Monthly Archives: March 2016
Greece’s Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis
Photos © Jesus Renedo & Pedro Martinez / Sailing Energy / Sofia
Trofeo Princesa Sofia Iberostar in Palma de Mallorca
With one day of Finals competition left on the Bay of Palma before Saturday’s Medal Races finale, it may be too tight to call at the very top of several of the ten Olympic classes, but in many cases Friday, should conclude the quest for most of the remaining nation qualifications for August’s Olympic regatta.
49er Gold fleet could not be closer at the top
For certain when Saturday’s triumphant winners are crowned, each will enjoy an emotional high, a burst of pleasure for an overall victory from a tough, high level series in the Olympic year.
But there is little doubt that those sailors who finally secure one of the last remain national spots in the respective Olympics classes at this last chance regatta will be equally, if not more jubilant. But Friday will leave no margin for errors as several showdowns come to a head.
Stronger breezes today, up to 17 or 18kts at times on the outer courses, produced fabulous, physical racing. In the Men’s 470 Class the starting of the Australians Mat Belcher and Will Ryan, they admitted later, was not their best. But their steady climbs in both races up to a fifth and third for the day keeps them a comfortable 18pts clear of Greece’s Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis.
“We just did not get off the start lines that cleanly.” Will Ryan reported, “Conditions were quite challenging and we were not that pretty at the first mark in both races. We made a few silly mistakes. It does happen! But we are happy to have come back in both races.”
The Greek 470 pair, who tune and train with the Americans Stu McNay and Dave Hughes, did start well and that was enough for them to get a clear lead early on, ensuring that both winning guns were theirs.
Mantis and Kagialis were overlooked for selection in 2012 and the helm says that has spurred them to work doubly hard this time to cement their place in Rio.
“Our speed is good and we stayed clear of the fleet. We were far enough clear. It is good to have a day like this at this stage in the year. We have good speed across the conditions. We missed out on the last trials in 2012, the guys who went did well in the selection. We quit for a while and then came back with a much clearer focus all the way through.”
The race for the remaining nation berth in the Men’s 470 class remains very close with Ukraine’s Boris Shvets and Pavlo Matsuyev lying in 15th leading Italy’s Matteo Cappuro and Matteo Puppo by two points. The Italian helm is just 19 whilst Italy’s 2003 World Champion helm Gabriel Zandona and Andrea Trani, who finished fourth in the 2012 Olympic regatta, are fighting to keep their Olympic dream alive from 20th place.
Correspondingly in the Women’s 470 fleet, among the as yet non qualified European nations there are just five points between Finland’s Niki Blaser and Mikaela Wulff and Israel’s Noya Bar-Am in 19th and 22nd respectively with Estonia’s Marjalisa and Elise Umb a further 12pts further back. Theirs will be just one of the engaging battles on Friday.
After four Finals races the Women’s 470 fleet is lead by the Brazilian duo Fernanda Oliveira and Ana Barbachan, but their scoreline took a hit today when they were scored UFD for breaking the start line early, a penalty they discard but which might yet hurt their final scoreline. Top scoring 470 Women’s crrew today were GBR’s Amy Seabright and Anna Carpenter whose pair of fourth places return them to third overall.
The 49er Gold fleet could not be closer at the top but the remaining European nation’s spot in Rio has been secured by Sweden. After today’s four races all three top crews share exactly the same points tally, Germany’s Eric Heil and Thomas Ploessel elevate their German selection chances with two wins today. Austria’s Nico Dell Karth and Nikolaus Resch lie second on countback with Ireland’s Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern third.
A sportsmanlike act by the 13th placed British pair James Peters and Finn Sterrit – lending a boat to Germany’s 9th placed – Justus Schmidt and Max Boheme after they broke their mast in the second race of the day – kept the unlucky duo in the German 49er selection race against the regatta leaders.
Asked by the Germans’ coach if they would help out the British pair had no hesitation and swapped immediately allowing them to sail the next two races.
James Peters explained: “For them this is the finals of their selection trials and effectively the culmination, so far, of their four years of hard work whereas for us it is a warm up for the Europeans and Hyeres. They are good mates of ours and if the situation were reversed you hope others would step up for you. It felt the right thing to do.”
Just as Spain’s Diego Botin and Iago Lopez have been giving the Spanish selectors food for thought after they have not been selected and are 19 places ahead of the brothers, so in the FX class the Netherlands’ Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz are knocking on the doors of the Dutch selectors as they lead the FX fleet by eight points after three back to back wins in today’s brisk breezes.
Netherlands’ Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz
“The country is qualified but our selection trials dont finish until May. It is a bit of a funny situation because we are depending on the other Dutch team who are not here but they have to finish top in the top eight countries and if they don’t then we can go. Only Hyeres counts. We are really focused on what we are doing and love the big breeze.” said Bekkering, “We are a good team and enjoy sailing with each other.”
Feeling the pace
With a margin of no less than 43 points now after today’s racing in the Nacra 17 class world champions Billy Besson and Marie Riou are charting their course to win, once again, with a day to spare. But Riou says even the top crews are finding the pace tough having sailed 12 races: “It was physically hard today. We did three races and had a steady first and two fourth places. Twelve races make it a long regatta so far! For us this regatta is to work on different objectives. We want to improve our starts and our manouevres and so we are working on that. But, if we win, it will be great too!”
Denmark’s world champion Anne-Marie Rindom made a 1, 10 today sharing the race wins with fourth placed compatriot Sarah Gunni Toftedal. Andrew Maloney of New Zealand and Argentina’s Julio Alsogaray were the best today, both scoring 8pts, in the Laser class which Maloney leads by 14pts. In fifth overall five times Olympic medalist Robert Scheidt went 17,1 for the day and is in contention at seven points off second place.
GBR’s Tom Squires held on to his lead in the RS:X men’s fleet for whom business was brisk today and the fleet enjoyed a big increase in windstrength:
“We have not had wind like this for a while so everyone was happy today whether they were doing well or not. We had from 9-20kts. I am confident and it is good to be putting a regatta together. Ironically I am so tired I can’t think about anything other than going in a straight line. I was in Rio and only came back a day before racing started and had a competition in the UK just before that and so I was pretty tired when I got here.” Squires commented.
A long, frustrating afternoon on the water, during which there were multiple start attempts tested the focus of the Finn class. World Champion Giles Scott took a fourth and a win to share the same overall points tally as second placed Josh Junior.
Scott said: “The wind was going right and early on they had a few issues getting the pin end to hold and once they got it to hold, the wind then shifted right which created the same problem again. The fleet was just not playing ball, and rightly so, They were just not prepared to start on a line that was 40 degree biased. So it took a long, long time to get away.”
The challenge for the nation spot in the Finn sees Turkey’s Alican Kaynar leading CZE’s Ondrej Teply by five points. Teply was granted redress after a protest against another sailor who is not in selection contention match raced him into the depths of the fleet. Russia’s Egor Terpigorev is only seven points behind the Turkish sailor, suggesting a tense three cornered sea battle Friday on the Finn course.
