Princess Sofia Regatta - Belcher and Ryan hungry for more
by Mat Belcher & Will Ryan | Olympic Sailing on 9 Apr 2014
At the Princess Sofia Regatta in Palma, Mallorca, a podium position leaves us satisfied but hungry for more in Hyeres. While this regatta marked the third Leg of the ISAF World Cup; it signifies the beginning of the European season for us and most other Olympic teams.
Princess Sofia Regatta, Palma 2014 Victor Kovalenko and Thom Touw
Although Palma delivered far from the infamous sea breezes we had expected; it provided a good test largely for patience with a lot of waiting - but also for our new boat 'Far and Away' who has lived up to expectations and now been fully initiated with some big waves and a full range of wind conditions, as well as a 'love-tap' or two :)
It was an interesting week with some challenging days conditions wise, with the fleets being postponed most days on shore and on the water as we waited for the winds to stabilise. For us our event started out slowly with some placings in the teens, but also a UFD (a newly introduced scoring penalty meaning over the start in the final minute - with no opportunity for an individual recall and thus no chance to return and restart).
Having therefore used our discard on Day one, and placing us overall results wise sitting in a somewhat unfamiliar 21st position, we had a bit of a delicate battle to manage pushing hard in the finals races to move up the rankings while being careful to avoid any more scoring penalties or big scores.
It was very positive that as a team we could quickly re-adjust and step up our level of racing to be back in contention after Day three, and leading into the penultimate day of racing. After a good battle with the Croatian team and consistent Argentinian team, we were still ahead going into the final race.
After a tough first lap we found ourselves in good company on the final downwind with both the Croatians and Argentinians as well as Beijing Medalist Nicolas Charbonnier and London Silver Medalist Luke Patience... however as the breeze began to shutdown and become extremely variable - ourselves and British team of Patience and Willis bobbed helplessly close to the final turning mark but could not hold off the approaching boats from behind who edged closer with the new pressure while the Croatians and Argentinians edged away to record top 10 positions. We placed 22nd, while the British placed 31st.
Following this final race as the top 10 entered the medal race the overall points held the Croatians potentially out of reach in first, while the Argentinians sat six points in front in second, and the Greek and Swedish teams tied in fourth place only six points behind us. After another delay waiting for the wind - we were met with a sticky six knots with left-over swell from the day before.
It was a tight race with numerous placing changes and some wind-holes in the course to keep it challenging, however the Croatians did enough to hold their lead, and Sime and Igor were rewarded with a well deserved win after a very consistent week. The Swedish had a great race moving them to equal points with us, but after the Argentinians were scored OCS. After what had been a long week of racing, we were happy to we were left with third place on a countback.
For us the next event will be the final leg of the ISAF World Cup in Hyeres, France which we will be looking forward too starting on April 22nd.
Today the new World Rankings were also released and it is again pleasing to see Team Aus11 in the top spot.
We will be looking to bring you a new level of insight from France, however for now it is a chance for a well earned rest! :)
Thank you always to our Coach Victor, and to all our sponsors, suppliers and supporters!
Mat and Will
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