by Daniel Smith
The 45th Trofeo Princesa Sofia marks the one year anniversary for the Nacra 17 duo of Iker Martinez and Tara Pacheco (ESP).
Martinez and Pacheco gear up for Sailing World Cup Mallorca.
The Spanish sailors commenced their Rio 2016 campaign at the 2013 edition of the regatta and the experienced pair have seen a noticeable improvement over the last 12 months.
'An intense year full of surprises,' explained Martinez, 'but if after twelve months we continue with the project, this means things are moving forward.'
Pacheco added, 'After sailing together for one year we know we can be among the top places, but to be there we must put a lot of effort and train every day both afloat and ashore.'
The pair finished 18th at the 2013 ISAF Sailing World Cup Mallorca and steadily improved as the year unfolded. An 18th followed at the 2013 ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyeres before they won their first regatta together in Kiel, Germany.
A 25th at the Nacra 17 Worlds and a 10th at the Europeans followed before they made a strong impression at the start of 2014.
Martinez and Pacheco narrowly missed out on their first ISAF Sailing World Cup podium in Miami have lost out in the Medal Race against World number one Ben Saxton and Hannah Diamond (GBR) on the final day in the USA.
Saxton and Diamond kept the Spaniards behind them in Medal Race and the Brits took the final podium spot having finished a place ahead. With this on their mind Martinez has one eye on the podium, 'In Mallorca, if we finish among the top five it would be incredible and among the top ten it would be good. These twelve months of adaptation have gone by very fast. We have been able to start sailing with certain consistency and without major weak points recently. The time has come to consolidate all the work done and if we do well, we can take a step forward and think about being on the podium.'
A strong 74-boat Nacra 17 fleet will take to the Mallorca race course on 31 March through to 5 April. Whilst World Cup honours are the immediate mind-set, the Santander 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships are on the horizon and Martinez realises the significance of the year, 'It is a very important season. The real goal for this year is that we can assure we can be competitive in the future, but at the end results are important and we need to finish among the top ten, also a podium every now and then to feel good and finish among the top ten at the Worlds to be able to classify Spain for the Olympic Games.'
Ten Rio 2016 Olympic spots are up for grabs in Santander and Pacheco was slightly more abrupt explaining the teams priorities, 'This season it is very clear that our goal is no other than the Santander 2014 Worlds.'
Martinez and Pacheco are one of six Spanish Nacra 17 crews competing in Mallorca so as well as international battles there may be a few internal tactics coming into play when racing commences at 11:00 on Monday 31 April.