Results after Day 4: (Top 3 in each class)
1 Mathew Belcher/ Will Ryan (AUS) 11pts
2 Panagiotis Mantis/Pavlos Kagialis (GRE) 29pts
3 Jordi Xammar/Joan Herp (ESP) 34pts
1 Fernanda Oliveira/Ana Barbachan (BRA) 24pts
2 Afrodite Kyranakou/Anneloes Van Veen (NED) 26pts
3 Amy Seabright/Anna Carpenter (GBR) 29pts
1 Erik Heil /Thomas Ploessel (GER) 46pts
2 Nico Delle/Nikolaus Resch (AUT) 46pts
3 Ryan Seaton/Matt Mcgovern (IRL) 46pts
49er FX Women
1 Annemiek Bekkering/Annerre Duetz (NED) 32pts
2 Jena Mai Hansen/Katja Steen (DEN) 40pts
3 Tiba Lutz/Susann Beucke (GER) 66pts
1 Giles Scott (GBR) 24pts
2 Josh Junior (NZL) 24pts
3 Tapiro Nirkko (FIN) 48pts
1 Andrew Maloney (NZL) 26pts
2 Kristian Ruth (NOR) 40pts
3 Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) 42pts
1 Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN) 27pts
2 Tuula Tenkanen (FIN) 32pts
3 Evi Van Acker (BEL) 34pts
1 Billy Besson/Marie Riou (FRA) 31pts
2 Thomas Zajac/Tanja Frank (AUT) 74pts
3 Allan Norregaard/Anette Vibotg (DEN) 82pts
1 Tom Squires (GBR) 17pts
2 Pawel Tarnowski (POL) 19pts
3 Thomas Goyard (FRA) 24pts
1 Olga Maslivets (RUS) 22pts
2 Maja Dziarnowska (POL) 25pts
3 Flavia Tartaglini (ITA) 26pts
Photos © Jeses Renedo & Pedro Martinez / Sailing Energy / Sofia
Trofeo Princesa Sofia Iberostar in Palma de Mallorca
As the regatta moved into the Finals phase unfortunately the usually reliable sea breezes had not taken note of the transition to the real business end of the key Olympic indicator event.
Through the early part of the racing day light, lazy unsettled airs threatened the schedule. But a long day of waiting – both on the water and around the boat parks – was rewarded with high quality, intense competition for all classes except the RS:X which were signalled AP over A – no further racing – at 1900hrs this evening not having got their first Finals race away.
Breezy or light, Qualifying stages or Finals, there has been no discernible weakness in the performance of the runaway leaders in the Men’s 470 fleet, Aussies Mat Belcher and Will Ryan. Their two wins today step them 14 points clear of USA’s Stu McNay and Dave Hughes. Belcher and Ryan still maintain a scoreline of all firsts, discarding their one third place.
Aussies Mat Belcher and Will Ryan
As they seek to accelerate improvement as much as possible from one Olympic Games to the next, different National Olympic squads embrace entirely different philosophies.
Both of today’s fleet leaders in the Laser class are the product of similar ideals, programmes where four or five sailors work through the whole quadrennial as a close knit, tight unit. Competition within the group hones skill levels, information and knowldges is freely shared. Andy Maloney is top of his New Zealand group of four or five Kiwi Laser sailors along with Sam Meech, who is sitting out this regatta. Maloney’s solid 8,5 today keeps him ahead of Croatia’s 2014 European Champion Tonci Stipanovic who finished fourth at the 2012 Olympic Games.
So, too, in the Laser Radial fleet Denmark’s World Champion Anne Marie Rindom’s two bullets today extend her overall lead. She is the product of what she calls the ‘Danish Model’. The Danes group is coached by Piotr Wojewski and has been together for three years. They started out with four, tapered back to two and now have two younger girls included. That Rindom and Sarah Gunni Toftedal are first and fourth in the Trofeo Princesa Sofia fleet, taking 1,2 in the first Gold Fleet race today, says something for the Danish Model. Or may that yet be proven to be Danish Supermodel!?
“We call it the Danish Model where we all train together and stay together. You dont have to be best friends but we share everything together, we tell each other everything. We started with four girls three years ago. Now we have two of us at the same top level and have two younger girls starting out with us. We all still work together. The level is very high at the top and it is crazy how much we have all improved together. If Sarah (Sarah Gunni Toftedal) and I did not have each other then we would not be where we are. Today we were first and second.” Explains Rindom, ”
“And between the top Laser Radial girls now I think we are all so very strong now in all the conditions. We are working to be good in all conditions. I can be good in strong winds and I can have a great day in light winds. It is much more about being mentally strong now.”
Laser leader Maloney adds: “The regatta is going well so far. Really for me this is a chance to get another big fleet regatta under my belt before going to Hyeres and working on a few things, tactical big fleet things.”
“We have had such a good squad of four of five of us pushing each other all the way through the four years through in training. Now we are at the pointy end of it all. But the selectors will make their choice in May, looking at all the big events. It is really close with Sam (Meech) and we are both sailing really well. Hyeres is the last big event before May so that will be important.”
Italy’s Vittorio Bissaro and Silvia Sicouri
Training alliances are also founded between top crews from different nations. The philosophy of the best learning from close equals, and competition between each other, transcends national team boundaries. In the Nacra 17 Class the French four times world champions Billy Besson and Marie Riou train with Italy’s Vittorio Bissaro and Silvia Sicouri, inviting each other to camps in Cagliari and La Grande Motte respectively. The top two Nacra 17s on today’s rankings, after nine races are Besson and Riou who are now 22 points ahead of the young Italian world championshp bronze medallists.
In the 49er fleet the youthful duo Diego Botin and Iago Lopez are so far delivering the perfect riposte to being overlooked by the Spanish authority for Rio selection. They lead the class 22 places ahead of the Alonso brothers who clinched their selection at the World Championships after what was reported to be some slightly controversial boat on boat racing.
“Although we had our chances and ulimately had hopes to go to Rio, the truth is that we had never really seen us at the Games in Rio”.
Iago Lopez adds: “When we started to compete together our goal was compete at the highest level in Tokyo 2020.”
Australia’s gold medallists Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen are steadily climbing the leaderboard, up to sixth now.
Junior in charge
New Zealand’s Josh Junior holds off world champion Giles Scott in the Finn Class, Australia’s Jake Lilley becoming the only sailor to have won two races when he took the gun in Race 6.
Scott reported: “It was a lot better today. Yesterday was a bit frustrating really. I got it all wrong, a concertina of errors, so its great to get two solid results today and keep myself in there. A long hard day, lots of waiting, and when the wind did come in it came in strong.”
