Points score reset
Racing entered its first day of the finals series at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Palma – Princess Sofia MAPFRE with the annoying, confusing and over complicated new scoring system being trialled going some way to partially resetting the results.
In the Finn, Giles Scott continued his ‘holiday’ from America’s Cup sailing with two wins from three races to extend his lead. The 25-year-old who was Finn World and European Champion in 2011, has been taking a sabbatical from the Olympic heavyweight class to work with the Italian Luna Rossa America's Cup challenger, but has returned to his dinghy roots to compete in the Palma and Hyeres World Cup regattas this month.
“It was really good,” said Scott of the racing today. “It started off pretty light but we had 10 knots suddenly come in and from then it slowly picked up through the day to about 15 or 16. It was typical sort of Palma with a left trend in the breeze and today, unlike other days, I was able to get off the startline which helped me a little bit!”
Of his return he added: “The biggest thing that’s surprised me is that I’m still able to hike! I seem to be going alright but there’s a few bits of rust here and there that I’ve noticed – I suppose you can expect that after not having done much [Finn] sailing at all!”
The British team sailors in the heavyweight Finn class had a solid day all round, with Scott and teammates Mark Andrews and Andrew Mills almost closing out a GBR clean sweep in the third race of the day, but the Netherlands’ Pieter Jan Postma spoiled the party. He squeezed in to take third place ahead of Mills, but behind race winner Scott and Andrews, and stands between the British boys and all three podium places with two days of racing to go. The Dutchman is second in the overall standings behind Scott, with Mills currently poised in the bronze medal spot and Andrews in fourth. A full round-up of the Finn racing can be read at the bottom of this page...
The 49ers have a new leader in Germans Erik Heil and Thomas Ploessel scored three bullets today elevating them from eighth into the lead. On '0' points, under the new scoring system, they now lead Britain's David Evans and Edward Powys in second on 9 points, while London bronze medallist Denmark's Allan Noregaard with new crew Anders Thomsen are third. Overnight leaders Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes ended the day on a high with a second place from race four but have dropped to fourth place overall.
In the 49erFX, talented young Danes, Ida Marie Baad Nielsen and Marie Thusgaard Olsen have not felt the effects of the scoreline reset going into the finals and like the German 49er sailors, posted three bullets today.
“We have been sailing together in the 29er for six years already and trained for four months in the 49er once the 49er FX was announced as Olympic boat,” explained the Danes. “We have a good speed upwind and then downwind we know how to handle the boat and react quickly to follow the wind shifts. The trickier the wind, the more advantage we have, but we especially love to sail the skiff in the breeze. Being skiff sailors really help but we are sure that the other girls will work it out quickly.”
The Danish 49er FX teams are training together with the guys. “We learn a lot from them, some have been sailing the 49er for a long time and are very experienced.”
The Danes maintain their solid lead however the reset benefitted ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami victors Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA), 14th after the qualification stages, who have climbed to second after discarding their carry forward race, and only counting their final race scores. However the Brazilians are tied on points with the new ex-Radial/470 pairing of Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth. The Brits were unfortunate to capsize just metres from the finish line when in third place in the first race of the day, eventually finishing 12th, but picked up 2,3 from their subsequent two races. Penny Clark and birthday girl Nicola Groves, 24 today, are in eighth place overall with scores of 4,9 sandwiching a discardable 25th.
The results reset has had considerable effect on the Laser where Croat Tonci Stipanovic has climbed from seventh to first position after taking two bullets today. “There were three tough races, in the first and the third I did really great,” said Stpanovic. “Although I did not think that I would have enough strength for the third one I said to myself I have to push and give what I can. I had a good start and it was going very easy and on the end of the second upwind I passed the New Zealander and I was leading to the finish.”
However in terms of 'net' points the Croat is just one ahead of yesterday's leader German Philipp Buhl, in turn tied on points with Australian Tom Burton with Kiwi Andy Maloney just two points behind.
“I had a nice start to the finals,” said Burton. “We had around 12 to 20 knots today and I had some nice upwind speed to lead in the first two races. Unfortunately I dropped a place in both races to eventually finish second. The final race of the day was very close at the front and for the first time I was able to take some places down the last run to finish fifth."
