The Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mapfre is the first European stage of the ISAF Sailing World Cup and is now all ready to set sail in Palma after an intense day of preparation and practice races.
Under a bright sun and blue skies, sailors added their last touches to their preparation, ready for a week of racing against the world's best. Last year’s winners are back to defend their title at the exception of Damien Seguin (FRA) in the 2.4.
After another World title in Perth and a win in the Rolex Miami OCR, Mat Belcher and Malcolm Page (AUS), leaders of the World rankings will be keen to get a shot at the title in Palma. The French teams of Leboucher/Garos, winners of the Olympic test event or last year winners Charbonnier/Mion along with the British teams will be providing tough competition.
The Spanish team of Tara Pacheco / Berta Betanzos are the hot favourite in the women 470 after winning the ISAF World's in Perth and the European championship last year. With all the top 470 women teams present in Palma, the World number one, will have to provide their best form to retain the Sofia Mapfre title.
After an extensive training in El Arenal, the British Finn squad is ready for their first regatta of the year with current World and European champion Giles Scott and last year winner, Ben Ainslie expected to perform well. Despite the absence of Ed Wright and Ivan Gaspic (CRO), top two on the ISAF world ranking, the level of competition will remain high with all class favourites on the starting line.
With 76 boats from 29 countries the 49er fleet will race qualifications series before the finals. Manu Dyen and Stéphane Christidis (FRA) are back to defend their title. The strong Danish teams with World Number Two, Allan Norregaard and Peter Lang, or the Alonso brothers, winners of the Andalusian Olympic Week in Cadiz, will be among the main threats forthe French.
With a successful year in the Laser class in 2011, Tom Slingsby(AUS) is coming into the third SWC event with a World Title and a SWC victory in Melbourne. He will face the Rolex Miami OCR champion, Paul Goodison(GBR) who will be keen to defend his title.
Despite the absence of the SWC standing leader, Ljia Wu (CHN) winner of the first two SWC events in Melbourne and Miami, the Laser radial competition will be fierce with all the classes favourites in Palma:Current World Champion Marit Bouwmeester (NED) or World Number One Evi van Acker (BEL), Sari Multala (FIN), Paige Railey (USA) or last year winner, SaraWinther (NZL).
Iain Percy is back! After withdrawing from the ISAF Worlds in Perth from back injury, the Olympic champion is back in the competition to fight for the title won last year in Palma with Andrew Simpson (GBR). Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada (BRA), winner of the Olympic test event and the ISAF Worlds have started the year in style winning the Miami OCR. They will be among the favourites with Rohart / Ponsot, winner of the Bacardi Cup or the German team of Robert Stanjek and Frithjof Kleen, second in Perth and Palma last year.
2011 Women Match Racing finalists are in Palma for another greatshow in front of the Cathedral!
Team Barkow (USA), Lehtinen (FIN), Tunnicliffe (USA) and Leroy (FRA) are back in force and will display their skills against a talented panel. So closed to the Olympic Games all teams are performing at their highest level.
In the 2.4, Paul Tingley (CAN), Thierry Schmitter (NED) or BritishMegan Pascoe and Helena Lucas will have a go at the title in the absence of last year winner Damien Seguin (FRA).
Racing is scheduled to start at 11am in the bay of Palma on Monday2nd of April.
Trofeo Princesa Sofia website
by Corinne Mckenzie
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6:20 PM Sun 1 Apr 2012GMT
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