Results after Day 3: (top three)
1 Mathew Belcher/ Will Ryan (AUS) 5pts
2 Stu McNay/Dave Hughes (USA) 19pts
3 Jordi Xammar/Joan Herp (ESP) 20pts
1 Fernanda Oliveira/Ana Barbachan (BRA) 7pts
2 Afrodite Kyranakou/Anneloes Van Veen (NED) 16pts
3 Anne Haeger/Briana Provancha (USA) 20pts
1 Diego Botín/Iago López (ESP) 15pts
2 Nico Delle/Nikolaus Resch (AUT) 18pts
3 Erik Heil /Thomas Plossel (ESP) 20pts
49er FX W
1 Annemiek Bekkering/Annerre Duetz (NED) 25pts
2 Jena Mai Hansen/Katja Steen (DEN) 27pts
3 Charlotte Dobson/Sophie Ainsworth (GBR) 47pts
1 Josh Junior (NZL) 15pts
2 Giles Scott (GBR): 19pts
3 Pieterjan Postma (NED) 24pts
1 Andrew Maloney (NZL) 18pts
2 Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) 25pts
3 Kristian Ruth (NOR) 25pts
1 Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN) 16pts
2 Evi van Acker (BEL) 18pts
3 Tuula Tenkanen (FIN) 20pts
1 Billy Besson/Marie Riou (FRA) 23pts
2 Vittorio Bissaro/Silvia Sicouri (ITA) 55pts
3 Paul Kohlhoff/Carolina Werner (GER) 56pts
1 Tom Squires (GBR) 7pts
2 Byron Kokkalanis (GRE) 10pts
3 Pawel Tarnowski (POL) 13pts
1 Olga Maslivets (RUS) 8pts
2 Charline Picon (FRA) 17pts
3 Marina Alabau (ESP) 17pts
For full results see: www.trofeoprincesasofia.org
Photos © Jesus Renedo & Pedro Martinez / Sailing Energy / Sofia
Trofeo Princesa Sofia Iberostar in Palma de Mallorca
If Day 1 of the Trofeo Princesa Sofia Iberostar proved a close to perfect, straighforward boatspeed day in moderately brisk breezes, Tuesday’s races today were much more about being in the right place, in the best pressure as much as possible.
And so while there a small posse of top sailors who returned a perfect scoreline on the opening day, such consistency was much, much more difficult to achieve from today’s tests of tactics, guile and nerves.
If anything it was a day to be brave, and be guided by gut instinct. Knowing when to tack up when you were into maximum pressure was one key, but maintaining a good lane to make that move was more than half the battle.
The result table toppers in the Men’s 470 and the Laser Radial classes both count all first places – though both Olympic medallists Mat Belcher, and crew Will Ryan of Australia and Evi Van Acker discard their one bigger score, albeit a third and sixth respectively. Clearly their long years of experience have fine tuned their instincts, required on a day like this.
The Men’s 470 Class, racing first on their course area, arguably got the better breeze, finishing Races 3 and 4 of their Qualifying Series before the pressure started to ease slightly in the afternoon. But in every class today there was little which immediately seemed obvious. Witness the Finn Class where World Champion Giles Scott had a tough day, amassing 56 points across the two races. Able to discard the 45th – making the wrong choices, but not the 11th, Scott lies second now to NZL’s Josh Junior.
Further evidence? On the Nacra 17 course the irrepressible French pair Billy Besson and Marie Riou ‘only’ had a sputtering 7,8 start to their day before posting their fourth race win to ensure they still comfortably lead the 37 boat class.
After the early mist was finally burned away and the sea breeze came in Belcher and Ryan sailed a solid day to lead by two points ahead of the US Sailing Team’s Stu McNay and Dave Hughes.
“There was some chop left over from yesterday but it was a beautiful day, fully powered for the 470, 8 – 10kts sometimes a little bit more. It was really good, close racing.” Belcher reported.
“We have the Europeans coming up so we take these opportunities to race against our competitors. Everyone is doing their own programme in the class. We have been doing this for such a long time that we do our own thing and don’t really worry or think about what everyone else is doing or where they are going.”
“We focus on ourselves. We know what worked last time.” affirms the 2012 Olympic gold medal winning helm and six times 470 World Champion, “There are so many things we want to do before the Games. We have a long list. But we are so enjoying our sailing, enjoying the moment and enjoying the build up.”
“We know Rio relatively well now. The diversity of the conditions are good to be able to sail inshore or out. It has been good every time we have been there, so we feel good. It is the most challenging venue we have raced at, big waves offshore and lot of current inshore in flat water and heaps of geographical effects. There is plenty going on.” Belcher concludes.
New Zealand’s singlehanders are showing well so far. Josh Junior and Andrew Maloney now lead the Finn and Laser classes respectively after today and Sarah Winter, counting 2,2,7 to date, is fourth in the Laser Radials. Junior was happy with his results today, considering the choppy, lighter airs are – he says – a bit of an Achilles Heel:
“For me that sort of light air, shifty, choppy conditions are bit of a struggle so it’s pretty cool to get a second and a 14th.”
” It was sea breeze build to about 10 – 12kts, and slowly died. But the biggest factor of our race course was the cliff on the left, creating a wind shadow but also creating a big shift, so it was matter of how far you dig into it. The left was favoured it was just how you did it. It would work one time and the next you would lose a lot.”
Junior, who is coached by Finn bronze medallist John Cutler, reflects on the strength across the classes of the young Kiwi team:
“My knoweldge of the weather and decision making around the race course has come on leaps and bounds.”
“We are lucky to have John coaching. The wider New Zealand team as a whole is quite a young team and we really feed off each other but still have a lot of fun. Most of the team is between 22 and 27 years and we are just great mates and hang out together anyway when we are not racing. We all learn of each other.”
Radial racer Sarah Winther, adds:
“I think we are all laid back enough to go with the flow and don’t get too wound up about things we can’t control. Mine and Andy (Maloney)’s boats only just arrived here from Miami on time and so we did not even know if we would get them. Kiwis are good at going with the flow. Everyone has stepped their game up since the medals in London. We saw how they did things and we figure it out from there. We have some very experienced coaches in Hamish Willcox, Jez Fanstone and now John Cutler who has a medal but who has done America’s Cup and TP52s. So that experience in the team is invaluable.”
Winther’s up and down day – 35, 2 – was mirrored through the classes. Although she is odds on favourite to make it to Rio Denmark’s Laser Radial World Champion Anne-Marie Rindom is fighting her own Olympic selection battle. She has Miami bronze medalist Sarah Gunni Toftedal two places behind on today’s leaderboard. Rindom explained:
“It was hard to make good decisions all the time today. The second race the wind shifted to the left and was dropping and then coming back all the time. It was shifty and up and down. I just need to be 14 points behind the other girl at the worlds to make sure I go.”
“This is such a strong fleet and it is only getting better and better as we get closer to Rio. But I like it in Rio for sure the best allround sailor there will win gold. I just want to make sure it is me.”
In the Laser Men’s fleet Andy Maloney leads Norway’s Kristian Ruth and the USA’s Charlie Buckingham. Ruth is part of a strong Norwegian squad who have trained this winter on the Bay of Cadiz with 1996 Olympian Anton Garrote.
“It was a difficult day with no system to the wind. The direction was similar most of the time but the key was timing. If you tacked too early and we too conservative then others outside you did better. You had to have no fear and good instincts today.” said Laser coach Garrote
Despite the short postponement this morning the regatta schedule is pretty much on course.
Three races were sailed for the 49ers, RS:X and Nacra 17s while the other classes completed two. Austria’s Nico Delle Karth and Nikolaus Resch had the 49er fleet with Spain’s young guns Diego Botin and Iago Lopez second. Gold medallists Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen hit their straps with wins in Races 5 and 6, elevating them to sixth overall.
