Gold for Scott and Young
Alison Young and Giles Scott topped the seven-medal haul for Britain’s sailors today at the conclusion of the 44th Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mapfre – third event in the ISAF Sailing World Cup circuit. The new scoring format being trialled at this regatta includes a change to two double-points medal races for the majority of the Olympic classes.
In the Laser Radial, Ali Young maintained her overall lead after the first of the day’s two races, but was left fighting back in the second. Her closest rival and the only sailor who could prevent her from winning gold was Denmark’s Sarah Gunni . The Dane got off to a better start and at one stage had enough boats between her and the Brit to overhaul her, but the Bewdley Olympian pulled back alongside Gunni and once she had her in her sights, match raced her to the back of the fleet to ensure she couldn’t get away again. It meant that Young crossed the line tenth out of ten boats in the final medal race, but had dragged her rival back with her to ninth place to ensure gold remained in her hands.
“Going into the last race it was only the Danish girl who could beat me, so coming down the run I was just going to make sure of it, and make sure she couldn’t get boats between us,” said Young of her tactics. “I’m pretty pleased to come away with a win – I’ve learned lots of lessons here, it shows all the winter’s training is going in the right direction so I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.”
Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN) won the final Medal Race to pick up bronze.
Giles Scott was also forced to deploy match racing tactics at the start of the final Finn medal race to get the better of Dutchman Pieter Jan Postma, who had narrowed Scott’s lead to just one point after today's first medal race. Scott went on to finish sixth and with Postma last, the Brit managed to win by five points.
“It feels good actually," said Scott. "It was quite stressful with the double medal race. Matt [Howard - coach] had a little bit on trying to work out the maths to see if we could do the take-out in the pre-start. I think he got it alright and it came good! We needed to get a decent result in the first race, and then see how the points were, and as it was I finished a place behind [Postma] so it came down to who beat who in the final race. We had a little bit of an engagement in the pre-start which was good fun and fortunately I came off the better! He also made it a little bit easier for me half way round when he capsized!”
The two Finn medal races were each won by Brits, with Mark Andrews winning the first and Andrew Mills the second to end their regattas in sixth and fifth respectively. Double Olympic Laser medallist, Slovenia's Vasilij Zbogar came home third. More on the Finns below.
The biggest margin of victory at in the Princess Sofia Mapfre was in the 49er where Germany’s Erik Heil and Thomas Ploessel secured their first major regatta victory to win by 26 points ahead of Danish London 2012 medallist Allan Norregaard and new crew Alders Thomsen, who have overhaulled Britain's David Evans and Edward Powys. The Brits were nonetheless pleased with what was their first ever podium finish at a World Cup sailing event.
“We had an average qualification stage and got into the finals in eighth position,” said Heil. “Our first final day was great with three wins. Today we had another win and top three results only in the four Medal Races. We have great speed and enjoy the breeze, so this was a week for us.”
The medal race format was slightly different for the 49ers and FXes with the top eight sailing four short medal races. Two of the four race were won by France's Mathieu Frei and Yann Rocherieux. They finished fifth overall while Britain's London 2012 representatives Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes were fourth, nine points short of the podium.
In the 49er FX Danes Ida Marie Baad Nielsen and Marie Thusgaard were awarded the 'Absolute Winner' trophy, recognising the sailors who posted the best average score over the regatta. They had another incredible days winning three of the four Medal Races.
“We tried to be very relaxed and focussed going into the Medal Races,” Nielsen said. “Our main decision was to decide whether to go right or left after the start to find a position where we could be alone and able to make our moves freely. It was great fun with this stadium format to have so many tacks and gybes! It was tiring too because we needed to concentrate and anticipate our next move.”
Alexandra Maloney and Molly Meech (NZL) were never too far behind the Danes, and took the last race win to finish up second overall while another Danish team, Jena Mai Hansen and Katja Salskov-Iversen completed the podium. Britain's Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth finished fifth overall.
The biggest medal race turnaround occurred in the Laser class where Kiwi Andy Maloney nailed the medal races and with two race wins managed to recoup a huge deficit on and then overtake Australia’s Tom Burton, who despite a steady first race had a disaster in the second: “I was set up pretty well for the last one so I could only get beaten by one guy,” said Burton. “I ended up getting an OCS and he beat me. So a few tough lessons and probably something I won’t do again but these things happen.”
Maloney was able to capitalise on Burton’s mistake and was delighted with the way it went: “It was a really good day. With the new system there were a lot of points up for grabs and it went pretty well to get two wins and I couldn’t ask for much more. It feels pretty good to come from equal third to win the event. It was a bit unfortunate for Tom Burton in the last race but that happens to all of us.”
Another Kiwi, Sam Meech, rounded off the Laser podium.
In the 470 Men, the retired Malcolm Page will no doubt have been sending messages of congratulations to his London 2012 gold medal winning helm Mat Belcher, who with Page's replacement Will Ryan on the wire, also put in one of the most dominant performances in Palma this week.
With shifty conditions only one Men’s 470 Medal Race was completed today. The second medal race was started but eventually abandoned due to the windshift and could not be re-started due to the time limit for racing on this final day having passed. A fourth for the Aussies ensured them victory by 21 points.
“It’s been a good week,” said Will Ryan. “A lot of it has been about our own development and finding where we’re at and we’ve had a full range of conditions which has helped. To see where we are in terms of the rest of the fleet and ourselves has been a unique opportunity. The new format put a different spin on it and kind of kept the pressure on all week. It’s been pretty challenging but we’re more than happy with the outcome.”
