by Craig Heydon
Trofeo SAR Princesa Sofia - Australian sailors will compete for medals in two classes on the final day of the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Palma, Spain, with Tom Slingsby holding a slender lead in the Laser class while Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page have a fight on their hands in the 470 class.
Slingsby (AUS) and Goodison (GBR) in Spain - Trofeo SAR Princesa Sofia
Slingsby went into the penultimate day of racing with a two point lead over Great Britain’s Paul Goodison and Nick Thompson. From Friday’s two races all three sailors had a strong race result and one they could have done without in the light, shifty conditions.
Friday’s results have set up an exciting final medal race with Slingsby just one point ahead of Goodison with Thompson one further adrift in third. The equation is simple for the trio, whoever wins the race will win the event.
'I had an up and down day today with a first and an 18th,' said Slingsby. 'The first race went really well with the right hand side working well for me and I rounded the top mark in third and slowly chipped away for the race win.'
'In race two I wanted to stay near my rivals but I made the mistake of starting a bit away from them in order to get off the line cleanly,' he said. 'My rivals went right and each time I tried my lane was taken. I ended up going left to try and get some clean air but the right side won by a long way.'
'I rounded way back in 30th and just tried to pick off as many as I could before the finish,' said Slingsby. 'Tomorrow will be interesting with just two points separating the top three, whoever wins out of us wins the regatta.'
In the 470 class Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page head into the final medal race in sixth position, and while they are just 12 points off a medal Page said that the race offers another opportunity to gain experience in medal race conditions against the top 10.
'We’ve just got to go out there tomorrow and sail our best,' said Page. 'Points wise we’ve got one boat ahead and one behind that are very close so we’ll be looking to get the best possible start and then assess the situation and see if we have the opportunity to influence them.'
The reigning World Champions had a better day than they did on Thursday, finishing the fleet races with an 11th and a 12th but still found themselves a little off the pace.
'Today was fractionally better but still not the best,' said Page. 'We’re a little down on speed at the moment, it feels like we’re sailing a 460, if they existed, while the others are just ahead.'
'We’re still finding ourselves in a good position but then bleed a spot here and there and suddenly you’re a long way back,' he said. 'Once we finish up here we head to France for the 470 Spring Cup and we’ll take the chance to do a bit of cross referencing of our equipment as we haven’t seen a lot of what we’ve been using here for months while it was being shipped from Australia.'
While Slingsby, Belcher and Page will race for medals on Saturday the regatta has finished for Australia’s other competitors.
In the Finn fleet Brendan Casey finished the week in 20th position following a 20th and a 34th in the final two fleet races.
Casey had some promising results in his first European regatta for the year with a race win and a number of top 10 finishes.
The regatta finished a couple of days earlier than planned for the two Australian Women’s Match Racing Team crews. Nicky Souter, Nina Curtis and Olivia Price finished the event 10th, while Katie Spithill, Jessica Eastwell and Lucinda Whitty were 14th.
The Australian Sailing Squad crew of Sam Kivell and Will Ryan finished the week 16th in the 470 class. The pair picked up a 22nd and a 14th on the final day of racing in Palma.
In the Laser class Squad member Ashley Brunning was 15th following a 24th and a 21st on Friday while Australian Sailing Team member Tom Burton worked his way up to 28th with a 26th and a 14th from the final two races.
Krystal Weir was 22nd in the Laser Radial fleet with some good results throughout the week including two thirds and four other races in the top 10.