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Good, reliable easter sea-breezes on the Bay of Palma allowed rapid progress to be made through an ambitious roster of Medal deciding contests as the record-sized 52 Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mallorca Iberostar regatta reached a thrilling conclusion. 

Only the ILCA 6 and ILCA 7, Women’s and Men’s gold medals were pre-ordained, Marit Bouwmeester of Holland and Britain’s Micky Beckett clinching the top awards on Friday before today’s medal races.

As Afloat previously reported, unfortunately, Ireland had no part in this year's medal races in Mallorca.

Great Britain racked up an impressive haul of six medals, four gold and two silver, across the ten Olympic classes which will feature at next summer's Paris Olympics, the top award for the Mallorcan showcase regatta went to the 16-year-old Singaporean Maximilian Mader – 2022 world championship runner up – who won the Men’s Formula Kite class.

After a string of eight wins in the preliminary and Finals series, he won the Medal Final to become only the second Asian sailor to win the giant regatta’s absolute top award after China’s Yue Ten dominated the RS:x Class in 2019.

Maeder’s trophy triumph no doubt reflects his outstanding skills, the depth of competition and the truly international entry in this young, dynamic new Olympic class which will debut in the Olympic arena in Marseille next summer.

The 16-year-old trains with a sparring partner in Croatia and is making a big impression on the sport:“I came here just wanting to shake off the winter rust and get into the season.” said Maeder, “ I came here trying to perform my best. I always like to win but to come here with that at the front of your mind all the time, in my experience does not help you perform best. This is my first regatta of the year which I don’t think helped. I came straight from Croatia where I train with my sparring partner in Pula in the Spring and during the summer we train out of Split. It works well for me and they have such great conditions. We work together, it is efficient, there is not too much clutter and noise and we push each other. Your tactics look brilliant when you are fast. Ask the others but I think there are other guys who have an edge in speed but somehow I get the right side of the course and I have some little tricks which help me I guess.”

There were elements of sweet revenge for the Women’s Formula Kite winner and for the Palma title victor in the Men’s iQFoiL. Both France’s Lauriane Nolot and Britain’s Sam Sills had ghosts to lay to rest on the shimmering Bay of Palma today.

Nolot, from the French Mediterranean kiting hotspot of Hyeres, led to the final gybe last year of the Grand Final last year but fluffed the transition and let the USA’s Daniela Moroz through to win. Nolot was on impeccable form today and made no mistakes,

“I was leading again this time. I was thinking about it when I was going into it, thinking ‘come on don’t make it twice’ and my gybe this time was insane.” enthused Nolot who talked about the mental pressure on the series leader who comes in cold to sail only the big finale,

“I was trying to stay chilled. When it is so stressful that is easier said than done but I just focus on my foil, the feeling on the kite and the foil and don’t think too much about emotions. My plan was drawn out in my head and it was just like follow it a to b to c. I was always trying to just sail clean and do good things, even this week when I was not winning races. When were in Miami training it was only light winds which was good for me this week as it has been mainly 10-12kts. My winter training was good. Now this is a very important win as our selection committee are watching to select for the Test regatta.”

Cornwall bred naval architect and green tech specialist Sills also led in the early stages here last year but more recently led both the iQFOiL events in Lanzarote in January and February but they ran way from him. Today he held his nerve, despite the severe pressure heaped on the winner of the Finals series who goes direct to the final. He left Germany’s current world champion Sebastian Koerdel to second.

Sills acknowledged, “I am a lot better prepared this year and am full time sailing which I was not last year, so I am full time with the British Sailing Team which is great because there is so much support and knowledge and that has really helped. We have more data now – all secret of course – but things to work off which are important. I went out on the water first today and that let me see all the other competing and I had a good feel for it. In Lanzarote my starts went wrong but now I think I have solved that. Really this win is a big deal for me, a mark on the career and a step towards the Olympics I hope.”

RS:X bronze medallist Emma Wilson, who turned 24 yesterday, gave Britain the double victory in the women’s iQFOiL. She has been racing here for ten years previously in the RS:X Class.

Wilson grinned, “With the format as it is there is so much mental pressure but I was just saying to myself I know I am fast just get a good start and use my speed. I love these conditions and I love Palma I feel very at home here. It is such a mental game, 95% of it for sure on the last day. I had a big reset in February when I had an operation on my arm. I just said to myself I had to give it 100% and just make sure everything is right. I have a good team around me including my Mum (ed note Penny Wilson 2 x windsurfing Olympian). I worked so hard on my fitness. I have been here in Palma for six weeks. We have had these conditions just about every day.”

Gimson and Burnet do an Italian Job?

A second place in the Medal Race was good enough for Tokypo silver winners Jon Gimson and Anna Burnet, snatch Nacra 17 gold from their Italian training partners, Vittorio Bissaro and Maelle Frascari (ITA). It’s really nice to actually win one here, because we’ve been either second or third in Palma five times.” said Gimson. It was also an important psychological boost to come out ahead of the three Italian teams with whom the British have been training in Sardinia over the winter. Bissaro and Frascari took silver ahead of Gianluigi Ugolini and Maria Giubilei (ITA) in bronze.

