teams seeking to test different skills or search for a fresh start!
The Nacra 17 will create history with a fleet of mixed teams. The Spanish have jumped at the opportunity to showcase some of their most talented sailors: Iker Martinez and Tara Pacheco will bring attention to the Spanish sailing aficionados.
The Nacra has also attracted some of the cream from the London match racing event: Lucy Macgregor (GBR) is seeking a new challenge after Olympic disappointment and has quickly stepped into the Nacra with Tom Phipps, three-time Youth Worlds medallist (including two Golds) in the Hobie 16.
Same fate for another match racer Marie Riou (FRA) who is learning multihull techniques from Tornado sailor Billy Besson. Silke Hahlbrock (GER) is teaming up with Christoph Buttoni.
The Dutch teams will be among the favourites with Mandy Mulder (NED) teaming with 2011 Nacra World Champion Thijs Visser and Renee Groeneveld with Karel Begeman. The keelboat sailors will have to match the multihull skills of the third Dutch team formed by A Class World Champion Mischa Heemskerk and Elke Delnooz.
Other match racers, Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) and the Australian Silver medallists have also embarked on a new course in the 49er FX but will not be in Palma.
Winners are expected to come from traditional multihull countries like the Netherlands, France or Germany with the experienced Tornado sailing Gaebler couple among the favourites.
The 49er FX will see 36 teams on the waters of El Arenal. The teams are a real mix from skiff, 470, Radial and match racing sailors from last Olympic cycle. With only a few regattas held, it is hard to predict who will take the advantage in Palma!
Watch this space: all will be soon revealed!
A practice race will be staged for all classes on Sunday with racing starting on Easter Monday.
For more info see: www.trofeoprincesasofia-mapfre.org
By Neus Jordi as amended by Grand Prix Sailing