by Lindsey Bell
At the ISAF Sailing World Cup Palma - Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mapfre, Great Britain’s sailors lead in five out of 11 classes, but the stakes are now raised heading into the second half of the week.
Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes - 44th Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mapfre
With the International Sailing Federation trialling a new scoring system at this World Cup event, sailors will effectively disregard their race scores to date, and carry forward just their overall position into the final series.
It means that Alison Young’s eleven point lead over Denmark’s Sarah Gunni at the top of the Laser Radial fleet is now reduced to just one point heading into the final three days of racing.
The Bewdley sailor won her fifth consecutive qualifying series race amid lighter winds on Wednesday, and scored a fourth in race six to continue her impressive form at this first European World Cup event of the season, while British team sailors are also topping the leaderboards in the Finn, 470 women, 49er and 2.4mR classes.
Exmouth pairing Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes are leading the 49er fleet at their first event back since the London Olympics, with Dave Evans and Ed Powys currently in second. But Morrison knows that with the new format, the tempo of the regatta will change from tomorrow.
'It’s a funny new format really where we’re not actually halfway through yet – we’re technically only one race in, so that’s an awful lot of effort [so far] for effectively just one race, but I guess they’re playing around with the format. I’m pretty unsure of this new format, but we’ll see as it goes along.'
Injuries to Rhodes over the winter months have to a longer than anticipated lay-off for the two-time Olympians, but the 31-year-old crew has been happy so far with his return to competition.
'It wasn’t really the ease in that the physios had recommended!' said Rhodes of strong wind conditions for the start of the regatta.
'We’d done four days’ sailing [since the Olympics] up until the day before yesterday so the 18-20 knots and big waves and four races was quite a shock to the system! But I stood up to it – massive thanks to all the physios and strength and conditioning guys who’ve helped get me back in one piece, but it’s all good.'
'Obviously the racing’s going to get a lot tighter with the standard getting higher, and there’s every chance that’s going to pick up some of the rusty points in our sailing,' conceded Morrison ahead of the final series which starts on Thursday.
'If we can stay relaxed and realistic about that then there’s no reason why we can’t make some good decisions and still get good results. But this week and the next couple of months are about just keeping a reasonable perspective on things – one thing is for sure is that we’re sailing really fast.
'The 49er is more than just about sailing fast, it’s about boat-handling and working really well together. We’re working well together, but we’ll see what happens when the pressure cranks up a notch tomorrow.'
Giles Scott will take a one point lead in to the final series of the Finn fleet, with teammates Andrew Mills and Mark Andrews currently in third and sixth overall, while Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre continue their good form at their first event together in the 470 women’s event. They lead the 43-boat fleet, scoring 3,9 on the water today.
Two race wins and a second from the day sees Megan Pascoe at the top of the standings in the 2.4mR Paralympic class, while Luke Patience and Joe Glanfield advanced to second overall in the 470 men’s fleet with a second and a race win under their belts for their last day of the qualifying series.
'It’s nice to not just be pulling the control lines as hard as you can and there’s a bit more finesse in the racing,' said Patience of the lighter sea breeze conditions on Wednesday.
'That’s the qualifying over and those six races we’ve now done counts for just one race, and for some people in the fleet that’s a discard so the whole first three days is really kind of irrelevant. Luckily for us we’ve had a good first six races and we’re second overall, so we’ve got a second.'
'It was nice to get a lighter breeze today,' Patience continued.'The conditions have just been gorgeous this week so far. We couldn’t have asked for much more and we’ve had good fun for our first time together in a big fleet like this.
'But we’ll see from here - the regatta starts again tomorrow!'
Bryony Shaw is third overall going into the final series for the RS:X women’s windsurfing fleet, while Ben Saxton and Hannah Diamond are currently the best-placed British crew in the new Nacra 17 multihull fleet. They’re fourth overall, with Pippa Wilson and John Gimson in sixth – the same position occupied by Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth after seven races in the new 49erFX class.
Nick Thompson will carry his 14th place through to the final series in the Laser fleet, while Tom Squires is the top British men’s windsurfer currently in 21st overall.
British Sailing Team website
Trofeo Princesa Sofia