by Craig Heydon
On the second day of the Trofeo Princesa Sofia regatta, the Australian Sailing Team’s young crews have led the way in Palma, Spain, with Women’s Match Racers Olivia Price, Nina Curtis and Lucinda Whitty topping their group while Tom Burton has jumped into second in the Laser fleet.
Olivia Price and crew racing in Palma
Light winds again tested the sailors in Palma with another three Australian crews, 470 men Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page, 470 women Elise Rechichi and Belinda Stowell and Laser sailor Tom Slingsby, all ended the day inside the top ten of their respective classes.
After completing just two races on the opening day, Price, Curtis and Whitty had a busy day on Tuesday, winning five of their six races to leave them with a record of seven wins and just one loss, finishing first in their group and qualifying for the gold fleet.
'Today we had similar conditions to yesterday with a light sea breeze coming and going with a bit of chop around the course,' said skipper Price. 'We had six tough races of the round robin to finish today, with our scorecard today being five wins and one loss to Lucy Macgregor of Great Britain, making it seven-one overall.
'The racing was very competitive, and with such a subtle environment we had to continue to make decisions throughout all of our races,' she said. 'We had some close races including an exciting comeback against French sailor Claire Leroy where we were involved in tacking and gybing duals until the last run and we controlled the final gybes into the finish to take the win.'
The Australian trio will race in the gold fleet round robin on Wednesday to determine the seeding positions for the quarterfinals.
In the Laser fleet Tom Burton had two very strong races with a second and a first shooting him from his overnight 12th to second overall, just two points off the lead.
'I think the trick today was to get a good start and be able to hold your lane and go the way you wanted to go,' said Burton. 'In race one I got a good start and ended up winning the left hand side with fellow Aussie Ash Brunning, rounding the top mark in second with him in first. Then we had a close race between second, third and fourth swapping positions but I managed to finish second.
'In race two I held a really tight lane off the start line and was forced to tack out after a minute or two but held on long enough to get a lane going the right way. Then I picked a few shifts and had some nice straight line speed to be first at the top mark, extending from there to win by a few minutes,' he said. 'The plan for this regatta is to warm up for the upcoming World Championships as I haven’t sailed in a big regatta in a while and am trying to get back into the big starts and race management.'
Tom Slingsby ended the day 10th following a 21st and a fourth with the reigning Laser World Champion just nine points off fifth in a tight group of sailors.
Meanwhile Ashley Brunning is 27th, Ryan Palk 36th and Jared West is 92nd with one day of qualifying races remaining.
In the 470 men’s fleet Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page are fifth overall with just a handful of points separating the leading crews.
Belcher and Page finished day two with a seventh and a 10th, leaving the current World Champions and world number ones six points off the lead.
'Today was an ok day, not the best day of racing we’ve ever had but the results were quite good in difficult conditions,' said Belcher. 'We’re happy with how we’re racing in conditions that we just don’t get in Australia so it’s been great practice.
'We’re confident that we’re in the hunt and are improving every day,' he said. 'While these light, shifty, bumpy conditions aren’t what’s expected during the Games in Weymouth it’s providing a great opportunity to test our materials and prepare just in case.'
Fellow Australians Sam Kivell and Will Ryan are 14th overall with a sixth and a 22nd in Tuesday’s two races.
In the 470 women’s fleet Elise Rechichi and Belinda Stowell continued their strong start to the regatta, moving up from their day one 10th to be seventh overall, after a 17th and a race win.
The pair, competing in just their fourth regatta together, is improving with every race as they work towards the goal of competing at Rechichi’s second, and Stowell’s third, Olympic Games this August.
'Again today we were faced with tricky conditions and a big fleet, the same size as those we have at the World Championships,' said Stowell. 'We managed to win the second race of the day after a good battle with the French and Dutch so are feeling really good heading into day three of racing.'
Krystal Weir lost her day one lead in the Laser Radial fleet, dropping to 21st overall after being one of about 40 sailors in her fleet to go to the wrong mark and be scored as not finishing the opening race before crossing the line 19th in race two, while Caitlin Elks is 54th.
In the Finn class Brendan Casey is 22nd overall after a 32nd and a regatta best ninth on day two with mixed results for many of those around him on the leaderboard.
Trofeo Princesa Sofia Regatta website