Gold too for Goodison and Ainslie
The 'expected' gold medallists within Skandia Team GBR fulfilled the form guide on the final medal race day at the Princess Sofia Trophy on the Bay of Palma. Following the pre-medal race win for Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson in the Star, so today Ben Ainslie confirmed his first place in the Finn, ahead of team mate Giles Scott who takes home the silver, while Beijing gold medallist Paul Goodison, fended off strong competition from both Australian Tom Slingsby and team mate Nick Thompson to gain the top spot in the Laser.Bronze wins for the British team included Nick Thompson, Nick Dempsey in the RS:X Men, Megan Pascoe's yesterday in the 2.4mR, and Luke Patience-Stuart Bithell who squeaked on to the podium in the 470 Men.
After a short delay while the wind conditions built across Palma Bay on Saturday morning, the final ten-boat medal races got underway in winds initially of 5-6 knots building to 10 in the early afternoon. The Finn class was the first to start, where Ainslie held a comfortable 14 point cushion over Giles Scott heading into the medal race.
Ainslie started mid-line, and after a short stint on starboard tacked back, crossed the fleet and never looked back. Thoughts were that he might simply try and sail his opposition (Giles Scott) off the race course. Instead Ainslie simply won in emphatic style.
“It’s been a good week, it was a nice way to end off,” said Ainslie after the medal race. “It was one of those races where everything went right and that doesn’t happen too often! It was a good race today so I’m happy with that, and I’m happy with the week but there’s a long way to go this season and I’m looking forward to the next event.
“The come back to the Finn has been hard work. I need to work more on my fitness. It is good to see the other British do well, it is motivating and is good for sailing in England.” Ainslie's next stop will be Hyères and Sail for Gold for the start of the British Olympic selections.
The medal race in the Laser was a much tighter affair. Paul Goodison emerged on top after starting out today with he, Australian World Champion Tom Slingsby and fellow Brit Nick Thompson all effectively level on points. The finishing order between the three on the water today would determine the order of the podium spots. Like Ainslie, elsewhere on the Bay, Goodison took the initiative early on, rounding the first windward mark in first place. He kept his medal rivals firmly behind him for the entire race, finishing third with Slingsby and Thompson in fifth and seventh in the ten-boat race.
“It was going to be whoever was going to cross the line first, so the only real option was to go and win the race,” said Goodison of his approach to the race. “After getting round the top mark leading it was all a bit easier seeing the guys behind me and from then it was just about making sure I didn’t do anything silly and finishing it off. It was a little bit frustrating to get an over the line a little bit earlier in the week, which made it a lot harder going into yesterday but I’m pretty happy with how I’m sailing and to see me delivering under pressure. Fingers crossed for the rest of the season!”
Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell improved their overnight position from fourth to claim bronze, and so nearly a silver, in the 470 Men. The incredibly tight medal race saw the British pair cross the finish line in third, almost level with the French crew Nicolas Charbonnier and Jeremie Mion with the result going in the French pair’s favour, meaning the Skandia Team GBR pair miss out on the silver medal spot by just one point.
As Bithell described it: “The medal race today was very close – they always are – and it was a particular condition that made it even closer. It came down to a very, very close finish to the extent where we put a quick protest in at the end. We thought we might have had the silver medal opportunity, but that wasn’t to be.”
Helmsman Patience was over the moon with another podium finish for the pairing after a testing week. “We’re very pleased to have come away with another medal,” he said. “That’s our fifth regatta in a row that we’ve come away with a medal so we’re so happy with that, it’s a different place to where we were a year ago. It was a difficult regatta. It was high scoring as Princess Sofia often is and at the end of the day what matters is the finishing place when you cross the finish line at the end of the last race – we’re happy to say that was in a medal position for us.”
The Women Match racing finals in the Elliott 6s saw a hard fought battle between Finland's Silja Lehtinen, Silja Kanerva and Mikaela Wulff taking the first match by a small margin, then the US team of Sally Barkow, Elizabeth Kratzig-Burnham, Alana O’Reilly took the next three close matches to claim the Gold medal.
