April 2, 2012
Spanish Sailing World Cup ready to start
After another World title in Perth and a win in the Rolex Miami OCR, Mat Belcher and Malcolm Page (AUS), leaders of the World rankings will be keen to get a shot at the title in Palma. The French teams of Leboucher/Garos, winners of the Olympic test event or last year winners Charbonnier/Mion along with the British teams will be providing tough competition.
The Spanish team of Tara Pacheco / Berta Betanzos are the hot favourite in the women 470 after winning the ISAF World's in Perth and the European championship last year. With all the top 470 women teams present in Palma, the World number one, will have to provide their best form to retain the Sofia MAPFRE title.
After an extensive training in El Arenal, the British Finn squad is ready for their first regatta of the year with current World and European champion Giles Scott and last year winner, Ben Ainslie expected to perform well. Despite the absence of Ed Wright and Ivan Gaspic (CRO), top two on the ISAF world ranking, the level of competition will remain high with all class favourites on the starting line.
With 76 boats from 29 countries the 49er fleet will race qualifications series before the finals. Manu Dyen and Stéphane Christidis (FRA) are back to defend their title. The strong Danish teams with World #2, Allan Norregaard and Peter Lang, or the Alonso brothers, winners of the Andalusian Olympic Week in Cadiz, will be among the main threats for the French.
With a successful year in the Laser class in 2011, Tom Slingsby (AUS) is coming into the third SWC event with a World Title and a SWC victory in Melbourne. He will face the Rolex Miami OCR champion, Paul Goodison (GBR) who will be keen to defend his title.
Despite the absence of the SWC standing leader, Ljia Wu (CHN) winner of the first two SWC events in Melbourne and Miami, the Laser radial competition will be fierce with all the classes favourites in Palma: Current World Champion Marit Bouwmeester (NED) or World #1 Evi van Acker (BEL), Sari Multala (FIN), Paige Railey (USA) or last year winner, Sara Winther (NZL).
Iain Percy is back! After withdrawing from the ISAF Worlds in Perth from back injury, the Olympic champion is back in the competition to fight for the title won last year in Palma with Andrew Simpson (GBR). Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada (BRA), winner of the Olympic test event and the ISAF Worlds have started the year in style winning the Miami OCR. They will be among the favourites with Rohart / Ponsot, winner of the Bacardi Cup or the German team of Robert Stanjek and Frithjof Kleen, second in Perth and Palma last year.
2011 Women Match Racing finalists are in Palma for another great show in front of the Cathedral!
Team Barkow (USA), Lehtinen (FIN), Tunnicliffe (USA) and Leroy (FRA) are back in force and will display their skills against a talented panel. So closed to the Olympic Games all teams are performing at their highest level.
In the 2.4, Paul Tingley (CAN), Thierry Schmitter (NED) or British Megan Pascoe and Helena Lucas will have a go at the title in the absence of last year winner Damien Seguin (FRA).
Racing is scheduled to start at 11am on the bay of Palma on Monday 2nd of April.
April 2, 2012
Sunshine And Light Breeze On Opening Day In Palma
Sunshine and light breeze provided for gentle but technical sailing for all classes engaged in the 43rd Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofa MAPFRE, the third of seven ISAF Sailing World Cup Regattas.
Sailing from the Club Real de Palma, the Stars with all favourites on the starting line had a high level of competition. Xavier Rohart and Pierre-Alexis Ponsot (FRA) took the first race and placed seventh in the last to take the lead on equal points with Hamish Pepper and Jim Turner (NZL). Mateusz Kuznierewicz and Dominik Zycki (POL) took the last race to place third overall.
The Australians had a great start in the Men's 470 with World #1 Mat Belcher and Malcolm Page, and Sam Kivell with Will Ryan; both teams winning their group first race. However, it is the French pair of Pierre Leboucher and Vincent Garos, second last year in Palma who take the lead with a fifth place and a victory.
"We had a bad start in the first race but came back to the front; the second was better and it is a very good day in the championship. For us this event is important to test the material. Of course we would like to win here but first of all we need to sail well," said the French pair.
