Medals decided at the Princess Sofia Trophy
With a fourth place in the Laser Radial medal race, Alicia Cebrian (ESP) took her first title ever in a Sailing World Cup event, while Evi van Acker (BEL) hung on to the silver after winning the medal race. World #1 and current World Champion, Marit Bouwmeester (NED) ended up third. Skandia Team GBR's Charlotte Dobson improved by one position finishing in 6th overall after coming home 5th in the medal race, while Alison Young ended up in 10th.
In the Lasers, Skandia Team GBR's Paul Goodison was unable to put enough places between him and leader Simon Grotelueschen (GER), who was seven points ahead heading into the medal race. Goodison had to try and get three boats between himself and the German to have a chance a gold but Grotelueschen got ahead of him early on the first beat and managed to hold on for the remainder of the race.
“He just got across me on the first cross and from there he did a pretty good job of tacking on me and just keeping me behind him so it was a little bit tricky,” Goodison explained. “Fortunately I managed to do enough to keep hold of silver. Looking back, it’s been a pretty good week here, some good improvements, a bit of frustration with an OCS from a race I won earlier in the week. That could have changed things quite dramatically but we’re all pretty happy.
“It was good to go to Miami and win there but obviously the fleet is a bit stronger here and I kept my main rivals behind me again,” he continued. “I think the winter training has all been paying off and I’m looking forward to now going back to Weymouth and training where it really matters.”
Grotelueschen clinched his second Sailing World Cup title after sailing to victory in Kiel last year with young Australian Tom Burton third overall while Laser favourite Tom Slingsby finished 13th overall and failed to make the medal race after he was blackflagged in yesterday's final race.
“Today was probably the breeziest day of the event with around 20 knots and big waves popping up,” said Burton. “I had a really good start with some good speed, popped out and was first to the right hand side towards the top mark. From then I was first around the top and held on the whole way around.
Burton was at the head of the fleet all week with the 21 year old sailing well in the light conditions that tested the best of sailors as well as the strong breeze on Saturday.
“I expected to be good in the breeze with all the breeze training we do in Sydney,” he said. “Although we haven’t sailed in breeze for a while and I’m a little bit lighter at the moment so I’m very happy to be up to speed with the top guys.
“I’m really happy with how my preparations are going for the rest of the year as this was supposed to be a warm up event,” said Burton. “As a preparation for the upcoming World Championships I don’t think it could be better, I feel I’m sailing really well and have the same if not better boat speed than most. So it’s all looking positive for me.”
In the Star, Brazil World Champions, Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada added a second Sailing World Cup victory after winning at Rolex Miami OCR.
“We were really surprised to win, as we thought the British were ahead of us," admitted Scheidt. "We are using a new boat this week, so our objective was to test it. This is why we had a slow start in the regatta, but in the end got more used to it. Of course we are very happy to have win the event in Palma.”
In the end, Beijing Olympic gold medallists Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson took silver just one point astern of the Brazilians, but ahead of France's Xavier Rohart/Pierre Alexis Ponsot, winners of this year's Bacardi Cup.
“You never like to lose, not by a point and not when the last wave cost us the regatta, but it’s fine,” Percy remarked. “It’s the first event of the season, and I think winning would have been flattering of where we are at – we’ve got a lot of work to do and losing the regatta helps you realise that and I think at this time of the year that’s important. Last year we won this event really quite comfortably, and in some ways I look back and I think it made us maybe think we were a little bit ahead of where we were. This year it’s been drummed in pretty hard with some schoolboy errors. We’ve got some work to do.”
The event was Percy and Simpson’s first since the Perth World Championships where they were forced to withdraw when leading the regatta when Percy sustained a back injury. The 35-year-old is buoyed that his winter rehabilitation has stood him in good stead this week: "“I have in general felt fine – we had a little bit of breeze yesterday for a couple of races and felt fine. That’s actually a real positive to take from the week that I feel great now after that sail.”
In the 470 Men World Championship Mt Belcher and Malcolm Page (AUS) claimed the regatta by a substantial 18 points (make up for their lacklustre result here last year). Israelis Gideon Kliger and Eran Sela ended up with silver while last year's silver medallists here, the French team of Pierre Leboucher and Vincent Garos finished the regatta in third. Disappointingly no British teams had made it through to the Medal races in the 470 Men.
