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53rd Trofeo Princesa Sofía Mallorca by Iberostar - Day 3

by Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofía 3 Apr 11:04 PDT 1-6 April 2024
53 Trofeo Princesa Sofía Mallorca by Iberostar Day 3 © Sailing Energy / Trofeo Princesa Sofía

Pressure builds on Bay of Palma

Another sea breeze day kept the giant 53 Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mallorca by Iberostar rolling through a demanding schedule of races. Across the classes are some marked, understandable differences between the mindsets of those who are in the throes of an Olympic selection fight and those who have missed out on Marseille and are racing now liberated of the constant pressure.

The two leaders of the women's ILCA6 fleet are on either side of that divide. In first place Australian Mara Stransky is looking to this Sofía to tip Olympic selection in her favour ahead a talented group which has three Aussies in the top ten after today's first gold fleet races.

The 25-year-old Stransky who grew up on her family's catamaran and came to the ILCA 6 from offshore racing on multihulls, is aiming to clinch selection to her second consecutive Olympics after Tokyo where she finished 14th.

She shares the same points aggregate as GBR's 22-year-old Matilda Nicholls who believes she is sailing better after compatriot Hannaa Snellgrove was announced for Paris 2024.

"It was good to have a consistent day, there were no easy spots on the start line now we are in Gold fleet, a lot of people were up and down. I tried to keep it as simple as possible. We had long shifts and so it was important to be able to get in phase early." Recalled Stransky who is racing her third Sofía, "I have always done quite badly here but this time I have no letters on my scoreline. This is the final event to get the Olympic ticket and so it is very cool to have three of us fighting it out here in the top ten at the moment. So far it really depends on how we all go at this event, so it is good to be leading but we have a lot of gold fleet and a medal race to go. We have all been a squad for about six years and the fact our qualification process is so intense raises the level."

Nicholls smiled, "This is the first time I have ever been in a medal position at a senior event but this is just the first day of gold fleet racing. Our trials have just finished and I did not get selected, so this is really a no pressure event trying to do as well as I can. I am just aiming to be in the top 10 at the end as there is so much depth in this fleet, it is really brutal. I think I feel less pressure here without the trials looming over me all the time, I did not quite realise how much there was before. I have never done a trials before and did not realise subconsciously how much it was affecting me until it was over. I have been putting myself under a lot of pressure after the last year and a half and that is gone and I can look forwards."

Denmark's ILCA 6 World and Olympic Champion Anne Marie Rindom is poised in fourth with the second best aggregate score before discard.

A big wind shift just as the first gold fleet ILCA 7 race started left some of the top hopes with a lot of hard work to do to rescue a good finish. Among those was double Sofía winner Micky Beckett (GBR) who pulled a 12th out of the fire after rounding the first mark in 40th. His first double digit score of the regatta may be his discard but that throwout is much better than his nearest rivals. France's 2022 world champion Jean- Baptiste Bernaz is up to second.

Beckett stays on top

Beckett the Welsh wizard of Palma Bay recalled, "It seemed like I was playing catch up the whole day. To do that you have to be really opportunistic with your moments, you have to keep planning ahead to pass groups, thinking five minutes ahead 'what is going to happen? The group is gong to spread out, the passing lane is down the middle/left/right. I am a simple creature and tell myself not to panic and manage not to. These first beats are so, so incredibly tight, the first five boats get round the first mark and after that it is tough, it is amazing what two metres forwards or backwards does to you in this fleet!"

"Every metre is expensive in this fleet. It was so hard to be consistent and I managed. There is so far to go. This is my last Games and I am going for the 'no regrets' version pushing hard. Let's see if it works." Says the four times Olympian whose best was sixth in Rio and who grew up in Frejus 90 minutes east of Marseille.

Powerful, happy Tarnowski in pole position

A settled, super-happy home life which includes becoming a first time father recently are among the catalysts to a step up in performance of the Polish iQFOiL rider Pawel Tarnowski, the stand out event leader, who on his 30th birthday enjoyed a cake and candles from his team-mates before adding two more winning guns and a second to extend his margin. His season to date has been impressive, runner up at the iQFOiL worlds in Lanzarote and also second at last month's iQFOiL International Games in Cadiz.

"I feel my training is going in the right direction which is good because everyone is pushing, pushing so hard in this Olympic year. I have really been focusing on the positive outcome and that has not always been the case. I think I have started the season well. I feel strong here. All the training is paying off. And for sure as a new dad I feel super strong with a lot of motivation for my kid and my wife. She is doing all the hard work ashore and she makes it easier for me to focus on my goal, so full credit to her. It is great to be all together here and it motivates me." Enthuses Tarnowski who is five points up on Italy's Nicolò Renna.

Double bullet Swedes on top

After six qualifying races for the 470 Mixed event Sweden's Tokyo silver medallist Anton Dahlberg and Lovisa Karlsson are on top by a single point by virtue of two wins in the 10-13kts sea breeze conditions they seem to love.

Dalhberg, another four times Olympian and double European champion explains, "It's an important event for us, we want to perform here as we have some boxes to tick, we did not get the answers we wanted at the worlds (7th) so we really want to give it everything. After Hyères where I think we will see a smaller fleet, for us it will be all about being in Marseille learning all we can, we like the momentum we have right now and we try to build on that, we need to be better at many things but we have to look at what we can achieve and prioritise."

The pressure cooker German trials continue to be finely balanced here Malte and Anastaysia Winkel are in fourth one point ahead of Simon Diesch and Anna Markfort.

Olympic pressure, what pressure?

In the 49er Men's skiff none of the top four duos have selection concerns, indeed it is the re-formed Aussie partnership of Jack Ferguson and Max Paul - racing for fun - which still leads after a counting second place today ahead of the Uruguayan duo Hernan Umpierre Odini and Fernando Diz Becerra who have a place at Paris 2024.

Neither third placed US duo Andrew Mollerus and Ian Macdiarmid nor France's fourth placed Lucas Rual and Emile Amoros will be in Marseille, the Americans losing their trials regatta on the final race and the young French pair are, predictably, behind their recently crowned world champions who are not having a good regatta here.

In the FX women's skiff Norwegians Helene Naess and Marie Ronningen still lead, "We have sailed a very consistent regatta so far except for the last race which was our discard. We are doing both here and Hyeres and then go to Marseille for preparations for the Games which really are coming up fast." Enthused Naess whose compatriots Maya Gysler and Mina Mobekk hold first and second on the Women's iQFOiL

Pianosi matching Maeder

In the Formula Kite men's event Italy's Ricardo Pianosi is giving defending Palma champion Max Maeder a run for his money, both are tied on the same points after 12 qualifying heats whilst Daniella Moroz of the USA continues to dominate the women's kite event.

And in the Nacra 17 Italy's world and Olympic champions Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti, 2022 overall winners here moved up to second place with a 1,1,3 closing up ominously on Germany's Olympic bronze medallists Paul Kohlhoff and Alica Stuhlemme.

The 53 Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofía Mallorca by Iberostar is jointly organised by the Club Nàutic S'Arenal, the Club Marítimo San Antonio de la Playa, the Real Club Náutico de Palma, the Real Federación Española de Vela and the Federación Balear de Vela, with the support of World Sailing and the main Balearic public institutions.

More information, at www.trofeoprincesasofia.org.

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