Strong start at Princess Sofia
Racing started today at the 44th Trofeo Sofia Mapfre, also known now as the ISAF Sailing World Cup Palma, with big wind and waves, providing challenging conditions. In the conditions the 49erFX, Nacra 17 and 2.4mR didn't race, nor did the 49ers in the blue group. Otherwise across the classes, favourites have taken an early lead.
With Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark still 'resting' post London 2012, Britain's Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh Mcintyre are on a perfect scoreline after today's two races for the 470 Women.
European Champion Weguelin, 24, teamed up with Mike McIntyre's 18-year-old daughter at the start of the year and described their opening day as ‘awesome’. “It was pretty full-on for the first day, but good though. We were pretty fast on the racecourse so that made things quite simple and then we just played it quite simply. We were just trying to do the basic stuff well.
“Obviously we’re quite a young team so there’s a lot to learn, but everyone’s quite supportive. Keeping a level head with five days of racing still to go. I wouldn’t say we’ve got huge expectations for this week, but it’s quite a new fleet, so everyone’s in the same boat really. For us it’s just about getting routines in place, seeing how it goes and learning.”
Britain's Ali Young, who finished fifth at her first Olympic Games last summer, also posted a perfect opening day scorecard with two dominant race wins in the Laser Radials. Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN) and Sarah Gunni (DEN) are second and third on equal points with a 4th and a first place. They are closely followed by French crews taking the next four places.
In the 470 Men the leaders are currently neck and neck, with London 2012 gold medallist Mat Belcher and his new crew Will Ryan and Austria Matthias Schmid/Florian Reichstaedter holding the lead in their respective fleets, both with two bullets.
“It was a really enjoyable day out there today, only a limited number of classes were able to race due to the strong winds so it was great to be out there,” said Belcher. “With two wins from two races we can’t ask for too much more than that.
“We certainly settled down more in the second race to maintain our rhythm in the boat. It was tough conditions with the second race getting up to 30 plus knots and it was the first time we’ve sailed in those conditions together, so we’re pretty happy to get around,” he said. “We’ve only just started sailing together so we’re just enjoying the racing and trying to develop the best we can together. We’re still talking through how we’re going to gybe while racing so we have plenty to do.
“We know we’ve been sailing well but it’s nice to get the confirmation with a couple of wins today,” he said. “But sailing is a marathon and tomorrow is another day, with different conditions, different wind direction, and racing different boats, so we’ll see what tomorrow brings.”
The new British 470 supreme team of 2012 silver medallist Luke Patience and double Olympic silver medallist Joe Glanfield. were happy with their first day of World Cup racing since announcing their joint Rio campaign in the 470 class last month. They picked up a 3-2 and sit third overall, with the 33-year-old Glanfield revelling in the conditions for his racing comeback.
“I can’t believe it – our first day at a World Cup event, and we get touching 25 knots at times. It was exactly what I was looking forward to about sailing again, and it all felt great,” Glanfield enthused. “We made a couple of mistakes and went for a little swim in the first race when we were winning, but we got it back upright and back on track pretty quick. It wasn’t without its teething problems, but in the same breath we definitely had a pretty good day and we were fast so that was good.
“Our primary goal for this [week] is to assess where we are, where are the big weaknesses and what do we need to focus on in training, so in the ideal world we’ll get a bit of everything. But I’d definitely like another day like this!”
Patience added: “We went into today really in two minds. Firstly, just to go out and enjoy it – to enjoy our first two races together and enjoy the start of things, and obviously also to hope to come away from the day with a bit of hope that the small amount of training that we’ve done has been productive and that we’ve not absolutely useless!
“We’ve had a good day – we’ve managed to A, have fun, and B, come away seeing that we’re not absolutely useless! It’s been wild out there, windy and wavy and just the most awesome conditions to get racing in, so it’s a nice start and we’re happy."
The 49er crews had a tough day in Palma. After two races in the yellow group, racing was canned. The British team of Dave Evans and Ed Powys demonstrated their mastery of the heavy weather with a 1-3. Britain's Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign started the day well with a third but, along with the vast majority of the yellow fleet, were judged to finish the second race within the time limit due to numerous capsizes amid the tough conditions. (There was no racing in the blue fleet, which includes Olympians Stevie Morrison-Ben Rhodes and the new pairing of Stuart Bithell-Chris Grube).
The Danish teams are also looking strong. Beijing gold medallist Jonas Warrer (DEN) is now sailing with London 2012 bronze medal winning crew Peter Lang (DEN), while Lang's former helm Allan Norregaard is now sailing with Anders Thomsen (DEN). Both finished top ten in the first race, and were 1-2 in the second.
After today windy races, Danish 49er coach Peter Hansen explained the key to their success: “Our 49er project started as soon as the skiff was selected for the Sydney Olympic Games. We have build up a base with lots of teams and they have been working hard, sharing and progressing together. We keep adding new and younger teams and they learn from the others. It is a good way to keep growing our potential.”
Of his decision to sail with Peter Lang this season, Jonas Warrer commented: “It was a logical choice. We believe that changing crew increase our learning curve. Allan and Peter had decided to part after the London Olympics; and it was the same situation for Jonas and Soren Hansen. However, we left it up to the sailors to decide.
"I have sailed with four different crews in the 49ers, so for me it is a way to improve and to keep learning. Peter is young, full of energy and super fast in the boat. It is also interesting for me to learn from him after he won the selection and a medal in London. We are a good combination and trained a lot in Palma since the start of February. Palma is our first event together and so far it is going well. If we don't make any mistake we can win it again.”
The Danish 49erFX team is following the same formula. “We have stared with five teams and they are all training with the guys. It is working well. The girls are learning fast, and it is creating a good dynamic,” said head coach Thomas Jacobsen.
2011 European and World Champion Giles Scott won the opening race in the Finn, with London Bronze medallist Jonathan Lobert (FRA) claiming the second. It was almost a near-perfect return to the Finn for Scott, who’s been taking time out of the Olympic class while on America’s Cup duty with Luna Rossa. After winning the first race Scott had a sizeable lead in the second race when a capsize knocked him back into second. Yet despite holding a 0-2 scoreline, compared to Lobert's 0-6, he lies in second place. This is due to a new format and ranking system being trialled in Palma, when there are 0 points in first while a discard kick in from the second race.
In the Laser where Tom Burton (AUS) and Philip Buhl (GER) scored two bullets in their respective fleets.
“The forecast for today was for 25 to 30 knots but surprisingly we left the beach in a lighter breeze,” said Burton. “It built by the first start and ended up being a big hike off and some massive waves.
“I had some nice conservative starts towards the middle and had some nice speed to be in the game at the top mark and was first by the bottom mark in both races,” he said. “The waves built quite a lot and the downwinds ended up being pretty fast and fun. I had a nice day with two firsts although with the new point system with qualifying only equal to one race the game won’t really start until day four.”
Toni Wilhelm (GER), Julien Bontemps (FRA) and Ricardo Santos (BRA) are leading the RS:X men with the young German collecting two bullets.
Maayan Davidovich (ISR) is continuing in her good form after winning the ISAF SWC Miami with a race victory. She is taking the lead with her discard from World #1 Flavia Tartaglini (ITA).
The forecast for the second day of racing is for a 15 knot northwesterly breeze. This will hopefully allow all classes to race.