In the FX Class Denmark’s Miami silver medallists Jena Mai Hansen and Katja Steen Salskov-Iversen lead.
Leading results (Top 3 in each class)
1 Mathew Belcher/ Will Ryan (AUS): 3pts
2 Stu Mcnay/Dave Hughes (USA): 5
3 Anton Dahlberg/ Fredik Bergstrom (SWE): 6
1 Amy Seabright/Anna Carpenter (GBR): 4pts
2 Fernanda Oliveira/Ana Barbachan (BRA): 4
3 Annika Bochmann/Marlene Steinherr (GER): 8
1 Nico Delle/Nikolaus Resch (AUT): 11pts
2 Diego Botín/Iago López (ESP): 14
3 Ryan Seaton/Matt Mcgovern (IRL): 14
1 Jena Mai Hansen/Katja Steen (DEN): 10pts
2 Annemiek Bekkering/Annerre Duetz (NED): 16
3 Martine Grael/Kahena Kunze (BRA): 17
1 Josh Junior (NZL): 9pts
2 Giles Scott (GBR): 15
3 PJ Postma (NED): 15
1 Andrew Maloney (NZL): 5pts
2 Kristian Ruth (NOR): 7
3 Charlie Buckingham (USA): 8
1 Evi Van Acker (BEL):3pts
2 Alison Young (GBR ): 8
3 Tuula Tenkanen (FIN): 10
1 Billy Besson/Marie Riou (FRA): 11pts
2 Paul Kohlhoff/Carolina Werner (GER): 25
3 Thomas Zajac/Tanja Frank (AUT): 26
RS: X Men:
1 Tom Squires (GBR): 4pts
2 Vyron Kokkakanis ((GER): 5
3 Andreas Cariolou (CYP): 8
1 Olga Maslivets (RUS): 4pts
2 Lilian De Geus (ISR): 7
3 Charline Picon (FRA): 7
Photos © Jesus Renedo & Pedro Martinez / Sailing Energy / Sofia
Trofeo Princesa Sofia Iberostar in Palma de Mallorca
During the lead up to the Olympics when you are in a dominant position it is important to keep the pressure on your rivals imposing your advantage on each and every occasion. That was evident on the first day of the Trofeo Princesa Sofia Iberostar where France’s four-times Nacra 17 world champions Billy Besson and Marie Riou composed a perfect opening day with three back-to- back race wins in brisk, near ideal Bay of Palma conditions.
Besson: “The most important thing is to be showing good speed and to be sharp tactically to make good races all the way from the first day to the last day.”
Last month in Clearwater, Florida the duo won the title with a day to spare, once again, and today as the key European season opening regatta started Besson and Riou were seemingly unstoppable in their preferred conditons.
Multihull ace Besson, who was born in Papeete in Tahiti, and Riou have been in the Nacra 17 since it was adopted to the Olympic fold in 2013 and have been the benchmark team pretty much since then. Behind Besson’s sparky personality and perma-smile there is the ferocious work ethic shared by Riou which is keeping clear daylight between them and their rivals, particularly on days like this when the breezes are fresh.
“This regatta is important for us because it is the first in Europe and so it is a big rendezvous and we need to be here. The most important thing is to be showing good speed and to be sharp tactically to make good races all the way from the first day to the last day.”
“Everybody wanted to be here and they are, and so we have to be here doing our best every day.” Besson explains.
Robert Scheidt proved his campaign towards an incredible sixth Olympic medal is close to course when he won the Miami World Cup regatta in January. Since then he has optimised his time training on the Olympic waters of Rio but the Brasilian legend confirms that although it is vital not to overtrain and race too much in the Olympic season, he could not miss racing at the Trofeo Princesa Sofia.
“I have been training a lot in the lighter winds in Rio and so it is important for me to sail in stronger winds too. And so I struggled just a little today with the heavier airs. But it was a great day of sailing. I sailed here two years ago and it is such a wonderful bay to sail in, one of the best in the world in Europe. I want to be in the top three here at the end of the week. I had a good result in Miami.” Scheidt said today after his consistent pair of fourth places in the 12-16kts breezes and bouncy Palma chop.
“I think it is important to manage your time. Some people are focusing a lot to sail in Rio as much as they can. It is important to not just train in Rio but to do some events. I think this early in the season it is key to do big regattas like this. Conditions are nice, it is Spring in Europe. I will have a break and then I will probably also do Hyeres.”
In the 152 boat fleet Argentina’s Julio Alsogaray started best with a 1,2.
In the Laser Radial fleet Denmark’s world champion Anne Marie Rindom started with a pair of wins. Bronze medallist Evi Van Acker (BEL) and the British Sailing Team’s Alison Young also registering opening day winning guns.
Scott on top
The Finn class is at 90 percent proof. World Champion Giles Scott (GBR) has not raced since November last year when he clinched the Gold Cup in New Zealand but opened today with a 1,4. Newly crowned European Champion PJ Postma (NED) lead both breezy, grunty Finn races but young Jake Lilley, chasing Australian selection took the first bullet of the regatta and Scott – who hit the front on the first downwind – won the second race:
Scott recalled: “I managed to get a good surf on the first quarter of the run and punch out into the lead.”
Of the Palma, ‘to order’ conditions Scott commented:
” They are really good conditions. It’s 2 o’clock and we are back on shore. In Palma that’s unheard of. Normally we haven’t even gone out on the water by now. So we are in for lunch, which is great.”
“This regatta is quite an important step for us as we did a lot of important work at the beginning of the year so we want to come here and see where we are at with the work, and hope it is moving in the right direction.”
“Ultimately you can convince yourself of something in training, but it doesn’t really count until you race with it, so that’s the main purpose of the regatta for me.”
USA and Aussies double top
In the Men’s 470 Class the American pair Stu McNay and Dave Hughes, who won in Miami, and Aussies Mathew Belcher and Will Ryan monpolised the winning guns across the two qualifying fleets numbering 79 entries in total.
“It is the first day of qualifying so you have to keep it all in perspective. It is about part of the process.” smiled McNay, “But the winds were beautiful and strong, 15-20kts, big waves. We made clean starts, we were fast upwind and downwind. All the basics were done well!”
“Our selection is not done until after the European Championships. This regatta is about personal excellence, the goal is always to win!”
In the women’s 470 fleet, the British Sailing Team’s Amy Seabright and Anna Carpenter – who won the training regatta here and are training partners to Olympic silver medallists Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark – share the early lead:
“We had a breakage before the first start, the kicker pulled out of the boom, and so that was a tough one to fix.” explained Carpenter,
“But we did well. It was quite stable and the wind picked up through the day with some thermal enhancement and the wind pulled right a little bit in the first race. It was a boatspeed day. It is very different conditions to the training regatta so we are happy. This is a training event for us for the Europeans next week and so we are not focused too much on the overall result.”
Ireland’s Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern have the smallest lead after the first three races of the 49er fleet, chased by four duos all one point behind. Austria’s Nico Delle Karthe and Nikolaus Resch, silver medallists at the 2016 world championships behind the Kiwis, were happy with their opening which included one race win.
