ISAF Sailing World Cup Palma 2013 has entered the medal race stage. Tomorrow, the top sailors in all classes will be sailing a new Medal Race format that could potentially be used at the Rio 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition.
The top 10 will compete in two Medal races (double points and non-discardable) to define the winner. In the 49er and 49erFX, the top eight will fight in four medal races. The races will be scored single points and will be non-discardable.
Races will be shortened across all the classes with the Laser, Radial, Men’s and Women’s 470 and Finns racing in 15 minute Medal Races, the Nacra 17 and Men’s and Women’s RS:X racing 10 minutes and the 49er and 49erFX approximately eight minutes.
With such few points separating the fleets it will be hard to predict who will be the overall victors and any attempt to sail a boat down the fleet could prove costly so the racing will be tight.
The Absolute winner of the Princess Sofia regatta trophy could well go to Australian pair of Mat Belcher and Will Ryan. They will start the Medal Race on zero points after winning four out of five races in the finals. The Greek team of Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis are in second position, 17 points behind the London Gold medallist and his new crew.
The racing strategy with this new format is not obvious but the Greeks have already worked it out, 'I think it is going to be very interesting as it is the first time this has happened. The first target is to win the first Medal Race if it is possible and then to stay close to our opponents. If this doesn’t happen then we have to chase them but the goal is always to win the Medal Race so we’ll go for the first win and then we’ll see,' confides Mantis.
Two teams have dominated the Women’s 470 with Brazilians Fernanda Oliveira and Ana Barbachan taking over the lead from Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh Mcintyre (GBR) after two race wins on the water today.
There are nine different countries in the Men’s and Women’s 470 fleets highlighting the competitiveness of all the nations sailing in the fleet this week.
World's number one Tom Burton, will start the Laser Medal Race as favourite after he moved into pole position. The day brought bad luck to Philip Buhl (GER) who placed 30th in the first race and was over the starting line in the second. The World's number two misses the Medal Races by one point.
In the Radial, Alison Young (GBR) is back in top place and she’s enjoyed the tight knit racing throughout the week, 'The different format has kept it close right till the end. It was a tough day out there for everyone today. I was pleased to be making good gains down wind, which bodes well for tomorrow. I am looking forward these two Medal Races,' explained Young.
Sarah Gunni (DEN) and Tatiana Drozdovskaya (BLR) are second and third in the Laser Radial.
Giles Scott (GBR) and Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) have an 18 point lead in the Finn class after a great day on the water for the Dutchman, 'Today I sailed very well in difficult conditions. I am very happy,' said Postma. 'And that result of today has much influence on how we go in to the Medal Race tomorrow. I'm in a good position. My biggest competitor tomorrow is Giles Scott. There are 40 points to win tomorrow. That is going to be terribly exciting.'
Class newcomers Josh Junior and Andrew Murdoch (NZL) are sixth and seventh in their first international Finn regatta. ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami winner Caleb Paine (USA) has just missed out on the Medal stage in 11th position.
Ricardo Santos (BRA) has positioned himself nicely behind Ivan Pastor (ESP) in the Men’s RS:X after two race wins today. Julien Bontemps (FRA) has nestled in nicely behind the top two with it all to play for on the final. Young Dutchman Kiran Badloe (NED) has climbed to fourth overall. It is the first Trofeo Sofia Mapfre for the 18 year old who started racing in the RS:X in 2009.
'Last year I did a few seniors events but this is the first year that I joined the big boys. They are all super nice and it is good fun,' said Badloe. 'My performance is improving. I made some mistakes but also did some things right. My strong point is strong winds. I have good speed. I must take advantage of that. Since December I have been training 11 days here and taking 10 days’ rest. We know the place very well. My objective is to compete in the Olympics, but first tomorrow my first Medal Race. It is going to be very exciting and I also look very much forward to it.'
Bryony Shaw (GBR) remains in top spot in the Women’s fleet with Moana Delle (GER) climbing to second after taking two bullets today. Blanca Manchon (ESP) keeps third place.
In the Nacra 17, the short 10 minute Medal Races promise to showcase more battles between Dutch and French teams who share the top four places.
Dutch front runner Renee Groeneveld explained her day, 'It was a good day, we had one bad start and finished 18th in that race, but the rest was good, in the third race we sailed better again and finished second. Everything is still possible in this fleet and we certainly aim for a medal tomorrow. The starts in the Nacra 17 are quite tricky and new for us. You really have to get it right.'
Erik Heil and Thomas Ploessel (GER) have increased their lead in the 49er fleet and are going into the final day as favourites.
'We won the first race but collected an OCS in the second. We are working well together and we have good speed. So that's make things easier,' they said.
The Germans have a 13 point lead which will not be enough to keep them safe in the four Medal Races. The top five can all technically win the event with all the races counting as single points.
Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (NZL) closed the gap on Ida Marie Baad Nielsen and Marie Thusgaard Olsen (DEN) to eight points in the 49erFX ahead of tomorrow’s Stadium Races. After a winter of training together the friends will become rivals on the last day to decide who takes the 49erFX honours.
Theatre style sailing is a new concept developed by the 49ers last year. Class Manager, Ben Remocker explains the concept, 'The 49er Class is testing theater style racing through the 2013 race year in order to see if it aligns with our goal of producing a worthy champion while entertaining sailing fans. We are having four Medal Races because they are short races and we want it to be a physical test. Eight boats, because that is a good number to be able to tell the story of the race.'
Racing is over in the 2.4 and Bjornar Erikstad from Norway has confirmed his dominance over the fleet. Erikstad who has competed in three Paralympic games has shown his experience this week.
Last Year, the Norwegian won bronze in Palma and goes two steps better this year to take the title left vacant by Thierry Schmitter (NED) who also claimed the absolute winners’ title last year.
ISAF Sailing World Cup Palma 2013
by Neus Jordi
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10:21 PM Fri 5 Apr 2013GMT
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