Ainslie - in at number 1
Tuesday March 26th 2002, Author: Sasha Oswald, Location: none selected
Ainslie - leads in his first Finn race...
The 2002 European Olympic Classes Regatta circuit kicked off in the bay of Palma today with the Princess Sofia Regatta. Racing got underway in light and shifty southwesterly breeze of 11 knots.
The Princess Sofia regatta has seen a record number of entries that is unlikely to be topped at any other Olympic Class event this year, with entries well into the hundreds in both the Europe Women and Laser class.
Fresh from a week of training in Palma, RYA team GBR were out on the water to test whether the hard training over the winter months had paid off. Three races were sailed in the Europe Women class, and early signs were showing that it had. After day one in the 128 boat fleet, Debbie Winstanley is the highest placed British girl lying in seventh place overall, with team mates Kirsty Bonar in eighth and Bryony Percy in fourteenth.
"A great start to the regatta for the Europe girls, who have been training hard over the winter. Kirsty, Debbie and Bryony all got good starts, and were sailing really well downwind," commented RYA National Racing Coach, Mark Barron.
In the 138 boat Laser class, RYA team GBR sailor Paul Goodison, had a great day, finishing with three first places, to put him at the top of the scoreboard, five points in front of Maxim Semerkhanov of Russia. The next highest placed Brit is team mate Tim Hulse who is lying in eleventh place after scoring an eighth, tenth and a fifth.
"Today was tricky, but I started well and sailed smart, I didn't take too many risks and got the results that were needed," commented Goodison.
A good start to the regatta for RYA team GBR sailors Helena Lucas and Jenny Heeley in the 470 Women's fleet, they finished the day with a first place, followed by a thirteenth and thirty fifth to put them in fourteenth place overall. The Greek pairing of Sofia Bekatorou and Emilia Tsoulfa are lying in poll position after the first day with seven points ahead of Greek team mates Dimitra Milona and Aliki Korkoulou.
Gustavo Martinez Doreste and Tunte Cantero of Spain lead the Men's 470 fleet on tied points with Alvaro Marhinho and Miguel Nunes of Portugal. RYA team GBR sailors Nick Rogers and Joe Glanfield are lying in twelfth place overall after finishing with a seventh, twelfth and eleventh in this 85 boat fleet.
Fresh from a fourth place at the Bacardi Cup in Miami earlier this month, Olympic Gold Medallist Iain Percy and crew Steve Mitchell return to Europe to line up against the best of the European Star sailors and carry on their intensive training programme. A good start to the regatta saw them finish with two second places and a ninth, putting them in third place overall behind Nicklas Holm/Martin Leifelt of Denmark and Alexander Hagen/Carsten Witt of Germany.
"The conditions today were fairly light and fluky, we were sailing well downwind but felt we needed to do some further rig adjustments for the upwind legs. We are however pleased with how the first day went," remarked Percy.
Close racing was encountered in the 68 boat Tornado class, the Spanish pairing of Fernando Echavarri and Anton Paz seemed to have the edge on the fleet, finishing with a first, second and a fourth to put them at the top of the leader board. RYA team GBR sailors Rob Wilson and Will Howden, were the top placed British boat in eleventh place, with Steven Lovegrove and Martin Sellars in eleventh place and Sydney Olympians, Hugh Styles and Adam May in twenty second place.
In the highly competitive 65 boat Finn class, there was a surprise in store. Laser Gold Medallist Ben Ainslie who has recently made the transition from Laser sailing to America's Cup and finally to settle in the Finn class, was showing good form, finishing ninth in the first race and then third and first in the last race of the day to put him in first place overall after day one. Team mate Andrew Simpson also had a good day finishing two points behind Ainslie to finish day one in second place overall.
The Spanish pairing of Iker Martinez/Xabier Fernandez sailed consistently in the 49er, to place three results inside the top five, which put them at the top of the leader board. The highest placed British boat after day one is Paul Brotherton who is sailing with Sydney Olympic Silver Medallist, Simon Hiscocks, who are lying in eighth place overall. A good day for team mates Chris Draper and crew Mark Asquith who finished the day in eleventh place overall.
After three races, Sandrine Nuvolone of France is leading the 34 boat Mistral Women class from team mate Faustine Merret. Bryony Shaw is the highest placed British sailor in twenty second place overall.
A consistent start to the regatta for RYA team GBR sailor Dom Tidey, scoring a second, fifth and a sixth, placed him in fifth place overall. Team mate and Sydney Olympian Nick Dempsey is lying in twenty third place overall.
In the 22 boat Yngling fleet, a new edition to the Olympic Classes, it was the Spanish girls under the helm of Monica Azon that shone through posting a third, first and a second, to give them a twelve point lead over their nearest rival. Paralympic coach at the 2000 Olympics, Cathy Foster is the top placed British team in eighteenth place.
Racing at the Princess Sofia Regatta concludes on Friday 29th March, with the Trofeo SAR Princesa Sofia being presented that evening to the winner of each class.
See page two for results...