“It was what we wanted, a solid qualifying day. We had gusts to probably 18kts and the chop was getting up and so it was really fun sailing. There is no pressure on us here it is a build up to the Europeans.”
“Right side was favoured and whoever could cross the fleet today won. We did it well in the second two races once we realised that!” said Resch.
Gold medallists Nathan Outterridge and Iain Jensen (AUS) won the middle race which they partner to a 12th and 11th, while there was disappointing start to the regatta for GBR’s Dylan Fletcher and Alan Sign. The duo who significantly enhanced their Olympic selection challenge with a bronze medal at the recent world championships in Florida, cracked the aft end of their port wing early in the first race with their shiny brand new boat. They scored DNF, DNC and limped to a 21st with a makeshift, rough fix for the third. But with a little later afternoon composite repair they should be back in the mix Tuesday.
The Netherlands’ Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz count two wins from their three starts in the FX Class. Spain’s newly annointed world champions Támara Echegoyen and Berta Betanzos started modestly, fighting back after a capsizing several times:
“Conditions were so difficult. We have capsized several times, in the first race when we were second, in the second race when we were leading. The most important thing is that we have come back without too much pain, just hurting a little.” said Echegoyen who steered the Spanish women’s crew to Olympic match racing gold in 2012.
The RS:X fleets sailed three races. 2011 World Championship bronze medalist Nimrod Mashiah (ISR) leads the men and Russia’s Olga Maslivets tops the Women’s fleet.
Leading results: (Top 3 in each class)
1 Stu Mcnay / Dave Hughes (USA): 2pts
2 Mathew Belcher / Will Ryan (AUS) 2pts
3 Anton Dahlberg / Fredik Bergstrom (SWE) 5pts
1 Amy Seabright/ Anna Carpenter (GBR): 3pts
2 Tina Mrak / Veronika Macaron (SLO): 3pts
3 Fernanda Oliveira / Ana Barbachan (BRA): 3pts
1 Ryan Seaton / Matt Mcgovern (IRL): 3pts
2 Diego Botín / Iago López (ESP): 4pts
3 Nico Della Karth / Nikolaus Resch (AUT): 4pts
1 Annemiek Bekkering / Annerre Duetz (NED): 2pts,
2 Jena Mai Hansen / Katja Steen (DEN):3pts
3 Charlotte Dobson / Sophie Ainsworth (GBR):5pts
1 Giles Scott (GBR): 4pts
2. Anders Pedersen (NOR): 6pts
3. Josh Junior (NZL): 7pts
1 Julio Alsogaray (ARG): 3pts
2 Kristian Ruth (NOR): 4pts
3 Andrew Maloney (NZL): 4pts
1 Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN): 2pts
2 Pernelle Michon (FRA): 5pts
3 Alison Young (GBR): 6pts
1 Billy Besson/Marie Riou (FRA): 2pts
2 Thomas Zajac/Tanja Frank (AUT): 4pts
3 Paul Kohlhoff/Carolina Werner (FRA): 5pts
1 Nimrod Mashiah (ISR): 2pts
2.Tom Squires (GBR): 2pts
3. Thomas Goyard (FRA): 4pts
1 Olga Maslivets (RUS): 4pts
2 Noy Drihan (ISR): 4pts
3 Marion Lepert (USA): 4pts
Photos © Jesus Renedo & Pedro Martinez / Sailing Energy / Sofia
47th Trofeo Princesa Sofia Iberostar in Palma de Mallorca
The counter clicks down. When Monday’s register shows there are just 130 days to go until the 2016 Olympic Sailing regatta starts, in Mallorca the curtain will rise on the crucial, high pressure European Olympic regattas season when more than 800 boats take to the Bay of Palma for the 47th Trofeo Princesa Sofia Iberostar.
The popular, showcase Balearic Olympic regatta is an Olympic qualifying regatta for the first time. So this week represents the last chance to secure the remaining Olympic places for European nations in each of the ten Olympic classes, and also for one African nation in the Finn and the Nacra 17 Class.
Suffice to say the pressure on certain sailors is only set to rise here. And almost inevitably the long cherished, hard fought for dreams of competing at the 2016 Olympic regatta in Rio, for many will be left behind on the Bay of Palma.
Such are the stakes at this 47th Trofeo Princesa Sofia Iberostar – Olympic qualification – that the total complement of entries across the classes is significantly higher than at the corresponding regatta back in 2012 when all that was offered was silverware, the chance to polish up the processes in hard racing conditions and to check in with the opposition.
There are 220 more boats entered this year than raced here in the lead up to London 2012. At the close of entries on Sunday, in excess of 800 boats are registered representing 68 different nations, three more nations competing here than in 2012.
Proud of their long history of producing what many sailors regard as the best, most professionally run Olympic regatta in the Med the organisers have upped their game too.
“For us this is very special to have Olympic selection here. It’s our chance to shine. We have more responsibility to the sailors to be more professional than ever, to run better races. People are taking a lot of risks here, there is a lot of pressure on them and we need to respond, all making that extra effort on the water.” says Ferran Muniesa, Regatta Director.
All of the classes have strong entries. Some contain most of what would be considered the top medal favourites for Rio.
Medallists and champions gain valuable tuning time
The record entry in the Nacra 17s have five duos of the top six finishers at last month’s world championships including France’s four times world champions Billy Besson and Marie Riou.
The Finn class includes Gold Cup holder Giles Scott (GBR), recently crowned European champion Pieter-Jan Postma (NED), Brazil’s Miami World Cup winner Jorge Zarif, Denmark’s 2012 Olympic silver medallist and runner up in Miami Jonas Hogh-Christensen, Europeans runner up and four of the top six World Sailing (ISAF) ranked sailors.
Brazil’s legendary Robert Scheidt, Miami World Cup winner must be top seed in the Laser class which is at maximum capacity but misses a few top names. Among those not here are GBR’s World Champion Nick Thompson and Australia’s Tom Burton.
The Women’s Laser Radial class sees China’s Olympic Gold medalist Lijia Zu stepping up her compressed, compact 2016 Olympic campaign after her sixth placed Europeans finish and 12th in Miami. Belgium’s 2012 Bronze Medallist Evi Van Acker, 2012 Bronze Medallist heading for her third Olympics lines up. New European Champion Marit Bouwmeester (NED) is not here but the Europeans’ third, fourth and fifth placed Josefin Olsson (SWE), Tuula Tenkanen (FIN) and 2008 Silver Medallist Gintare Scheidt (LTU)- the winner of the 2015 Rio test event are all racing in the 95 boat field. The Men’s 470 fleet features helms and or crew which won all three 2012 Olympic medals.
Whether they have only recently secured their selection or actually booked their tickets to Rio as early as last year in Santander at the ISAF Sailing World Championships, for dozens of other sailors this week is much more about learning hard miles in the white heat of competition. After beating Olympic Silver Medallist Zach Railey for the USA Finn berth Caleb Paine has swapped one type of pressure for another:
“Now it is about testing everything and making sure I am best prepared for the Olympics. The immediate stress is relieved slightly but here it is about seeing how I stack up agains the rest of the competition. I have the ability now to focus on my complete racing. It is going to be a great event with such a high quality fleet. Definitely here I want to work on my downwind speed.”