Pre-event few people would have predicted that Italy’s all-conquering duo of recent times, reigning Olympic and World Champions, last year’s winners here Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti might be out of the medals in Palma but they could only manage fourth. But Gimson cautioned “This feels like the first light-wind regatta we’ve had for a while, and their real strength is in foiling conditions.”

Kiwi Aus 49er Rivalries Rekindled?

Logan Dunning Beck and Oscar Gunn overtook their New Zealand teammates for the gold medal in the 49er class. “The weather has been amazing for the whole trip,” said Gunn. “It was a tough first day but we just kept at it and managed to climb back up the rankings to have a shot at the gold when we went into the Medal Race. So it’s really good to come away with the win.” The Laser Olympic Champion from Rio 2016, Tom Burton, shows signs of becoming world-class in the very different 49er skiff. Burton and his crew Max Paul (AUS) took the silver medal ahead of the yellow bib wearers who slipped to bronze medal, Isaac McHardie and William McKenzie (AUS). Apart from the Polish team in fourth place, the top five spots were filled by Australasian crews, something that hasn’t been seen in a while in the 49er skiff. “It’s probably coincidence that the Kiwis and Aussies have done well here,” said Beck, “because we haven’t done much training with them in recent years. But it’s good to see, and it reminds me of the days when Outteridge and Jensen (AUS) and Burling and Tuke (NZL) were fighting it out at the top of the fleet. It’s nice to think we could get back to that again.”

Brazilians shine in the FX, Japan in the 470

Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze took the 49erFX gold medal in fine style. The double Olympic Champions from Brazil sealed the overall win with a sweet victory in the Medal Race. “I think we made really good decisions this week,” said Grael. “And we really enjoyed the sailing, which I think is the most important thing. But at the same time it was light breeze and we had some very tiring days on the water. That Medal Race was really intense! I have a lot of respect for the other girls and the way they sailed. It was a super close finish.” Reigning World Champions Odile van Aanholt & Annette Duetz (NED) managed to win silver on tiebreak against the rapidly improving team from Argentina, Maria Sol and Cecilia Carranza (ARG).

Although Keiji Okada and Miho Yoshioka (JPN) struggled in the Medal Race, their points gap from the Gold Fleet racing was sufficient for the Japanese to win the 470 Mixed gold medal. “We had very different conditions this week,” said Okada. “So I’m very happy to win. Palma is such a beautiful place and we have enjoyed out time here. Now we keep pushing, keep training and on to the next races in Europe.” Winning the Medal Race was good enough for reigning World Champions Luise Wanser & Philipp Autenrieth (GER) to rise to silver medal position, knocking down last year’s Palma winners, Jordi Xammar and Nora Brugman (ESP), to the bronze medal.

In the ILCA 6, the silver and bronze medallists were Australia’s Zoe Thomson and Bouwmeester’s Dutch team mate Maxime Jonker respectively. While Britain’s Beckett is the only sailor to retain a title won here last year, his conclusive win left New Zealand’s George Gautrey to silver and Croatia’s Tonci Stipanovic bronze.

The 52 Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mallorca Iberostar is the first of the four Sailing World Cup Events of 2023. At 16 months before the opening of the 2024 Paris Olympics it attracted a record entry of 976 teams and 1259 sailors from 66 countries (503 women, 760 men) in ten Olympic classes + ORC and OD classes who competed the previous weekend

The huge event was contested over six days of racing on 8 racing areas and is managed between the three yacht clubs. This week saw winds from 5kts to one day of the pure Embat sea breeze which reached 20 kts on Wednesday.

The next 2023 WSC event - French Olympic Week, Hyeres (22-29 April).

Results here

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Irish Olympic ILCA 6 and 7 campaigners for Paris 2024 will be hoping for a consistent Wednesday at Mallorca’s giant 52nd Trofeo Princesa Sofia to get back on track in the all-important qualifying series.

The National Yacht Club's top-ranked Finn Lynch had a 19th result in his opening ILCA7 race but suffered a U flag penalty for early-starting in race two. He is currently lying 124th in a 184-boat fleet.

Lynch's rival for Paris 2024, Ewan McMahon (Howth Yacht Club), rounded off a solid day with a 14th and 12th place to lie 31st, according to official results here.

McMahon's younger brother Jamie lies 142nd.

Jamie McMahon (Howth Yacht Club) in the thick of it on the first day of the  giant 52nd Trofeo Princesa Sofia in Mallorca Photo: Sailing EnergyJamie McMahon (Howth Yacht Club) in the thick of it on the first day of the  giant 52nd Trofeo Princesa Sofia in Mallorca Photo: Sailing Energy

Shifting wind directions and big changes of wind pressure again taxed competitors and race organisers alike as Mallorca’s giant 52 Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mallorca assumed its full size and shape when all ten Olympic classes took to the racing waters over the course of a very long day on the Bay of Palma.

