by Lindsey Bell
On day one of the Trofeo SAR Princesa Sofia, light wind conditions gave rise to a delayed start in Palma for the World Cup regatta, but up and coming 470 women’s duo Sophie Weguelin and Sophie Ainsworth, 2.4mR sailor Helena Lucas and Nick Thompson in the Laser class took an early lead in their respective fleets when racing finally got underway on Monday (2 April).
Helena Lucas during the 43rd Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofia Mapfre
Weguelin, 23, and 22-year-old Ainsworth, who earned their first World Cup podium place at the Miami stage in January, continued their form on the opening day of this Princess Sofia Trophy, posting a third and a second from their two races in the women’s double-handed event.
'It was a great start to our regatta, and I think our best day’s sailing at a World Cup regatta which is fantastic and shows that the training we’ve been doing over the last few months is paying off,' enthused Ainsworth.
'But it is only day one and there so five more to do and hopefully we can carry on!'
'It was pretty busy on the racecourse today,' explained the 23-year-old helm Weguelin. 'We started as the boys rounded the leeward gate which made it a bit manic. It was very congested upwind and we ended up racing some of the boys at some point!'
The duo are training partners to the 2012-selected team of Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark – who fell foul of the racecourse congestion to sit in 20th after the first day – with Ainsworth feels is paying dividends.
'It seems like we have quite a good environment with Hannah and Saskia and our coach Joe [Glanfield] and hopefully we’re pushing them on as well as us pushing them on,' the 22-year-old explained.
Lucas took the advantage on the first day in the 2.4mR Paralympic class with a race win and a second. Beijing Paralympian Lucas, who described her opening race of the regatta, in which she led from start to finish, as ‘pretty cool’, admits she was made to work hard to claw back to second in race two.
'It looked like I was getting a good start but then things went a bit pear-shaped so I had to make up a bit on the first beat,' she explained.
'I had good speed so I pulled through to about fourth or fifth by the windward mark and then had a good run to pull up to second by the bottom mark so just hung in there until the finish.'
'It’s been a good start but there are still eight races to go so it will be a case of just taking each race at a time and keeping things simple. If in doubt – go fast!' Lucas concluded.
Skandia Team GBR’s Megan Pascoe picked up a 3,9 to sit in sixth overall after the first day.
Nick Thompson and Paul Goodison are placed first and third respectively in the Laser fleet after, while Andrew Mills is the top British sailor after day one in the Finn class. He’s in third overall thanks to a sixth and a race win, while Ben Ainslie had a steady start in his first competition back following back surgery, with 8,2 seeing him in fourth overall after day one.
The women’s match racing trio of Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor eventually completed two of their Group B round robin matches late in the day, posting victories against Finland’s Silja Lehtinen and USA’s Genny Tulloch, while Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign are the leading British boat in the 49er fleet in third overall with a 4,7,4 to show for their opening day. John Pink and Rick Peacock are poised in sixth, with Dave Evans and Ed Powys just outside of the top ten spots in 11th.
Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson mis-timed their start in the first race of the regatta for the Star keelboat class, pulling back to 17th after starting two minutes behind the fleet, but bounced back to a fourth in the second race to end the day in tenth overall, while Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell will hope for a better second day to improve on their 17,28.
Alison Young and Charlotte Dobson are 21st and 24th overall in the Laser Radial fleet.
Racing at the Palma World Cup regatta continues through until Saturday 7 April.