Strong line up for the Princesa Sofia
From 31 March to 5 April 882 sailors from 55 nations will race at ISAF Sailing World Cup Mallorca – Trofeo Princesa Sofia.
The fourth of five ISAF Sailing World Cup regattas will see the world's top competitor's race across one Paralympic and ten Olympic events.
160 Lasers have registered to sail in Mallorca, making it the biggest fleet. The top ten sailors in the Laser ISAF World Sailing Rankings will be joined by a number of strong and well developed racers who will all be aiming for the podium places.
In the 2013 edition New Zealand's Andy Maloney came from behind on the final day to claim gold ahead of Tom Burton (AUS). Following a break after the 2013 Laser World Championship in Musannah, Oman the defending champion is looking forward to taking to the water in Mallorca.
"I am always buzzing to get back over to Europe this time of the year, and get back into racing against all of the best,” commented Maloney. "The thing that makes the Laser Class so appealing to me is the tight racing, this is what excites me about the class and I can't wait to get back into that competitive racing.”
Maloney has seen his competitors, World #1 Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) and World #2 Tom Burton (AUS), take top honours at ISAF Sailing World Qingdao, Melbourne and Miami but as a consistent performer throughout 2013 he comes in ready and poised to strike, "I am always confident that I can win any event going into it. I feel very prepared after three months training in NZ focussing on key areas to improve and am excited to line up against the other top guys again.
"There are definitely a few sailors who were very consistent last year and set the bar towards the end of the season. It was an interesting year for myself with a lot of different events going on, making it really busy and long. I'm feeling totally refreshed after the summer in New Zealand and feel I can start off 2014 as I did last year.”
The Kiwi racer will be joined by a whole host of newcomers and seasoned professionals which will make for high calibre racing come the first warning signal.
A fleet of 106 Laser Radials have signed up to race in Mallorca with all three Laser Radial gold medallists from the 2013-2014 Sailing World Cup registered. ISAF Sailing World Cup Qingdao victor Dongshuang Zhang (CHN), Melbourne gold medallist Tatiana Drozdovskaya (BLR) and Miami winner Paige Railey (USA) will all compete in Palma Bay.
They will be joined by 2013 Laser Radial World Champion Tina Mihelic (CRO) and London 2012 medallists Marit Bouwmeester (NED) and Evi Van Acker (BEL). Alison Young (GBR) returns to defend her title.
Mat Belcher and Will Ryan's (AUS) unbeaten Men's 470 run came to an end at ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami. World #3 Sofian Bouvet and Jeremie Mion (FRA) spoilt the Australian party by taking gold in Miami. "That was a good feeling, for sure,” said Mion, "but that was not the goal of the year. We are thinking more about the World Championship and the test event in Rio. So yes we were happy, but now we are going back to work because there is a lot to do.”
An experienced 80-boat 470 fleet will compete in Mallorca and Mion knows the racing will be tight: "There are a lot of boats who can be really good there and we know that everybody will be very close. It's going to be a good fight. The French teams will be good this week and the Argentineans are also in a good period but there are a lot of good teams.”
The French have reason to see a threat in Argentina's Lucas Calabrese and Juan de la Fuente as the World #2 pair come into ISAF Sailing World Cup Mallorca in good form.
De la Fuente said: "We came to Palma early to race in the Training Camp Regatta. It was a pretty good level and we managed to win the regatta so a nice way to start the season. We are ranked World #2 and Bouvet and Mion are World #3 so I guess that is the reason for his sayings. But the ones to watch are always the Australians of course.”
Belcher and Ryan will be back in Mallorca to defend their 2013 title and get back to winning ways. They will be joined by World #4 Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic (CRO) and World #5 Luke Patience (GBR) who is joined by new crew Elliot Willis.
470 Women's 470 boats are down to compete in Mallorca and the fleet features 2013 ISAF Rolex World Sailors of the Year Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie (NZL), World #1 Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre (GBR) and World #3 Anne Haeger and Briana Provancha (USA).
Fernanda Oliveira and Ana Luiza Barbachan (BRA) blew the Women's 470 field apart throughout the 2012-2013 ISAF Sailing World Cup series taking three victories from three events. The Brazilians have been out of action since July 2013 after Oliveira became a mother so they will be hoping to make an impression at their first major event of 2014.
World #1 Finn sailor Oliver Tweddell and ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami Finn gold medallist Giles Scott (GBR) will go head to head again in the 99-boat Finn fleet in Mallorca. Scott trailed Tweddell ahead of the Miami Medal Race and managed to put enough boats in between him and the Australian to pick up gold. For Tweddell it was his second consecutive World Cup silver after he fell a point short of Bjorn Allansson (SWE) in Melbourne.
Allansson will join the Finn fleet in Mallorca as will Miami bronze medallist and 2013 World Champion Jorge Zarif (BRA) and London 2012 bronze medallist Jonathan Lobert (FRA).
Racing commences on Monday 31 March across one Paralympic and ten Olympic events at ISAF Sailing World Cup Mallorca.