Many of the 470 class sailors will use the regatta as a familiarisation exercise with the European Championships to be hosted in Palma only a few days after the end of the Princesa Sofia.
The 49er fleet also have a European Championship to be held in Barcelona a couple of weeks after the end of the Princesa Sofia and will also be dusting off the cob webs in Palma.
Selection battles will go down to the wire
Inevitably some selection battles will go to the wire. For example while the USA Sailing Team have already selected in five classes, Australia have chosen in four classes – 470 Men, 49er, Laser and Nacra 17 and the British Sailing Team have selected in eight classes, their selection trials continuing in the 470 men and 49er classes are ongoing.
The strong Australian team have a three way battle in their 49er FX fleet and an ongoing fight between their top Finn sailors Oliver Tweddle and Jake Lilley which may well continue into the Summer months. Also at stake is the female 470 spot.
The Spanish team will use the regatta as one of their final selection regattas with many internal battles in the Nacra 17, 49ers, 470’s, RSX and Laser classes.
Also using the regatta as one of their final selection regattas are the Swedish, German, Italian and Russian teams.
Whilst some sailors are fighting for selection to go to Rio others are still trying to secure one of the remaining Olympic places for European nations in each of the ten Olympic classes, and also for one African nation in the Finn and the Nacra 17 Class.
Up for grabs is the final Rio place from the African region which will be a battle between the Egyptian and the Tunisian entries. There are also around 10 European nations competing for the final spot in the Rio startline in August.
Meanwhile Spain’s two times Olympic medallist Iker Fernandez has been forced to bow out of this Trofeo Princesa regatta. Martinez who won Olympic gold in 2004 and silver in 2008 in the 49er Class with Xabi Fernandez, suffered a knee injury in a collision with another boat early in the Nacra 17 World Championships in Clearwater, Florida. Martinez and Julia Rita could take no further part in the worlds.
An intensive rehabilitation period has followed but, although the duo have been on the water a few times since, Martinez is not fit enough. As the Spanish Olympic trials for the Nacra 17 are based on the Worlds, this regatta and the World Cup Hyeres, it seems this leaves Fernando Echavarri and Tara Pacheco (who previously crewed Martinez) a clear path to the Rio selection.
The other remaining African region place will be a race off between Allan Julie from the Seychelles who despite competing for a place in previous Olympic Games in the Laser class, has only just stepped into the Finn class and competed at one major event to date. He will be up against Alican Kaynar of Tunisia who finished second at the Sailing World Cup final in Abu Dhabi and competed at the London 2012 Games.
Competition for the final European spot will be fierce with sailors representing; Spain, Czech Republic, Poland, Russia and Turkey in competition.
In both the womens and mens 470 class the local Spanish selection is intense with a large number of sailors vying for one spot in Rio.
In both the womens and mens 470 class there is one remaining nation place outstanding and the stakes are high. In the womens fleet sailors from Estonia, Finland, Greece, Israel, Italy, Malaysia, Turkey and Ukraine are going for the final spot and in the mens sailors from Belgium, Hungary, Italy Poland, Portugal and Ukraine.
49er & 49er FX
As confirmed a few days ago that Africa would not enter any sailors for Rio, the 49erFX skiff event released another European place and as the next in line based on the world championships in Argentina, Ireland’s Brewster and Tidey have secured qualification for Ireland. The final remaining place will be a close fought battle between teams from Austria, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, Poland and Russia.
The situation is no less firece in the mens 49er with a final place going to sailors from; Finland, Greece, Netherlands, Russia, Switzerland or Sweden.
Laser & Laser Radial
Among the most engaging internal battles this week will be that for the USA’s Laser berth between Charlie Buckingham and Erik Bowers. Meanwhile no less than 21 boats are entered from Spain chasing one golden place on the Rio startline. There is also a big fleet representing Greece and Switzerland chasing one of the few remaining country spots in Rio.
In the Radials some of the big European teams have not yet secured places in Rio. These include Spain, Germany, Portugal, Greece and Switzerland.
RS:X Men & Women
In the mens RS:X class the Poles have a very strong team with at least 4 sailors in the top 20 which is a real selection headache. Also in the womens RS:X, the Poles have strength in depth along with the Isrealis and Spanish board sailors.
By the end of this week for some sailors the dream will come true, for some the dream will still be alive and for some it will all be over adding to the intensity of the regatta. Stay tuned to find out how it pans out.
For more details see: www.trofeoprincesasofia.org
© Benoit Stichelbaut / PRB
IMOCA 60 teams have made their decisions
As their winter refits come to a close, the IMOCA teams have made their main technical choices ahead of a season that culminates in the pinnacle event of the class’ four year cycle: The Vendée Globe. For the next refit, which teams have scheduled for this summer, there will only be time for less significant adjustments ready for each skipper to spend three months sailing their respective yachts singlehanded non-stop around the world. In terms of ‘big ticket items’, such as the foils, there is now no going back.
With the introduction of one design masts and keels in the IMOCA fleet, teams and their designers have acknowledged that there are few gains to be made over the best boats from the previous generations. Instead, they have opened up a new avenue of development with complex-shaped foils, designed not only to prevent leeway (like conventional daggerboards) but also to improve righting moment (ie adding stability and power) and creating vertical lift to reduce wetted surface area and drag. The latest generation foil-assisted IMOCA 60s don’t fly, but they are certainly less immersed than boats not fitted with these foils. With these developments, so the trend, inspired by the flying America’s Cup catamarans and the popular Moth dinghies, is now extending across to monohulls with the latest IMOCA designs. Similar new generation foils have also been permitted to be used on Proto Minis in the Classe 6.50.
With the exception of Nandor Fa’s Spirit of Hungary, a classic design where budgetary constraints have been a decisive factor, all the latest generation IMOCA 60s are equipped with these new generation foils.
However among teams with previous generation boats, opinion is a lot more divided about whether such foils should or should not be retrofitted to their tried and tested machines.
© Jean-Marie Liot / DPPI
Maître CoQ’s refit
Jérémie Beyou, skipper of Maître CoQ, has fought a long battle within the IMOCA class against allowing the new generation foils. His reasoning was not so much against the march of progress, rather he considered that these new appendages would incur substantial extra cost (in the order of €300,000 to retrofit them). However, from the moment the decision was made by the IMOCA class to permit the new foils, Beyou has been constantly monitoring how they have performed.
“As with any innovation of this kind, progress was very slow initially,” Beyou observes. “Some were sceptical: Could the gains provided by the foils on certain points of sail offset the losses close-hauled with a much less efficient surface to prevent leeway than the ‘classic’ daggerboard configuration? In reality, we were quickly able to see that the potential for improvement was huge. Banque Populaire VIII’s performance in the Transat Jacques Vabre convinced me that sooner or later this will be the way forward”
In addition, Maître CoQ’s retirement from that race enabled Beyou and the Maître CoQ shore crew to begin tackling the major retrofit work sufficiently early in order to finish ready to train with the other boats this spring. The Transat New York-Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) will provide Beyou and the Maître CoQ team with the opportunity to trial their newly equipped boat as well as to qualify for the Vendée Globe.
