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To get to Marseilles first you have to go through Palma

by John Curnow / Australian Sailing Team 30 Mar 17:42 PDT 3-8 April 2023
Olivia Price and Evie Haseldine © Beau Outteridge / Australian Sailing Team

An armada of Australians is set to descend on Palma's famous Trofeo Princes Sofia Regatta, where the best Olympic Class sailors from around the world will lock horns to kick off the 2023 European summer season.

As there is only a little over 12 months until the Paris 2024 Olympics, the relevance and necessity of the event is even further heightened this year. All 10 of the Olympic Classes have representatives in Green and Gold.

Reflecting on how Australia is to be represented in Palma by both seasoned warriors and newer heads, Technical Director Michael Blackburn said, "I'm excited that we've got the full Aussie team in action in Palma.

"All have been working diligently over the summer, and it's been many months since the majority have raced against a full fleet, so they're eager to compete with the best. Fresh off a tough European Championship, the ILCA men and women are ready to learn from their experience and achieve more."

With all of that in mind, reigning Olympic Gold Medallist in the ILCA 7, Matt Wearn OAM, who placed third in the recent European Championship commented, "It's been really nice to get back in to racing over in Europe. The Euros was a good opportunity to shake the rust off, and I am keen to get stuck in to it in Palma. It always offers great racing."

After the Covid interrupted Tokyo 2020 campaign that became 2021, and then being mostly side-lined for 2022, Wearn is well aware of changes to the traditional quadrennial programme for Olympic sailors.

Reflecting on this, Wearn said, "It certainly feels like it has gone and come around very quickly. It's a bit hard to believe at times that the Games are only just over 12 months away, especially after missing most of last year due to illness.

"It hasn't come at a bad time for me though, considering the success from Tokyo, but I do feel for the younger guys and girls who have one less year to find their feet in the fleet."

The Western Australian athlete is looking to add a maiden World Championship later this year to his Olympic Gold.

"I am just looking to have a consistent and solid year at the top of the fleet, and to hopefully walk away from the Worlds this year a happy man."

Commenting on the size and nature of Australian Sailing Team, Australian Sailing Squad, and Australian Sailing Futures athletes in attendance, President of Australian Sailing, Alistair Murray AM said, "We're excited to have such a broad and talented young group representing us in Palma across all of the classes. It's a very important part of the runway through to 2024, and the experience that they all gain at Palma against the World's best cannot be overestimated in terms of its importance in their development of sailors."

Murray echoed the sentiments of many Australian sailing fans back home ahead of the regatta. "We all wish the team well, as too all the coaches and support staff that are there to assist them. I'm also sure that all interested parties from here at HQ to our club sailors are with them every tack and gybe along the way. We'll be following the regatta and the results with great interest."

For the Australian Sailing armada, the term 'action stations' is the only one that fits from here on into Paris 2024. In April there is the ever-popular regatta at Hyeres in France, then May is jam-packed with 470 European Championships, iQFOiL European Championships in Greece, and the Hempel World Cup Allianz Regatta.

This is ahead of the long-standing Kiel Week in Germany in June. July sees the Olympic Test Event stage on site in Marseille, and August has the Allianz World Championships in Holland for the Olympic Classes.

Racing in the Trofeo Princes Sofia Regatta in Palma is from April 3, and concludes with the medal races on April 8, 2023.

Visit the event website for full results.

Australian Sailing Team (AST), Australian Sailing Squad (ASS), Australian Sailing Futures (ASF) and Australian sailors at the Trofeo Princesa Sofia Regatta:

Men's ILCA 7 - 188 Entries
Matt Wearn (AST)
Ethan Mcaullay (ASS)
Zac Littlewood (ASS)
Luke Elliott (ASS)
Finn Alexander (ASS)
Stefan Elliott-Shircore (ASF)
Sam King (ASF)
Will Sargent (ASF)

Women's ILCA 6 - 112 Entries
Zoe Thomson (AST)
Mara Stransky (ASS)
Casey Imeneo (ASS)
Elyse Ainsworth (ASS)
Paige Caldecoat (ASF)
Sylvie Stannage (ASF)

Mixed 470 - 72 Entries
Nia Jerwood and Conor Nicholas (ASS)
Sophie Jackson and Angus Higgins (ASF)

Men's 49er - 101 Entries
Jim Colley and Shaun Connor (AST)
Tom Burton OAM and Max Paul (ASS)
Tom Needham and Joel Turner (ASS)
David Gilmour and Simon Hoffman (AUS)
Tom Cunich and Miles Davey (ASF)

Women's 49erFX - 64 Entries
Tess Lloyd and Dervla Duggan (ASS)
Olivia Price and Evie Haseldine (ASS)
Laura Harding and Annie Wilmot (ASS)

Mixed Nacra 17 - 53 Entries
Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin (AST)
Jake Liddell and Lucy Copeland (ASS)
Brin Liddell and Rhiannon Brown (ASF)
Archie Gargett and Sarah Hoffman (ASF)
Rueben and Rita Booth (AUS)

Men's iQFOiL - 138 Entries
Grae Morris (ASS)
Harry Joyner (ASS)
Stephen Allen (ASS)
Jack Marquardt (AUS)

Women's iQFOiL - 100 Entries
Samantha Costin (ASS)

Men's Formula Kite - 81 Entries
Hector Paturau (ASS)
Oscar Timm (ASF)

Women's Formula Kite - 53 Entries
Breiana Whitehead (AST)

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