“It feels really good to win a Sailing World Cup event," said Barkow. "We came into this event thinking it was going to be a kind of warm up leading up to the first phase of the U.S. Trials in May. We really showed a lot of progress through the event and that was really important. We still have a lot to work on and we’re off to Weymouth next week to train with the rest of the US Team then on to Hyères.”
The Finals and Petit-Finals were sailed as the sea breeze filled in at around midday to a steady 7-10 knots. Interestingly two of the favourites ended up in the Petit-Finals which saw the USA's Anna Tunnicliffe, Molly Vandemoer, and Deb Capozzi defeat France's Claire Leroy, Marie Riou, and Claire Pruvot in two straight matches to win the Bronze medal.
In the RS:X Men, Dorian van Rijsselberge (NED), Tom Ashley (NZL) and Nick Dempsey (GBR) maintained their position to take the podium in the RS:X class. Dempsey takes second place behind the Dutch in the Sailing World Cup standings.
“I feel really happy with my results.” says Dorian van Rijsselberge. “It was a wonderful regatta, with sunshine and plenty of wind! My goal here was to finish in the top three and winning is always very nice.”
Spain's Marina Alabau who has been leading the event since the second day, won the RS:X Women's class at the Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mapfre for the first time. France's Charline Picon remained in second , but coming into the medal race in third, Italy's Laura Linares suffered from an early start disqualification in the Medal race and this allowed the last place on the podium to be taken to her rival and first day leader Alessandra Sensini - a significant result as this event counts as an Italian Olympic team qualification event.
With victory already gone to Percy and Simpson yesterday, the battle on the Star medal race was for Silver and Bronze. Germany's Robert Stanjeck and Frithjof Kleen posted their best placing in the event to end up second overall albeit on equal points with both Torben Grael /Marcelo Feirrera (BRA) and Diego Negri/Enrico Voltolini (ITA).
In the 49er, France's Manu Dyen and Stéphane Christidis successfully defended their title at this regatta. This is the tenth time the French duo have competed here. Today they transformed their early lead into Gold after a Medal race where the Italians nearly succeeded in taking the championship.
“We had a good start with the Italians just behind us," said Dyen. "On the first beat we fell in an area with less wind. The Sibellos passed us and had a good gap on us at the mark, enough to take the regatta.” A good gybe set approaching the bottom gate reduced their deficit and gave the French team the advantage and the title.
Pietro and Gianfranco Sibello (ITA) held on to silver, while the bronze was up for grab by the next six teams. The Danish team of Allan Norregaard and Peter Lang, who were in the strongest position going into the medal race missed their chance after finishing 9th leaving the final step on the podium to the Austrians Delle-Karth/Reisch.
Dylan Fletcher-Alain Sign finished as the best British boat, in sixth place overall thanks to their fifth from the medal race, with Paul Brotherton-Mark Asquith ending their regatta in eighth, Stevie Morrison-Ben Rhodes ninth and John Pink-Rick Peacock tenth.
In the 470 Men, the top spots on the leaderboard were an all-French affair. Nicolas Charbonnier and Jérémie Mion, who have only been sailing together since February, have found their form quickly and transformed their two months of training into victory ahead of team mates Pierre Leboucher and Vincent Garos. “There are still many points to adjust but this week was a good test for us as new team,” commented Charbonnier.
When asked about their objectives and the French selection coming soon in Hyères, the Beijing Olympic bronze medallist said that “winning the next Olympics is the main goal” and that they will not be distracted by anything else.
In the 470 Women, after just one week training together, New Zealand's Jo Aleh and Bianca Barbarich-Barber, claimed victory in their fist event together, Aleh's regularly crew Olivia Powrie, currently recovering from a cycling accident. Japan's Ai Kondo and Wakako Tabata held on to second with the Israeli team of Gil Cohen and Bouskila Vered, third. Skandia Team GBR's Penny Clark and Katrina Hughes just missed the podium, but as a small consolation are now ahead in the Sailing World Cup standings.
In the Laser Radial there was another win for the Kiwis with Sarah Winther taking gold from Belgium's Evi van Acker, while Gintare Scheidt (LTU) rose to third overall after winning the medal race.
“I am very happy with my week,” said Winther. “I didn't come here to win, I used this event to work on some key things. Racing in Palma was awesome this year, surely the best.”