The French, selected for the Olympic Games are just a point ahead of World Champions Mat Belcher and Malcolm Page (AUS), "We had light winds today so considering the conditions we are happy and lucky with our results. It is our first event in Europe so it is good to gauge ourselves with the others, but we need to focus on our sailing."
After a third place at US SAILING's Rolex Miami OCR earlier this year, the young British team of Sophie Weguelin and Sophie Ainsworth are leading the Women's 470 fleet with a third and a second place. "This is by far our best day in any international 470 event. We had a great training this year with Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark, we learned a lot from them. This s a great start to our regatta but there are still many races to go."
The light conditions penalised some favourites with World Champions Tara Pacheco and Berta Betanzos placing 27th and Lisa Westerhof and Lobke Berkhout (NED) in 28th.
The light conditions in the first Laser race provided good opportunities for class outsiders to take a good start in the event. Andrew Lewis (TRI) won the first race. David Alfonso from Puerto Rico placed second and Dennis van den Berg (AHO) third, in their respective groups. At the end of the day, consistent results placed Jonasz Stelmaszyk (POL) in top place followed by Britain's Nick Thompson and Paul Goodison.
In the Radial, Krystal Weir (AUS) is leading after winning the first race and placing fourth in the second. The Australian is only a point ahead of Alicia Cebrian (ESP), the highest placed Spanish sailor on the water today. Third place goes to Cecilia Sarol from Argentina on equal points with Finland's Tuula Tenkanen.
Two Danish teams are leading the 49ers, with Peter Kruger Andersen and Nicola Thorsell one point ahead of team mates Jonas Warrer and Soren Hansen. They both won the last race in their group.
Another Dane is in the lead in the Finn class. Jonas Hoegh-Christensen won the first race and finished fifth in the second placing him on equal points with Sweden's Daniel Birgmark.
"I had a good start on winward and rounded the top mark in second place behind Daniel Birgmark," said Hogh-Christensen, "In the first run, all the guys in front gybed and got in a hole with less pressure, I stayed on their right and increased my lead. On the second race I had an average start but gained lots of places on the run." Andrew Mills (GBR) is in third and last year's winner Ben Ainslie is fourth.
The 2.4 Paralympic event, sailing out of Calanova, sailed two races. Britain's Helena Lucas showed good form with a win and a second place to take an early lead. "It's been a good start but there are still eight races to go so it will be a case of just taking each race at a time and keeping things simple. If in doubt - go fast!"
Racing will resume on Tuesday for all classes.
ISAF Sailing World Cup Website
Trofeo S.A.R. Princess Sofia MAPFRE Website
Last edited by mpowlison; 04-03-2012 at 10:06 AM.
April 3, 2012
Olympic Qualification Battles Add Spice To Trofeo S.A.R. Princess Sofia MAPFRE
A number of key London 2012 Olympic qualification battles is adding an extra spice in the life of sailors at the 2012 Trofeo S.A.R. Princess Sofia MAPFRE, the third of seven ISAF Sailing World Cup Regattas.
A southerly breeze at 7 knots which built to 10 towards the middle of the afternoon made racing tricky, but in the Women's 470 fleet day one leaders Sophie Weguelin and Sophie Ainsworth kept their lead and hold a narrow advantage over Poland's Agnieszka Skrzypulec and Jolanta Ogar.
The Polish girls are aiming for London 2012 and if they continue like they are, they may spring a surprise, "We are very happy with our form here," they said, "our objective is to finish in the top ten and we have to maintain this level. This is important for our Olympic selection even if we still have to qualify the country in the next World's."
Emmanuelle Rol and Hélène Defrance (FRA), aiming for the French Women's 470 spot, stay in third after winning the first race and collecting big points in the second. Australian pair Elise Rechichi and Belinda Stowell took the second bullet to place seventh overall.
World #5, David Evans and Edward Powys (GBR) added two more bullets to their score to take the lead in the 49er class, "Our objective is to be top 3 and first British. Racing was tricky today with different pressure over the course so we are happy with our results so far." They are on equal points with Danish Jonas Warrer and Soren Hansen.
Early leader Peter Krüger Andersen and Nicolai Thorsell (DEN) suffered from the day's difficult conditions to fall from first to 15th.
