Tom Burton (R) and Matthew Wearn (L) on Day 2 in Palma
The 44th Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mapfre, ISAF Sailing World Cup Palma regatta, saw the conclusion of the qualification series after three days of fantastic racing in varied conditions in the bay of Palma.
With many new faces on the scene, the class favourites have made sure they show their full potential in the first ISAF Sailing World Cup regatta on the European circuit in front of new rivals.
The Nacra 17 fleet raced in the afternoon with a medium breeze and small waves, it was a perfect day with great conditions and after six races countries with a strong multihull culture such as the Netherlands and France are on top.
Renee Groeneveld and Karel Begemann (NED) are leading the Nacra fleet with consistent results and have yet to win a race. Like many other teams it is the result of a successful mix of multihull and match-racing experience. Groeneveld at the helm said, 'I've come out of match racing so I'm really new to cat sailing so everything on the cat with the foils has meant we've done a lot of training here in Palma from December onwards.'
On their consistent performance in Palma Begemann explained, 'Yesterday we didn't have a bad day but we did have a few bad starts, so our focus today was to have some good starts. And the first two races today were pretty much perfect but in the last one we were a little bit unlucky with someone coming from over the line a little bit low and giving us some bad wind but we ended up fourth so it was okay.'
'The day went pretty well with three good solid races. We were at the front of the fleet for all three and we are pretty happy with the day,' added Groeneveld.
They are closely followed by the French teams of Moana Vaireaux and Manon Audinet and Billy Besson with Marie Riou on equal points.
Besson and Riou are setup like the Dutch with a multihull specialist and a former Olympic match racer. The pair won the first two races but were struck with some bad luck in the last of the day, 'Today was not so bad, we won two races,' said Besson. 'We broke the rudder so that's why we were not so good in the final race. But it was a really good day. Marie is a really good crew and is working hard on the boat.'
Sailing the multihull after an Olympic match racing campaign is a new challenge for Riou and one she's taking to with the help of the experienced multihull sailor Besson, 'I have a tough job with a lot of things to do - trim the mainsail and the spinnaker - but I've been learning a lot because before I was in match racing so it's new for me to sail the multihull. I have to learn a lot and I have a good teacher. He's a good protector and saved us from capsizing. The boat is really fast compared to the keelboat before. It's really fun and fast.'
To have a mixed event is also a new test in the Olympic sailing programme. After two Olympic campaigns in the Tornado class, Billy Besson appreciates sailing with a female crew, 'It's really nice sailing with Marie and she compliments the team. With all the men we had a lot of fights and we want to make it and now we have no fights and we just talk and make good decisions for a good race.'
For 49erFX sailors Ida Marie Baad Nielsen and Marie Thusgaard Olsen (DEN) and Alexandra Maloney with Molly Meech (NZL) training in New Zealand over the winter proved successful as they lead the fleet. Only a point separates both teams who have shared their progression in the 49erFX and they hold a clear advantage over the fleet with 20 points separating them and the Italians Giulia Conti and Francesca Clapcich in third place.
'We have sailed together in the 29er for the last two years,' explained Maloney after racing. 'We were lucky to have Ida and Marie over in New Zealand to train with us. We usually sail against the guys in the 49ers so it was good to have another FX team to train with. They are very fast and smart and they are used to large fleets.'
On what it will take for the Kiwis to overtake the Danes tomorrow Maloney added, 'We surely need to take better starts. Yesterday they were not so good, we are not used to large fleets in the skiff, but today was already a lot better.'
Stephen Morrison and Ben Rhodes (GBR) are one of five British teams in the lead tonight. Injuries and a long recovery for Rhodes have come to a positive end with outstanding results in the strong 49er fleet. 'I'm holding up all-right. It wasn't really the ease in that the physios had recommended! 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,' admits Rhodes.
Going into the final stages of the regatta, Morrison is taking a realistic approach of what lays ahead, 'Obviously the racing is 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. 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 Finn sailors were the first off the water, concluding their qualification series after six races. After fighting for top place with Jonathan Lobert (FRA), Giles Scott (GBR) has shown regularity on all conditions to take the lead in the 72 boat fleet. The 2011 European and World Champion is one point ahead of Vasilij Zbogar (SLO) and two points ahead from team mate Andrew Mills (GBR).
Philip Buhl (GER) has kept the lead in the Laser, distancing World #1 Tom Burton (AUS), now placed in fourth. Andy Maloney (NZL) has jump to second overall after taking two bullets in the last qualification races.
Alison Young showed her full potential in all weather conditions with a fifth victory and clean score and was only defeated in the last race today. Sarah Gunni (DEN) is second. Amélie Riou (FRA) who has consistently finished within the top three is placed third overall.
Olympic Men's 470 helms take the top two places with their new crews, Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS) hold first place and London 2012 silver medallist Luke Patience and Joe Glanfield (2004 and 2008 Silver medallist) have climbed to second ending the qualification series with a victory. Newly formed team of Pierre Leboucher (FRA) with his ex-coach, Nicolas Leberre (FRA), are proving their potential together in third place. However the day in the 470 was claimed by the young French team Sofian Bouvet and Jeremie Mion who won two races to climb the ladder to fifth overall.
Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh Mcintyre (GBR) conserve their lead in the Women's 470. Brazil's Fernanda Oliveira and Ana Barbachan improve their overall ranking to second after a victory and a third place.
The class favourites are in front in the RS:X with 2012 World Champion Julien Bontemps (FRA) on equal points with Toni Wilhelm (GER). Ivan Pastor is third and Ricardo Santos fourth. In the women's fleet ISAF Sailing World Cup winner Maayan Davidovich (ISR) conserved her lead over Flavia Tartaglini (ITA) and Bryony Shaw (GBR).
The Finals will start tomorrow for all classes with the exception of the 2.4mR who see tonight a new leader with Sailing World Cup Miami winner Megan Pascoe (GBR) who has not finished anywhere worse than second in a fleet of 23 boats.
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