Sail-World.com : Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mapfre - Aussies on top form
Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mapfre - Aussies on top form
The fourth day of sailing at the Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mapfre, the third event on the Sailing World Cup circuit, has been dominated by light winds. However, all scheduled races have been completed providing sailors in Palma with a full racing programme.
Usually known for their strong wind skills, the Australians are performing well in the light conditions and are leading three classes. While Tom Burton is keeping a narrow lead in the strong Laser fleet from British Paul Goodison and Nick Thompson, the Australians have also claimed top positions in both 470 classes.
After winning the ISAF Worlds and the Rolex Miami OCR, Mat Belcher and Malcom Page (AUS) are now leading the score in the 470 men event in Palma. 'These conditions have been hard, we usually prefer to race in windier conditions.' explained Malcolm Page who also admits having aged by many years with the light and nerve raking conditions! 'We don't often have the chance to race in such light winds so these are good practice for us, especially with all the strong teams here!' added Mat Belcher.
One point further are the Israelians Kliger/Sela, with Calabrese/De la Fuente (ARG) in third.
Gold medal team of Elisa Rechichi and Belinda Stowell (AUS) are making fast improvement in the 470 women. The newly formed pair – they started sailing together five months ago – are leading the strong 470 women fleet in Palma, after placing 9th at the ISAF Worlds in Perth. Today they collected a disqualification at the start of race 7 along with 15 other teams but managed to pass the French team of Rol/Defrance by a single point in the overall rankings.
'It is disappointing to have collected a Black flag, but we were able to fight back with a second in the next race.' says Rechichi. 'We are still learning as a team and each of us bring different skills. It's great if we have a good result here but our main objective is to progress as a team.' adds Stowell. The Sydney Gold medallist is bringing her strong wind sailing skills to Rechichi who proved with a Gold medal in Beijing that she can master Palma light winds!
British Olympic champions are keeping the lead in the Star and the Finn.
Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson (GBR) keep an eight points lead in the Star over Brazilians Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada, while in the Finn, Ben Ainslie (GBR) is sailing away with two more bullets added to his already impressive score! Zach Railey (USA) and Daniel Birgmark (SWE) are conserving second and third position.
After a back surgery earlier this year, Ainslie seems to be back in top form, displaying his talent in the tricky conditions since the start of the week. He explains his recovery:
'It was a difficult period over the winter. We’ve been here training pretty hard, but the conditions funnily enough are quite different to what we’ve been training in and I think everyone’s finding it hard. For me it’s just great to be back racing again and you do realise there’s a huge difference between training with four or five boats and suddenly having 60 boats, a long start line, 1.3 mile beats and a big course so it’s very different and it's great for me to be back racing and getting my head into that.
The body is holding together very well actually but having said that it’s been pretty light winds so I wouldn’t have said it’s been the toughest physical test I’ve ever experience in my sailing career. But considering where I was two months ago, I couldn’t be happier to be here and to be racing and to be back on the programme, in tune and racing well. That’s a massive step for me and hopefully I can continue pushing forwards for the next four or five months.'
Alicia Cebrian is taking the first place in the Laser Radial from Marit Bouwmeester (NED) in second position and Evi van Acker (BEL) in third. 'There is such a good level here, so I am trying hard to do my best. This regatta is very important for the Spanish Radial team as we are in selection for the Olympic Games. There are still two more regattas to go so I need to keep working hard as the other two are very good.' explains Cebrian.
Sailors in the 49ers were divided in three groups for the final stage, with only 25 sailors acceding to the Gold fleet. Jonas Warrer and Soren Hansen (DEN) are conserving their lead ten points from British pair of Pink/Peacock and the Fench team of Dyen/Christidis, winner of the Palma event in 2011 and 2010.
The top three remain unchanged in the 2.4. with Thierry Schmitter (NED) adding two bullets to lead the 24 boats fleet by a comfortable margin.
The day was full on in the Club Nautica de Palma with the Women Match Racing competition. The quarter finals saw the victories of Leroy (FRA) against Macgregor (GBR) 3-0, Tunnicliffe defeated Skudina 3-0, Price (AUS) won against Mulder (NED) 3-1 and finally the last spot in the semi finals is going to Echegoyen (ESP) who defeated Team barkow 3 -1.
Friday will see the last chances for sailors to select for the Medal race and the semi finals in the Women Match-Racing.
Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mapfre website
by Corinne Rolland-McKenzie
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6:36 PM Thu 5 Apr 2012GMT
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