For both top teams these results mean a lot as Palma is playing a role in their Olympic selection. The Trofeo S.A.R. Princess Sofia MAPFRE is one of a series of observation events for the British but for the Danes, good results could mean a ticket for London.
"This regatta is very important for us," commented Jonas Warrer and Soren Hansen, "If we keep sailing like that we have a good chance to be selected for the Games. Today we had good racing especially in the last two races. Good start and speed. We need to keep sailing like that until the end."
Ben Ainslie (GBR) has taken the lead in the Finn class after a near perfect day with a victory and a second place. Happy about his results, the Olympic champion explained, "The day couldn't have gone better but it was hard work out there. The weather was tricky with different pressures. This is not the expected Palma conditions." Daniel Birgmark (SWE) is second overall in front of early leader Jonas Hogh-Christensen (DEN) in third.
The 2.4 were the first class to finish racing. After four races Thierry Schmitter (NED) is the new leader after winning Race 3 and placing third in the second race of the day, won by Bjornar Erikstad (NOR).
"We had very light conditions for the second day in a row. But steady enough to have fair racing in the 2.4mR. After winning the Trofeo three times, the only objective is to win it a fourth time. But in an Olympic year, the competition is at its best, so it will be very hard this year to win it again," explained Schmitter.
Hamish Pepper and Jim Turner (NZL) have taken the lead in the Star class. After a difficult day on the water, early leaders Xavier Rohart and Pierre Alexis Ponsot (FRA) and the Polish Matieusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki drop out of the top ten. Races went to Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson (GBR) and Austrians Hans Spitzauer and Gerd Habermüller.
The Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mapfre is the first event for Percy and Simpson since the ISAF Worlds where they had to abandon due to Percy's back problems. "We started the week pretty badly," explained Percy. "In our first race yesterday we decided the five minute gun was the ten minute, and the ten minute was five - basically just complete confusion... In the rest of the races we've had some ups and downs, but some reasonably solid races. It's very shifty and difficult wind."
Pierre Leboucher and Vincent Garos (FRA) continue to hold top position in the Men's 470, but the day belonged to Gideon Kliger and Eran Sela (ISR) who had a perfect day with two bullets to climb to fifth place. They are only five points from the leaders. Alvaro Marinho and Miguel Nunes (POR) are in second place, one point ahead of Greece's Panagiotis Kampouridis and Efstathios Papadopoulos.
After narrowly missing out on a medal at the ISAF Worlds in Perth, Simon Grotelueschen (GER) is back in good form taking the lead of the Laser event in Palma. Australian Tom Burton takes second place overall after placing second and winning a race. European Champion Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) makes the most of the day by taking two bullets and climbing to 9th position.
Racing in the Laser radial saw some upsets today. During the first race of the Yellow group, the race was shortened but about 40 sailors went to the wrong mark. As a result, only six sailors completed the race while the rest collected a disqualification. Current World Champion Marit Bouwmeester (NED) is in the lead after a good day where she placed third and first. Alicia Cebrian (ESP) conserves her second place after racing consistently.
At the Yacht Club de Palma, the Women match racing are continuing racing in order to complete their round robin and are not expected to finish until late in the day.
April 4, 2012
Sun, Shifts And Surprising Packages
After three days of racing at the Trofeo S.A.R. Princess Sofia MAPFRE the qualification stage is over for classes sailing in groups and tomorrow will see the best of the best going for glory in the gold fleet.
The Lasers, 470 and 49ers will be split on Thursday in Gold and Silver fleets with a Bronze fleet only for Lasers and 49ers.
With racing on schedule, all classes are discarding their worst result tonight creating some surprise changes in the leader board. Many of the usual suspects are still in contention but at the close of play a few surprise packages are leading the way with only Ben Ainslie (GBR) in the Finn, Marit Bouwmeester (NED) in the Laser Radial and Thierry Schmitter (NED) in the 2.4mR conserving their lead after winning a race each on the third day.
The Men's and Women's 470 have new leaders with Croatia's Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic, third at the ISAF Worlds in Perth, climbing from third to first in the Men's fleet. World Champions Mat Belcher and Malcolm Page (AUS) are second overall after scoring similar results.