“It was nice to be able to finish things off today,” said Belcher. “We ended up second in the medal race but had some good opportunities to come away with the win, we were racing with the Greek crew the whole way and eventually they just got us at the line.
“We’re really happy to be able to come away with the win in our first event back in Europe, it shows that all of our hard work back home in Australia has paid off,” he said. “We’re in a good rhythm now and know where we are against the rest of the fleet.
“Mal and I have improved in the lighter conditions, it’s good to know that we can hang in there and then capitalise in our preferred conditions, like today."
Among the Women's, yesterday's leaders, the Japanese team of Ai Kondo and Wakako Tabata missed out on gold today after finished second to Giulia Conti and Giovanna Micol in the Medal race - the Italian duo showing a welcome return to form.
“This is a good way to start the year," said Conti. "We are comfortable in all conditions so the light winds of the first days or the breeze in the last days of the week were ok for us. After this event we are going to Hyères and then will do more preparation for the Olympic Games.”
Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark were out of medal contention heading into today's medal race and were hopeful of a solid finish to their regatta. The World Championship silver medallists crossed the line first in the Medal Race today, but were deemed to have been OCS, so were unable to improve on their tenth place. Sophie Weguelin and Sophie Ainsworth ended their event in fifth, with a seventh in the medal race.
In the 49er class, John Pink and Rick Peacock ended the regatta as the highest-placed Skandia Team GBR pairing, in fourth overall, while Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes won the medal race, to boost their final result to seventh. However Danes Jonas Warrer and Soren Hansen had enough lead going into the medal race to win despite finishing 7th today. The Beijing Olympic champion and new crew are gaining some valuable points to lead by one point the Danish 49er selection which will end at he Semaine Olympique Française in Hyères.
France's Manu Dyen and Stéphane Christidis, came close to winning a consecutive third title in Palma but are still satisfied with their second position. “Considering our racing this week, we are happy to finish second. The light conditions we had for most of the week was a good way for us to test our form in the light wind, after our winter training.” Tobias Schadewaldt and Hannes Baumann from Germany claimed the bronze.
With the Finn title already won by Ben Ainslie yesterday, the fight on the water was left for silver and bronze. After a start that disqualified half of the fleet, the Medal race was won by Andrew Mills (GBR) who just missed out a place on the podium by one point. Zach Railey (USA) held on to his second position, while Chris Cook (CAN) took the bronze.
Ainslie crossed the line second behind Mills, but was then found to have been one of five boats judged to have been OCS. He finishes the regatta 17 points ahead of the American Beijing silver medallist Zach Railey.
In the Women Match racing Finals, Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) took an early 2–0 lead over Claire Leroy (FRA). In the third flight, Leroy won the start and led all of the way around the course to stay alive and force another match. In the fourth flight, the match was very close until the leeward mark where Leroy had a messy spinnaker drop and never recovered. Tunnicliffe sailed to victory and a 3 -1 score to secure her team gold.
“We are very happy with our performance," said Tunnicliffe. "We are training hard for our trials and this is a good test to see where we are at and to see what areas we need to keep improving. The girls (Molly and Debbie) did a great job all week long in the tricky conditions, finding the wind and keeping the boat going fast.”
The first win in the Petit-Finals went to Olivia Price (AUS) lead all the way around the course. The second flight saw a penalty to Tamara Echegoyen (ESP) but she was able to clear it and still stay ahead to even the score 1 – 1. Price (AUS) lead around the course in the third flight to take the bronze medal.
Of the British performance this week in Palma, RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park commented of his charges’ performances: “It’s pleasing to be top nation here at the first European World Cup of the season. Ben’s performance was clearly sensational, but it hasn’t been plain sailing for any of our sailors this week. We’ve seen over the last few years that our international competition is getting tougher, and I’d say this is the first regatta where a few things have not gone our way – especially at the beginning of the week – for some of our selected Olympians.
“There are nine competing classes here, and nine different countries won the gold medals which reflects that increasing competition and serves as a reminder that no-one can rest on their laurels. On a more positive note, it’s been good to see that after a disappointing first three days of the regatta for a number of our teams, they maintained their composure and put together a good series for the second half of the event."
From Rick Tomlinson/www.rick-tomlinson.com