Old faces, new roles
Day one marked the return to international sailing for the Sibello brothers, in the 49er class. Ranked second in the world, the Italian team excelled in today's light conditions to take three bullets. However, their outstanding performance only place them three points ahead of British pair of John Pink and Rick Peacock, who collected top three scores in as many races.
Class newcomers didn't prove to be much of a threat yet! Ex-Tornado Olympic medallist and world champion Darren Bundock from Australia, sailing with current 49er World Champion Ben Austin, are placed 32nd despite a promising first race when they came 10th! This was their first races together and a first in a 49er for Bundock, the catamaran guru. It was also the same fate for Mitch Booth's former crew Pim Nieuwenhuis who is now campaigning a 49er with Ferdinand van West and has almost moved on to the helm.
“This is the first time I am at the helm since the Optimist!” explained Nieuwenhuis before racing. "I sailed a 49er as a crew between 2000 and 2006. This is totally different, but really fun! We have sailed may be five times together and this is our first event, so we don t have any expectations!”
The Dutch team passed the test today with a third in the first race and an overall position of 13 in a fleet of 50 boats!
470 Junior World Champions have proven their ability at senior level in both men and women fleets. Dutch pair Steven Le Fevre and Steven Krol mastered the conditions in a strong 76 boats fleet. They won the first race and placed second in the following.
In the women division, Britain's Hannah Mills and Katrina Hughes ended the day with a victory. An 18th place in the first race put them in 9th position overall while the regatta lead has been taken by Penny and Saskia Clark.
“It was a good first day,” Saskia Clark said. “We were pretty pleased with our upwind speed so will be looking to improve on other bits around the race track as the week goes on.”
The Star class is back this year at the Yacht Club de Palma, shared with the Dragon sailors. Mark Mendelblatt and Mark Strube are back together, representing the US and German team of Robert Stanjek and Markus Roy won a race each with the Germans taking the lead on equal points with class newcomers, Johannes Polgar and well known big boat sailor Tim Kroger. This most unusual pair has got opposite backgrounds! Johannes has competed in the Tornado during the last ten years while Kroger is a seasoned Volvo Ocean Race races also with two America s Cup, Le Defi and Shosholoza.
“We really enjoyed the light and sunny conditions today.”, says Polgar, “We are still some 12 kg underweight”. The ex-Tornado skipper went from 68 kgs during the Olympics in China to 85kg! “I still need to add some and go to the gym!”
The new German Star team has started last November but has trained during most winter time in Palma with other German teams.
Former Tornado sailor Carolijn Brouwer has returned to the Laser Radial for her next Olympic campaign. “I had not raced the Radial for 16 years! It is hard to get back to it, but I am glad we had these light conditions. It is a big change compare with the Tornado, but probably easier tactically, now I have time to think before taking a decision!!” With a 7th and a 9th, Brouwer places 6th overall while team mate Laura Maes (BEL) is in second position two points from Paige Railey. The American is coming back in top form winning the first race and placing 4th in the next. Anna Tunnicliffe has a slower start in the event but makes it to the top ten in 9th overall.
It was a Dutch affair in the 2.4 with André Rademaker taking two bullets in front of Olympic medallist Thierry Schmitter while Barend Kol is placed third.
At the time of going to press Tonci Stipanovic leads the 134 Laser sailors, divided in three fleets.
It was tight racing among the RS:X men. Fabian Heidegger (ITA) and Shahar Zubari (ISR) are sharing the lead on equal points, while the top ten are within close reach.
Michael Maier (CZE) and Andrew Mills (GBR) took a race each in the Finn class. The young Finnish sailor Tapio Nirkko raced consistently to place first overall after scoring a fifth and a second place.
“A couple of great results for me today,” said Mills. “I was looking to get top tens in each race just to try and get a bit of consistency at the start of the season and I got a first as well, so it was a great day.
“We’ve trained a lot out here during the winter, getting to know the water and how the wind’s going to work so that’s probably helped,” said Mills of the benefits of his winter training. “I’m using some new kit as well, some new shaped sails which seem to work nicely.”
The Princesa Sofia Mapfre Trophy is the first major event in the Finn class for ex-Laser sailor, Denis Karpak. The Estonian had a good start in the Finn, but unfortunately a disqualification in the second race sent him from 4th to 24th.