© Alexis Courroux
A classic configuration for PRB, SMA and Groupe Quéguiner Leucémie Espoir
The other teams with competitive 2008 or 2012 generation IMOCA 60s, have chosen not to fit the new foils, albeit for a variety of differing reasons.
On the 2012 Vendée Globe winner, now Paul Meilhat’s SMA, the repair work required after she was abandoned during the IMOCA Ocean Masters’ Transat Saint-Barth – Port la Forêt race and subsequently left to drift has put the retrofitting of new generation foils out of the question.
For Yann Elies, skipper of Groupe Quéguiner Leucémie Espoir (formerly Marc Guillemot’s 2008 generation Safran) the problem is slightly different:
“It’s clear that the foils provide a significant amount of added speed. Like everyone else, we questioned whether we should embark on this route. We gave up for several reasons: first of all, our refit started late and there was a risk we would miss out on essential sailing time.”
“Next, we must not forget that the addition of foils must be considered in the wider context: Introducing foils considerably modifies the role of the rudders, which have to take on a greater role in preventing leeway. Finally, to bring this operation to a successful conclusion requires both investment, both financially and in time, neither of which we have. Given all these factors, we’ve instead opted for reliability by improving on the existing boat.”
Meanwhile PRB’s performance has boosted by other modifications and skipper Vincent Riou knows that he already has one of the fastest boats in the fleet. In his more controversial view, an IMOCA 60 with a more classic foil configuration still has every chance of winning the Vendée Globe:
“We haven’t found any reasons to fit PRB with [new generation] foils as they don’t improve our winning potential… The foilers would have to make a huge amount of progress to stand a greater chance of winning the Vendée Globe than us.”
Riou is setting the cat among the pigeons here by countering the general trend, but the first real indication of which have made the right decision will occur during the Transat New York – Vendée (Les Sables d’Olonne) on what should be a downwind course, in theory more favourable to the new generation foilers.
In the end, everyone seems convinced that foils, in some form or other, represent the future of IMOCA 60 design. However, this years Vendée Globe will mark a transition and as yet no-one is in a position to say how the foilers will behave, in terms of their performance or reliability, over several months of racing on the most challenging of race courses. Computer VPP calculations indicate that an IMOCA 60 equipped with new generation foils should be three to four days faster over the whole Vendée Globe course given ‘typical’ weather scenarios. But putting the theory into practice is another thing entirely. However whoever is right, such technological advancements are all vital parts of the rich tapestry that forms the IMOCA Ocean Masters Championship.
Photofinish – Photos © Lloyd Images
Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 1, Muscat – Overall
Morgan Larson stormed home to an extraordinary win in the opening Act of the 2016 Extreme Sailing Series™ in Muscat on Oman Air, alongside the team, which includes Pete Greenhalgh, James Wierzbowski, Ed Smyth and Omani national Nasser Al Mashari.
Together the team won over 50% of the races sailed, more than any other team in Series history, as the Extreme Sailing Series officially completes the biggest transition of the last ten years. The flying GC32s have well and truly arrived.
Larson summed up the week: “It was a phenomenal week for the whole team and obviously great to do that here on home waters. We sailed at the highest level we have, so it’s going to take a lot of work for us to improve on from here. We know that a few of the other teams have some things to do and when they get that right, they’re going to be right there with us. We know they’re going to push and we have to keep on getting better.”
Muscat saved the best for last, cranking up the breeze for the final two races that literally saw the eight GC32s flying around the track, and at times teetering on the edge. Charging into the final race, four boats – SAP Extreme Sailing Team, Land Rover BAR Academy, Alinghi and Red Bull Sailing Team – were gunning for the podium positions, and a betting man would have thought it was SAP’s day. But the Danes missed a mark rounding, and when realising their error, crash-gybed, almost loosing their bowman Renato Conde in the process. Their mistake resulted in zero points in the race and a tumble down the rankings to finish in fifth.
A visibly dejected co-skipper Jes Gram-Hansen commented: “We are very disappointed right now. We’ve been second throughout the whole of the regatta. We had a great start, and were leading the race and then unfortunately we didn’t take the right course, we thought we were heading to the finish and there was still one lap to go. We made a major error. Saying that we sailed well, and have been throughout the whole regatta. Oman Air sailed really strong all week, but I think we should have been on the podium.”
Red Bull Sailing Team, who came into the day in fifth place, elevated their game, charging out with the bit between their teeth to take victory in the first two races of the day as well as the final double-pointer, and more importantly, second overall. Skipper Roman Hagara commented: “It was a really tough day. We started quite well but it came down to the final race, and we put everything into it. In the end, it was perfect for us.”
Land Rover BAR Academy, with 2015 Extreme Sailing Series winner Leigh McMillan at the helm alongside skipper Bleddyn Môn, took third place in the final race, and third place overall, leaving Alinghi three points back in fourth.
McMillan commented: “I’m feeling pretty pleased with a podium finish for the Academy at the first event of the season. Being a brand new team, and this, for a lot of the guys, is the first time they’ve sailed a boat like this. It’s just a fantastic result. Everyone on the team has been performing really well and the experience they’re gaining in such a short period of time is huge.”
The 19 races staged over four days delivered a sensational opening Act to the 2016 Extreme Sailing Series, as Andy Tourell, Event Director summed up: “The switch to the GC32 catamaran is the biggest transition the Series has ever been through, and Muscat has delivered near perfect conditions to get the Series off to a fantastic start. The competition on the water has been fierce, with the form guide all but ripped up as the fleet get to grips with flying. Next stop is China, 29 April – 2 May, where we will see more open water racing combined with our unique Stadium format.”
Standings after Day 4: (19 races)
1 Oman Air (OMA) Morgan Larson, 217pts
2 Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, 184pts
3 Land Rover BAR Academy (GBR) Bleddyn Môn, 175pts
4 Alinghi (SUI) Ernesto Bertarelli, 172pts
5 SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen,166pts
6 China One (CHN) Taylor Canfield, 140pts
8 Sail Portugal (POR) Diogo Cayolla, 138pts
Photo © Lloyd Images
Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 1, Muscat, Oman
The eight Extreme Sailing Series™ teams took to the water in Oman for the penultimate day of racing, in what proved to be a light airs test of tactics and patience as the fleet continued their steep learning curve on the GC32 catamarans.
Proving they are masters of both light airs and strong breeze, the tough conditions barely fazed Oman Air, who managed to find an extra gear, keeping the gas on and their concentration up. They added another two race wins to their tally – their overall scoreboard in Muscat barely showing a blip to top the rankings.
The light, shifty wind brought with it a change of fortunes for British Olympian Stevie Morrison and his co-skipper on Team Turx, Edhem Dirvana who put in a confidence-boosting performance as the second highest scorers of the day. The team, which includes former Luna Rossa America’s Cup sailor and past Extreme Sailing Series champion Alister Richardson, showed they all have the necessary talent to get up to speed quickly on the GC32.