Belcher said that the week provided a great opportunity to see where they were after training at home over the Australian summer. “The motivation is right up there, there are a lot of teams that have new partnerships and the ones that haven’t are obviously in very good shape from the Olympics so for us it was essential to be here. We wanted to see where we are as a team and know where we need to go and what we need to do. The competition was tough and it was fantastic to continue what we did last year and for Will and I to build confidence, it’s a good position to be in."
Greece’s Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis ended up second with Luke Patience and Joe Glanfield (GBR) third.
In their first regatta since teaming up, the British crew went into the medal races third overall, and clung on to the bronze medal after a tricky first race in which they finished seventh.
Among the Women Fernanda Oliveira and Ana Barbachan (BRA) came fifth in the days first Medal Race and won the last, to claim gold.
“We are very happy,” exclaimed Barbachan. “We didn't expect to win like this. We thought it would be a hardest race but these conditions seemed to be nice for us."
Britain's Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh Mcintyre finished second ahead of the American duo Anne Haeger and Briana Provancha in third.
In the Nacra 17s, despite a mid-race mishap, the Netherlands' Mandy Mulder and Thijs Visser claimed gold over their team mates Renee Groenenveld and Karel Begemann.
“We had some issues during the races and in the first one we capsized,” explained Mulder. “One boat nose-dived just in front of us and we had starboard and I was like ‘uh oh we’re going to hit the boat’ so I went inside very quickly and then I went swimming behind the boat and it capsized. We were top three but got upright really quick and ended up sixth.”
France's Moana Vaireaux and Manon Audinet completed the Nacra 17 podium. “We are happy about our speed. We made some tactical errors today on the last race, but in definite, I am happy to be able to prove myself on the Olympic circuit” said Vairaux.
Among the Brits, Lucy Macgregor and Tom Phipps ended up fifth with a third and a second from their medal races while Pippa Wilson and John Gimson were eighth overall.
Sadly, after a sterling week, Bryony Shaw was displaced from her gold position in the RS:X Women during today's medal races. Italy's Flavia Tartaglini stepped it up and in winning both medal races, claimed first prize.
The World #1 was all smiles on shore after racing, “I’m super happy,” said Tartaglini. “I just had a perfect day. I was coming into the day in fourth so a pretty good position. I was not that close to the first but with two Medal Races everything is possible so I tried to do two good races to finish the competition and it paid off.”
Germany’s Moana Delle ended up third.
For the host nation there was some consolation in the Men's division where ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami Men’s champion Ivan Pastor made it two World Cup golds in a row after he scored two fourths in today's medal races. The Spaniard led coming into the final day and held on to top spot. Toni Wilhelm (GER) and Kiran Badloe (NED) took the race wins and subsequently moved up to take the final two podium places.
Sailors focus now turns to ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyeres in the South of France. Racing gets going on 22 April through to 27.
Of the British effort, RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park commented: “It’s been a good start to our competition season. As well as some fantastic performances by proven performers such as Ali Young and Giles Scott, there have been two really good things to have come out of this regatta. The first is the potential of so many of our new, young teams such as Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre and our teams in the new 49erFX and Nacra classes.
“The second is that the team has had a cracking week together, has had good fun, and everyone is really looking forward to the next event and excited about racing again in Hyeres in two week’s time.”
However Park remains unconvinced about the racing format which has been trialled in Palma this week: “The scoring format has been challenging for sailors, race teams and event organisers alike. It’s not necessarily been clear what the desired outcome was, or has been, other than increasing the element of luck in the process. There’s a whole heap of sailing before you even get to the medal stage that doesn’t seem to count for much. On the positive side though, we do know that these are trials, and that ISAF is open to feedback which they will take forward to discuss with its various stakeholders to test at future World Cup events before deciding on what is best for the future of the sport.”
Giles Scott also gave his views on the new format: "It did work out all right for me but I don't really like it as I prefer consistency over the week and the varied conditions to be recognised in the results.”
Full results here
Finn Focus from Robert Deaves
Giles Scott (GBR) took a narrow one place victory over Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) in the double medal race finale to the Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofía MAPFRE in Palma de Mallorca on Saturday. Race wins went to British team mates Andrew Mills (GBR) and Mark Andrews (GBR).
Two short medal races were sailed to trial a new scoring and race format for the week, which judging by feedback received so far, most of the sailors are not very comfortable with.
Postma took the first advantage beating Scott in the first medal race to narrow Scott's lead to just one point. It came down to a tense match race in the second heat to decide the winner. Scott deployed better tactics at the start of the final race to get the better of Dutchman.
“It was quite stressful with the double medal race. Matt had a little bit on trying to work out the maths to see if we could do the take-out in the pre-start. I think he got it alright and it came good.”
“We needed to get a decent result in the first race, and then see how the points were, and as it was I finished a place behind Postma so it came down to who beat who in the final race.”
“PJ and I then match raced at the start of the second race, I finally succeeded in forcing him into an uncomfortable position and took a safe advance over him. We had a little bit of an engagement in the pre-start which was good fun and fortunately I came off the better. He also made it a little bit easier for me half way round when he capsized.”
On the scoring format, “It did work out all right for me but I don't really like it as I prefer consistency over the week and the varied conditions to be recognised in the results.”
"I am happy to see that the break I have taken has not affected my performances Now I can go back to America's cup racing feeling good about it and guilt free."
Meanwhile Vasilij Zbogar (SLO) posted the best other scorings of the day to move up one place to take home the bronze, though with more than double the points of the two leaders.