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49th Trofeo Princesa Sofia Iberostar - Day 4

by Andi Robertson 5 Apr 2018 14:40 PDT 30 March - 7 April 2018
Mateo Majdalani and Eugenia Bosco (ARG) - Nacra 17 - 49th Trofeo Princesa Sofia Iberostar © Jesus Renedo / Sailing Energy / Trofeo Princesa Sofia IBEROSTAR

Sailors who have so far prevailed at the head of their classes with big leads at the 49th Trofeo Princesa Sofia Iberostar continued largely unchecked when winds on the Bay of Palma today dropped back from Wednesday's muscular 15-22 kts conditions to much more modest sea breezes and flatter seas.

Britain's Olympic champion Giles Scott in the Finn class, world champions Matt Belcher and Will Ryan in the 470 and the Netherlands' Annmiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz in the 49er FX all have now built themselves cushions of more than 20pts going into Friday's last day of Finals racing.

Given the depth and quality of the 470 and Finn fleets in particular it is quiet, solid consistency in what is almost inevitably a high scoring regatta, are what is paying the big dividend for Scott and for Belcher and Ryan.

At the top of the Finn fleet Scott counts no score outside the top ten and is 37pts clear of the Netherlands' Nick Heiner, while the Aussie 470 duo's tally is also made up of all top ten finishes ensuring they are 31pts ahead going into the Malloracan showcase regatta's penultimate day, Friday.

Heiner observed wryly, "Giles is annoying, he is always there. He sailed really well but he’s catchable. I just need to be as consistent as him and I still have two years to do that. We need to hurry up though."

Noting that Scott has not won a race here yet, Heiner adds, "I don’t think here you need to win races, especially in the first two days, if you can put down four top tens in the first two days that does the job. He has a pretty nice exit going into the last two days. But he is sailing really well…but he's catchable, hopefully. We’ll work on that."

It is altogether closer in the Laser class where the Kiwi-Aussie scrap is headlined by Australia's Matthew Wearns who narrowly leads both Rio Olympic silver and gold medallists, respectively New Zealand's Sam Meech and Australia's Tom Burton.

Wearns and Meech are on equal points and the fight look sets to go to the wire, Saturday. All three Rio medallists are in the top five in the Lasers.

A fascinating contest is developing in the Nacra 17. Their three races took place in the building sea breeze, more typical of Palma.

After 12 races the top two teams, Italy's series leading Tita Ruggero and Caterina Banti and GBR's world champion Ben Saxton sailing with stand in crew Nicola Boniface are well clear of third.

But the big movers today were Spain's Iker Martinez and Olha Maslivets, a partnership which was only first cemented here one year ago.

Spain's sailing hero, double Olympic medallist Martinez races for the Sofia co-host S'Arenal club and lives here where his children are at school.

He affirms that he and the former Ukranian RS:X four times Olympian are still very much on their learning curve together. And today their 2,2,3 was the perfect antidote to a 'catastrophic' Wednesday.

"Yesterday when it was windy it could have been a good learning day but in the end it was catastrophic. Because we misunderstood each other we had a capsize and damaged the mainsheet, the traveller, the boom and ended up breaking the mainsail. And then had two races out." Martinez reported, "So today was more like the first two days and we know how to set up the boat better for these kind of conditions with the rudders, the spreaders and other things. We just sailed the boat a little better."

He continues, "It is difficult to know where we are. The big unknown really is still foiling upwind and how we will be able to. Right now we know but we are not prepared to use it racing. I think it is a question of time. But when it happens it will change the whole game. Today during the last race I was thinking 'right, conditions are perfect we should go for it. And then I am thinking 'but it is the first regatta of the season. We need to get the best result we can.'"

Yesterday's rollercoaster is replaced by today's small successes. Martinez reflecting, "I always think this year is going to be a little easier, more relaxed but then every year it gets worse, more and more. I still enjoy it all, a lot. When things are not happening as you want it is hard, but it was like that twenty years ago when I started out!"

The 49er tussle sees GBR's world champions on top. Dylan Fletcher-Scott and Stu Bithell responded after a less than perfect Wednesday with a 6, 9 and a win in the last race.

Bithell, 2012 silver medallist commented today, “It was tricky today – there was a kind of sea breeze but not your classic Palma sea breeze, it was more unstable. There were some random things happening out there, but we managed to stay calm and keep making the right decisions. It was good to end on a bullet but the most important thing is that we made some changes after the first two races because we weren’t feeling that fast, and they worked. It was nice to be able to problem solve, it’s a good learning process."

Newly formed French duo Mathieu Frei and Noe Delpech have a combined 15 years in the 49er between them but the former roommates are still settling in to each other’s ways on the Mens skiff. A long winter of training with many other top 49ers in Vilamoura, Portugal is paying off, they say. Their counting scores of a first and second today takes them to second overall. And they would dearly like to head home to the World Cup events in Hyeres and Marseille from what they say is their 'favourite regatta of all' with a top three finish.

"We love it here, it is the best regatta to come to." quips Frei, " I am not allowed to say it's better than Hyeres. It is warmer than everywhere else in Europe and the wind is always fine.

"We have four other teams from France and we all sail together. With a lot of other teams we spent the winter in Vilamoura (Portugal) and we got much better. I think mainly our maneuvers got better because before then we did not know each other so well. And we had to forget a lot of the things me maybe did with our other crews. As a new team we need to sail alot. Here we want to make a top three which will be hard.

"We are based in Marseille and so we are now really looking forwards to Hyeres and Marseille because they feel like home to us."

Racing continues Friday with a new challenge set to develop as the forecast winds swing cross offshore before Saturday's finale, the Medal Races.

For more information and full results visit event website.

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