Shock horror - in the Laser Radial, Britain's Ali Young didn't score a further string of bullets. However although she has dropped to second but tied on points Dane Sarah Gunni, who won today's third and final race, Young's scoreline is still respectible discarding a fourth. Tatiana Drozdovskaya (BLR) has climbed from eighth to third thanks to winning race two, while race one was claimed by Turkey's Nazli Cagla Donertas.
In the 470 Men, the point reset has had little effect, thanks to Aussie London 2012 gold medallist Mat Belcher and crew Will Ryan scoring three bullets today, while Britain's Olympic silver medallists, Luke Patience and Joe Glanfield, maintain second, tied on points with Greece's Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis.
“We definitely could not have had a better way to start the finals,” said Will Ryan. “The gold fleet racing always brings with it a higher level of competition so we knew we had to lift our level today if we wanted to do well.
“We had three long races in 10 to 16 knots which was at times a little unstable so our plan was to try and keep it a bit safe, but it is racing so we are always trying to push it at the same time,” he said. “It was really good to have all the top guys in the one fleet and to get a feeling for the level of the fleet and our level of development. For sure we had a good day today but it’s a process and tomorrow is another day, and then we have two double point medal races on Saturday so the regatta virtually starts again.”
Similarly Britain's Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre have held the lead in the 470 Women, after their two wins from three races today.
Weguelin, 24, describes having the race leader’s bibs to wear as ‘an added bonus’ but insists their goals this week are focused on gelling as a crew. “This regatta’s about the processes and getting a lot of the routines in place because obviously we’re quite a new team together.
“It’s a bit frustrating that it’s a new format and the previous results don’t really count for anything in hindsight, but we just went out and carried on with what we’re here to work on. There are still a lot of things that can change with the two medal races and still two races tomorrow, so we’ll see!”
McIntyre, 18-year-old daughter of the 1988 Olympic Star gold medallist added: “We’ve got really good pace – up and downwind. We’ve been working really hard on our communication which is really helping, and just focussing on all our processes so we can build on our new team and on the things that do work.”
In the Nacra 17 mixed catamaran, the Dutch are on top. Mandy Mulder and Thijs Visser ended day in first place after a 1-2-3, however the day was not so good for overnight leaders Renne Groeneveld and Karel Begemann. After winning the first race, they collided with the French boat sailed by Billy Besson and Marie Riou.
After rounding the top mark the Dutch boat nose-dived, breaking it spinnaker pole and ended up head to wind. After the French team cleared the mark they were overlapped to leeward of American Sarah Newberry and John Casey with both crews on starboard tack. As the Americans bore away the French could not avoid them and subsequently crashed straight into the Dutch boat, which was forced to retire. After an afternoon in the protest room the Americans were disqualified and slipped to fifth while redress was given to the Dutch team and they now sit second behind their team mates.
The top British Nacra 17 is currently Lucy Macgregor and Tom Phipps in eighth place, while Ben Saxton and Hannah Diamond have dropped to 11th.
The RS:X is where the host nation of Spain is showing their best results. Ivan Pastor is leading the Men’s division with two victories today, and is leading Julien Bontemps (FRA) and Toni Wilhelm (GER). Meanwhile in the Women's class Blanca Manchon has moved up three places to third position.
“I am very happy with the way I went today,” said Manchon who broke her sail between races. “I put a patch on it and it was fine. I am still very fast so I am satisfied with the day. There are still two final races to go and two medal races. The results are very close so anything can happen.”
Britain's Bryony Shaw pulled off her best day of the event picking up two race wins to take the lead in the RS:X Women, with Mayaan Davidovich (ISR) slipping to second.
In sole Paralympic class at the Trofeo Princesa Sofia, the 2.4mR, Bjornar Erikstad (NOR) scored back to back victories today to take the lead from Britain's Megan Pascoe (GBR).
Action in Palma resumes tomorrow when the top ten places for Saturday's Medal Races are decided.