The Croatians said, "Another great day like yesterday, we used similar tactics both yesterday and today, we were very tough and precise on the start, which enabled us to have a good opening in both today's races. The left side of the course was the favourable one in both races so with good speed and good sailing we managed to reach the left side. We were among the leading boats from the first mark. A third and a second place in these difficult conditions is a very good result."
In the Women's 470, Emmanuelle Rol and Hélène Defrance (FRA) have improved their position steadily over the week to take the yellow jersey on the third day. The French pair, aiming for Olympic selection, said, "The conditions are very hard here with lots of good teams, tricky winds and short steep waves. We are bringing special attention to our starts. These are our favoured conditions but the hardest part is still to come: finish the regatta with the pressure to be in first place. So we will keep taking one day at a time and concentrate on our sailing."
Australia's Tom Burton holds the lead in the Laser over Nick Thompson (AUS) and Charley Buckingham (USA). In seventh position is Juan Ignacio Maegli from Guatemala. He qualified his country for the Olympic Games in Perth and is following the family tradition after his father participated in three consecutive Olympic Games from 1976 to 1984 in the Finn. Maegli explains his good results, "The regatta has been going pretty well, I've been getting good and consistent results but the conditions have made the races very tricky and tough. I am looking forward to Gold fleet racing tomorrow and hopefully I can keep up the good form."
Jonas Warrer and Soren Hansen (DEN) have taken the lead in the 49er fleet from David Evans and Edward Powys (GBR), now in third place, one point behind John Pink and Rick Peacock (GBR). The 49ers will be split in three groups tomorrow with the top 25 moving into the Gold fleet.
In the Laser Radial, Race 3 for the Yellow group was re-sailed following a request for redress lodged yesterday by a large number of sailors against the race committee. Then it was back to normal business with new groups formed for Race 5 and 6. Bouwmeester continues to lead whilst Evi van Acker (BEL) takes second place after discarding her 15th place finish. Alicia Cebrian (ESP) is third with a consistent series of top five results.
Ben Ainslie further strengthened his Olympic favourite title as he ends the day 11 points ahead of Daniel Birgmark (SWE) after placing second to Zach Railey (USA) in Race 5 and winning the last.
"It was a very difficult day today," said Ainslie. "The wind was quite light this morning and changing a lot so it was very hard to read and there were lots of ups and downs in the fleet but for me I had a good day."
With a race win, Railey moves up to third overall, "It has been a very difficult event so far, taking decisions on the water have not been easy but I am sticking to my choices and on the second race, even if I missed the shift on the left, I was able to come back and pass twenty boats. I am happy with the way I am going, confidence is the key."
An interesting battle is also developing in the Star class with just two points separating Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson (GBR) and Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada (BRA) at the top of the tree. The British 2008 Olympic gold medallists lead the way and with four fleet races and the Medal Race remaining it will be interesting to watch how their fight develops.
And in the 2.4, Thierry Schmitter is comforting his lead with two bullets added to his score.
The third day of the Women's Match Racing Competition proved to be a big day for the six teams in the Repechage - only two would advance to the Quarter Finals, the other four go home. The racing was very close with Ekaterina Skudina (RUS) winning the round with 4 wins and only one loss. The next three teams were tied with 3 wins and 2 losses and only one would advance. After digging deep in the rule book the tie was broken in favor of Claire Leroy (FRA) with Renee Groeneveld (NED) and Silja Lehtinen (FIN) losing out. Skudina and Leroy advance to the Quarter Finals and will face the top two from the Gold Group.
In the Gold Group, Lucy Macgregor (GBR) leads the way with an undefeated score of 3 wins and no losses. Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) and Tamara Echegoyen (ESP) follow closely with 2 wins each. The Gold Group will finish their round robin in the morning and the seeding for the Quarter Finals will be complete.
Racing begins at 10:00 tomorrow with the remainder of the Gold Group followed by the Quarter Finals.
April 5, 2012
Australians take the day
Sailing at the Trofeo Princesa Sofia MAPFRE, third event on the Sailing World Cup circuit, have 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 to 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.