Racing starts at 11am on Monday for the 49ers and 12am for the other classes.
Robert Daves reports on the Finns:
Finland's number one Finn sailor Tapio Nirkko (FIN) took the overall lead in the Finn class after two testing races in around 8-10 knots of north-westerly thermal breeze, which produced 'medium sized shifts'. Starting at or on the pin end of the line in both races, Nirkko showed good pace throughout to post a 5th and a 2nd to lead overnight after day one.
Nirkko is one of just seven 2008 Olympic sailors present in Palma. After finishing a disappointing 18th in Qingdao, he has started his 2009 season in the best possible way. A recent win in the 80 boat Cannes International Regatta has given him a welcome confidence boost that appears to be holding.
Second overnight is Andrew Mills (GBR), a member of Great Britain's development squad, which has been doing a lot of training in Palma over the winter months. Mills, who has shown a lot of potential at recent regattas, said, "My plan for race two was to consolidate on my 8th place in race one with another top 10. I had good pace up first beat and rounded third at the top mark. Then the right side paid on the second beat and I lead from here till the finish."
Mills, who also won races in Cannes, is one place ahead of fellow British sailor Ed Wright (GBR). Wright spent most of the winter on the other side of the Atlantic which culminated in wins at the Rolex Miami OCR and the US Mid-Winters, beating 2008 Olympic Silver medalist Zach Railey (USA) and 2004 Olympic Silver Medalist Rafael Trujillo (ESP) in the process.
While Railey is not present in Palma, Trujillo is lying in sixth after a 6th and 10th, on equal points with Marin Misura CRO) and Gasper Vincec (SLO).
Deniss Karpak (EST) was provisionally in fourth place after placing a consistent 7th and 5th, but lost a protest in race 2 and now lies in 24th place.
Top three placers (plus the Brit positions....)
1. Pietro Sibello-Gianfranco Sibello, ITA (3pts)
2. John Pink-Rick Peacock, GBR (6pts)
3. Federico Alonso-Arturo Alonso, ESP (15pts)
4. Andrew Walsh-Simon Marks (16pts)
6. Paul Campbell-James-Mark Asquith (17pts)
12. Dave Evans-Simon Hiscocks (23pts)
1. Tapio Nirkko, FIN (7pts)
2. Andrew Mills, GBR (9pts)
3. Ed Wright, GBR (11pts)
9. Giles Scott (18pts)
11. Mark Andrews (26pts)
1. Penny Clark-Saskia Clark, GBR (6pts)
2. Sylvia Vogl-Carolina Flatscher, AUT (8pts)
3. Henriette Koch-Lene Sommer, DEN (13pts)
9. Hannah Mills-Katrina Hughes (19pts)
14. Sophie Weguelin-Sophie Ainsworth (27pts)
1. Steven Lefevre-Steven Krol, NED (3pts)
2. Jan Jasper Wagner-Lennart Scheufler, GER (5pts)
3. Pierre Leboucher-Vincent Garos (6pts)
19. Jonny Moss-Ben Muskett (21pts)
28. Nick Rogers-Pom Green (31pts)
29. Ben Saxton-David Kohler (32pts)
1. Shahar Zubari, ISR (2pts)
2. Fabian Heidegger, ITA (3pts)
3. Chan King Yin, HKG (6pts)
10. Nick Dempsey (11pts)
41. Richard Hamilton (41pts)
43. Elliot Carney (42pts)
1. Marina Alabau, ESP (2pts)
2. Eugenie Ricard, FRA (5pts)
3. Blanca Manchon, ESP (11pts)
4. Bryony Shaw (11pts)
16. Beth Williamson (31pts)
18. Izzy Hamilton (33pts)
1. Andre Rademaker, NED (2pts)
2. Thierry Schmitter, NED (5pts)
3. Barend Kol, NED (6pts)
4. Helena Lucas (8pts)
5. Megan Pascoe (6pts)
1. Tonci Stipanonvic, CRO (4pts)
2. Nick Thompson, GBR (7pts)
3. Jesus Rogel Sanchez, ESP (8pts)
1. Paige Railey, USA (5pts)
2. Laura Maes, BEL (7pts)
3. Francesca Ciapcich, ITA (11pts)
11, Charlotte Dobson (27pts)
More photos on page 2...