From Nico Martinez/www.studiomartinez.es
Robert Deaves' Finn focus
On the first day of the finals series for Finns at the Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofía MAPFRE in Palma de Mallorca Giles Scott (GBR) took two wins and a second to move into an six point lead from the only other race winner Pieter-Jan Postma (NED). Andrew Mills (GBR) continues his good form to hold onto third place.
The Finns had a short postponement out on the water, waiting for the wind to settle in direction, before had three races with free pumping with the wind starting out with 12 knots and building during the day to peak with gusts of 18 knots.
The fleet was split into silver and gold flights. Scott had the best of the day to discard his second place to end with zero points. Postma sailed his best day so far with a 3,1 3 while third placed Mills scored 2, 10, 4.
Just six point separate fourth to eighth, the Mark Andrews (GBR) posting another good day and the two Kiwi sailors Josh Junior (NZL) and Andrew Murdoch (NZL) performing very well as newcomers to the class. They currently lie in seventh and eighth.
Scott admits to finding the switch back from a 72 foot America’s Cup multihull to the Finn a refreshing change, and is pleased not to have lost too much of his form. “The biggest thing that’s surprised me is that I’m still able to hike. I seem to be going alright but there’s a few bits of rust here and there that I’ve noticed – I suppose you can expect that after not having done much [Finn] sailing at all.”
“Today was typical Palma with a left trend in the breeze and, unlike other days, I was able to get off the start line which helped me a little bit”
Postma said, “It's been great racing here in Palma. We have a strong fleet and perfect conditions. The Brits are sailing fast, and are on top. For me it's taking a lot of rust off the racing. I have been training a bit in the spring, but by myself, so speed is good, but I have lost having my head inside in my boat. Today was different I could get the boat going and could battle for the front.”
On the new scoring format he commented, “The format is remarkable. It's good that we test some this year to make the right and convinced call on the ISAF conference in November. For this format I hear that everybody including me is convinced, this one ain't it.”
“Sailing is a sport with a lot of components and variables, so for me it's not like, for example, swimming where only last race counts. For me it's like the cycling, Tour de France, it's best over a period of time. Also we need to educate the journalists and explain how sailing is working instead of putting to much emphasis on a last day, mostly because we depend on the weather.
Piotr Kula (POL) is having a great regatta, currently lying in ninth overall. “We had tough day today. Strong wind, quite big waves and all this in three demanding races. I believe everybody is exhausted after that.” The format, “..is pretty different from what we got used to. If you"ll check the results, you"ll find that some guys already have discards on score, they had after qualifying series. Which practically means, their three days racing result is now discarded. Pretty strange, but interesting at the same time. The double medal race should be intriguing as well. We will see if that's going to be the standard in the future.”
Fourth placed Andrews said, “It was a tough and important day today with the regatta being reset but it was all to play for. The forecast was for the wind to shift left all day so it was important to get a good start and hold your lane to the left. There was the odd shift here and there but the leaders all came from the left.
“Giles and PJ showed good pace all day and the results show it. New Kiwi sailor Andrew Murdoch sailed really well in the first two races in the day great starts and some good pace down wind.
“To tell you the truth I am a bit broken. I think it's time to get back in the gym. Today went as a bit of a blur, all hiking to hold your lane and pumping like crazy to make the gains down wind.”
“The forecast tomorrow is light, shifty and rainy so another important day with the points being so close.”
Bjorn Allanson (SWE) is in 12th overall. “It was a bit like the regatta restarted today, but with only 36 boats on the starting line. Racing was close and a mistake could cost you plenty. There was no time and no space to relax, together with some hard downwinds resulted in a sailing day when it is at its best. I think the new scoring system made everybody push extra hard today, as everything was still open which was great.”
“Today I managed to get three good starts, finally, making my day a lot easier for myself. I rounded the first mark in the top ten all three races. I feel I have a lot of effort that I need to put in to the boat over the coming months, But overall I'm happy with my day and it feels like I am learning and improving every day out on the water.”
The finals series concludes on Friday before Saturday's medal racing.
More pics from Jesus Renedo/www.sailingstock.com