Sailors will be heading to the next Sailing World Cup event starting in two weeks in Hyères.
Robert Deaves' Finn focus
The Finn medal race of the 42 Trofeo SAR Princesa Sofia in Palma followed a familiar pattern with Ben Ainslie (GBR) taking his seventh race win of the week and also taking the overall prize for the best performance across all classes. Below him not much changed with Giles Scott (GBR) taking the silver and Thomas Le Breton (FRA) taking the bronze.
On another day of light winds and small choppy waves, Ainslie led from the top mark all the way. Rafa Trujillo (ESP) rounded in second as Ainslie sailed away from the fleet. His only threat, Giles Scott (GBR) was back in seventh. Ainslie increased his lead again on the second upwind while the rest of fleet had a tough fight at the first downwind mark. Ainslie comfortably maintained his lead and won by more than 150 metres (about 40 seconds), while Zach Railey (USA) had a great final downwind to move from fifth to second. The rest of the fleet came to finish in a close group and the final result for the rest was fixed during last few meters.
On his return to the class Ainslie said “At Miami, I learnt a huge amount and despite some issues in the regatta finished one point off the lead. Since then we have been working hard on the kit development and fitness and I'm happy that we made some good gains. I'm really pleased with the progress made but certainly have more improvements to make.”
On Palma, “It's a tricky venue here in Palma but I seem to be getting back the fleet racing tactical calls and had good speed throughout a range of conditions.”
Does he feel if it had been a windy regatta it would have been a different story? “Who knows, it's not reality. The first day we had 25 knots plus and that was great fun and tough physically. We've had a good range of conditions at this event. It has been hard work to come back because with the 10 knot rule you need to be really fit. I am working on my fitness and I need to get used to the boat again.”
Scott, who finished fourth in the race but maintained his second overall, said, “I had the first beat wrong and it wasn't my best conditions. And Ben was very fast.”
Rafa Trujillo (ESP) closed his week with a third place in the medal race. He summed up his week, “I was sick before the regatta and spent three days in bed. I didn't read the weather and the field well this week. I have been coming too often here and got used to the shifts going left so I didn't look and expected the wind to do the same. And of course it didn't. This week was my conditions with ten knots and choppy but I was not feeling good. Also I had a flat sail and was slow. I will fix that. Now we are resting then some training with Ed and other guys in Valencia and then to Hyères. There I expect the mistral!”
Last place in the medal race and 10th overall went to Johan Tillander (SWE), who is back in Finn after two and half years sailing Stars with Fredrik Loof. “My objective was top ten so I am really happy. I was so happy with top ten that I was not really concentrating today."
Dan Slater had a chance to snatch the bronze from Le Breton but it didn't quite work out. “I rounded the first mark in fifth, one place behind Le Breton. Down the first run not much changed then on the second beat I lost a little and then gained it back but I was still behind on the final run to the finish. Down that run I tried to work to the left of the three boats in front to try and beat them to the gybe and in doing so lost two more boats to the finish so it really was not a great race.”
“But overall I still finished fourth and am happy with the way the regatta went. I still have lots of things to work on that will improve my performance. The class is seeing some changes in rigs, sails and even boats and the guys who are doing development in these areas have already moved forward. This regatta saw some new rig concepts that showed they were faster and higher than the standard rigs.”
Slater continued, “Ben and Giles have sailed well this week again. Their strength is downwind where they are making the gains. Ben has sailed well upwind as well, rounding the top mark in the first few most races.” Does Ainslie have a weakness? “To say he has a weakness in a class that he has been at the front of now for eight years is a big ask. but I'm sure if we had a windy regatta maybe it would be a bit different for us older boys.
Zach Railey was also happy with his week. “It was a very puffy race. Ben and I got off to a good start at the pin. He got some good pressure he rounded first at the top mark. I was fourth in a pack with Rafa, Ed and Thomas. It all stayed very close until the finish with Dan and Ed in the mix. I had a great last downwind to finish second and secure fifth overall. I feel really good as a top five was our goal, but we also identified some stuff to correct so all in all a good week.”
From Richard Langdon/www.oceanimages.co.uk