Speaking about the switch to foiling, Dirvana commented: “I love it, foiling is the way forward and for the Series I think the evolution happened at the right time. The circuit is pushing us as sailors to learn more, and I think it’s giving our sport the edge that’s needed.”
The final battle for the podium is raging, but a mixed day of results for SAP Extreme Sailing Team has put a little more light between them and Oman Air.
Just three points back are Land Rover BAR Academy, the youth team in third place, with the more experienced team Alinghi, breathing down their necks, one point behind.
Austria’s Red Bull Sailing Team currently sit in fifth place, while China One and Sail Portugal continue to get to grips with both a new breed of boat, and the stadium style of racing the Extreme Sailing Series.
As the opening Act of the 2016 Series nears its close, any pre-season form guide has been all but thrown out the window, with all the teams showing they are capable of picking up good results.
Standings after Day 3: (13 races)
1 Oman Air (OMA) Morgan Larson, 145pts
2 SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, 119pts
3 Land Rover BAR Academy (GBR) Bleddyn Môn, 116pts
4 Alinghi (SUI) Ernesto Bertarelli, 115pts
5 Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, 110pts
6 Team Turx (TUR) Edhem Dirvana, 99pts
7 China One (CHN) Taylor Canfield, 92pts
8 Sail Portugal (POR) Diogo Cayolla, 83pts
Photos © Lloyd Images
Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 1, Muscat, Oman
Under the beaming Arabian sun, things heated up on the Muscat racecourse for the eight hydro-foiling GC32 catamarans competing at the new-look Extreme Sailing Series™, as the local boys on Oman Air extended their lead.
It was a day of two halves, which saw the helmet-clad crews head out to the track in 18-knots of breeze, their GC32s skimming at high speed across the water, before an 180-degree wind shift shut things down.
Three fast-paced races were sailed, and like magnificent men on their flying machine, Morgan Larson and his crew, which includes three former Extreme Sailing Series champions, took victory in two races, giving Oman Air a 14-point lead at the halfway stage of the event.
The only team to challenge the locals was the Danish SAP Extreme Sailing Team, who took spoils in the day’s opening race, with the duo of Jes Gram-Hansen and Rasmus Køstner out to make their mark early on in the season.
“We’ve put a lot of work in trying to prepare ourselves for racing the boat, and now it’s all about racing”, commented Køstner. “It’s really rewarding as a sailor to jump on a new boat and feel like you’re improving. We still have a long way to go, but it feels like we are getting better every day.”
The double-Olympic gold medallists from Austria on Red Bull Sailing Team, this year with a new-look crew having recruited ex-SAP Extreme Sailing Team crewman Brad Farrand, got better and better as the day went on, posting a fourth, third and second, to finish the day third overall. Skipper Hagara commented:
“The conditions were difficult today and it wasn’t easy out on the racecourse, but we managed to make it work for us. Overall it felt good, especially when we are foiling -when these GC32s rise off the water, they’re spectacular to watch.”
Tied on points in fourth and fifth place are Land Rover BAR Academy and Alinghi – the Swiss America’s Cup and former Extreme Sailing Series champions who were always in the top half of the fleet, showing an improvement in consistency. Co-skipper Arnaud Psarofaghis, a foiling Moth and multihull expert, commented:
“Yesterday was a tough start for us, but today we were on our game and we are a lot happier with the result. We changed our communication onboard, especially on the starts, and we could see the progress. Although we have experience on the GC32, we can already see the other teams starting to get to grips with it, so we need to ensure we keep improving.”
There were mixed fortunes for Team Turx today, with a broken winch in the third race leaving them out of the running. In contrast China One finished the day on a high, taking third place in the closing race, putting them eight-points ahead of Sail Portugal.
Standings after Day 2: (9 races)
1 Oman Air (OMA) Morgan Larson, 102pts
2 SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, 88pts
3 Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, 84pts
4 Land Rover BAR Academy (GBR) Bleddyn Môn, 78pts
5 Alinghi (SUI) Ernesto Bertarelli, 78pts
6 China One (CHN) Taylor Canfield, 62pts
7 Team Turx (TUR) Edhem Dirvana, 61pts
8 Sail Portugal (POR) Diogo Cayolla, 54pts
Photos © Lloyd Images
Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 1, Muscat, Oman
The curtain was officially raised on the 2016 Extreme Sailing Series™ in the historic old town of Muscat, Oman, with the new breed of hydro-foiling GC32 catamarans more than living up to the pre-season hype.
With a racecourse set against the stunning backdrop of the Al Alam Royal Castle in the Muttrah Port and the imposing surrounding mountains, any pre-season nerves were well and truly shaken off over six fast-paced races, that saw the fleet fully airborne on their foils in 14 – 18 knots of wind, as the Series literally flew into its 10th season.
The local team Oman Air came out of the blocks firing, the experienced former winner of the Extreme Sailing Series Morgan Larson and his team claiming four race wins, setting a high benchmark early on as the boat to beat.
“Going in to today we weren’t that confident, but everything came together”, commented Larson. “It’ll be an uphill learning curve for most of the teams, but a lot of them have brought in some experience and I think we’ll quickly see them jump ahead. It was fantastic to sail in a new location here in Muscat, in front of the city. The conditions were great – it was tight, challenging and fun racing – a great season opener.”
Newer to the foiling game than Larson and eager to get competitive quickly, the Danish SAP Extreme Sailing Team looked like a fine-tuned team, never finishing out of the top half of the fleet to finish the day second. Just four points back, the Land Rover BAR Academy sailors, under skipper, Olympic class 49er sailor Bleddyn Môn, took two race wins – a strong start for the youth team. “It was a good day for us, we had some good breeze and everyone’s getting used to the boat now, but we do have a few improvements to make. The guys are always learning, and every day they’re getting better,” commented Môn.
Former Extreme 40 contenders, Red Bull Sailing Team and Team Turx – both with Olympic pedigree at the helm – finish day one in fourth and fifth respectively. While Alinghi – arguably the pre-season favourites – are one point adrift in sixth.
New to both foiling and the Extreme Sailing Series Stadium Racing format, CHINA One, and Sail Portugal may be on a steeper learning curve than some, but both showed they have the necessary talent to get up to speed quickly, posting race finishes in the top half of the pack. Match racing champion and CHINA One skipper Taylor Canfield commented:
“It was an awesome day, picture perfect conditions and it was amazing to sail around the coast, racing in front of the cliffs and the Palace.” Reflecting on their performance, Canfield continued: “It was a little tough for us as we’re still getting used to the boat, it’s only our second day foiling, and we’re a new team. The standard in the fleet is incredibly high but we looking forward to the next three days.”
Until Saturday, the fleet races in the stadium at Almouj golf course, with up to 20 more races still to come.
Standings after Day 1: (6 races)
1 Oman Air (OMA) Morgan Larson, 67pts
2 SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, 60pts
3 Land Rover BAR Academy (GBR) Bleddyn Môn, 56pts
4 Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, 54pts
5 Team Turx (TUR) Edhem Dirvana, 49pts
6 Alinghi (SUI) Ernesto Bertarelli, 48pts
7 China One (CHN) Taylor Canfield, 39pts
8 Sail Portugal (POR) Diogo Cayolla, 35pts