Eve McMahon

McMahon's younger sister Eve racing in the women's ILCA6 event, put the disappointment of an early-starting disqualification on Monday behind her to place seventh in the second race of the day and lies 66th in a 106-boat fleet.

With the programme over the first two days compromised by weather, the organisers need a consistent Wednesday to get the qualifying series back on track. 

Olympic medallists started safely in the ILCA 6 and ILCA 7 fleets. The Netherlands' triple medallist Marit Bouwmeester tops the Womens' fleet whilst last year's Men's class winner GBR's Micky Beckett in second today, is sandwiched between Croatia's 2016 silver medallist Tonci Stipanovic who leads and Matt Wearn of Australia the reigning Olympic champion.

"It was a long day for a single race but I am happy to have won it so it was kind of worth it." smiled Wearn, "I was going well in the second race too when they abandoned it and so overall I am quite happy with the way I am sailing. Last year we had 25-30kts on the first race here and I had a breakage which cost me the two races effectively so I am happy to have started well now. We have had a good, big summer of training at home with our squad and some racing at the Nationals Sail Sydney and Sail Melbourne and did some training with the Brits at the venue for the 2024 Worlds and so I think I am in good shape."

Bouwmeester, who has started with a first and third remarked, "That was an ok result. But after two days, we have only done two races. Yesterday we started twice, but both races were cancelled again halfway through, due to lack of good wind. Today, three races were scheduled. Indeed, the other half of fleet has done three and our fleet only two. We are suffering from rain and showers here and they are completely messing up the wind. Yesterday we spent six hours on the water and today seven. They are very long days for very few races."

In spite of spending seven hours afloat and although the conditions were sunny for much of the day with up to 15 knots, the wind direction oscillated over 20-30 degrees and a steady course couldn't be set by the race committee for more than three hours.

Conditions permitting, three further races are scheduled for both ILCA single-handed fleets in the Men's and Women's events for Wednesday which will conclude the qualification round to decide Gold fleets across all classes in the regatta.

After Mallorca delivered more than two weeks of great winds and the weather perfect for pre-regatta training, the 1259 athletes from 66 nations at the 52 Trofeo Princesa Sofia Olympic classes regatta had to endure an ultimately frustrating opening day of unsettled, changeable winds which badly affected the scheduled programme.

Racing was scheduled for the ILCA 6 and 7 fleets, the 470 Mixed and the Men’s and Women’s iQFOiL fleets. But only one part of the Men’s iQFOiL fleet managed to complete two races, and the Men's ILCA 7 Yellow fleet finished one qualifying heat. The second race for the iQFOiLers was badly affected as the wind dropped away. Other races for the dinghy fleets had to be abandoned as the breeze faltered and shifted in direction when a big rain cloud drifted over the arena.

After an initial delay in the morning, waiting until the offshore gradient breeze dissipated, the southerly winds did come in, puffing up to more than 12kts at times. It all looked very promising. But the thermal breeze could not sustain itself and the foiling windsurfers suffered a long, slow, semi-sunken drift back to Can Pastilla.

A period of rain during the mid-afternoon did all it could to dampen the enthusiasm at this huge 2023 curtain-up gathering of all ten Olympic classes which will compete at the 2024 Olympic regatta in Marseille.

In their ILCA7 Men's flight, Ireland's Finn Lynch of the National Yacht Club and Ewan McMahon of Howth Yacht Club both had started their races well and after two legs were both holding top ten positions when the wind died, and the race was abandoned.

Jamie McMahon's flight was the only race completed where he finished 51st on provisional results and is considering a redress application for a mark rounding incident in which he was infringed.

Rule 42

In the women's ILCA6 event, Eve McMahon (Howth Yacht Club) saw her race abandoned, but not before she picked up a Rule 42 penalty for illegal propulsion just before the race was stopped due to lack of wind that had dropped to 1.2 knots.

Three races are now scheduled for Tuesday for those fleets that didn't get racing, but the forecast again suggests further challenging weather until later in the week.

49er skiff

The 49er skiff event is scheduled to begin racing on Tuesday with two Irish boats entered.

Tokyo Olympians Robert Dickson (Howth Yacht Club) and Séan Waddilove (Skerries Sailing Club) will be racing against Seáfra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan (Royal Cork Yacht Club) in the Blue flight of their class, which is expected to have three races - weather permitting

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The 52nd edition of the Trofeo Princesa Sofía, which will be held from this Wednesday 29 March to Friday 8 April on the Bay of Palma, marks the start of a crucial season for the teams in the run-up to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Among them the Irish Olympic team will be eager to prove their mettle, following on from the ILCA Euros earlier this month. Eve McMahon, Finn Lynch and other hopefuls are making the trip this week along with Ireland’s 49er contenders.

The Mallorcan regatta has a special importance just over a year before the Games of the 33rd Olympiad begin in Paris. The best Olympic sailing specialists in the world will meet in the Bay of Palma as a taste of what may happen at the French regatta off Marseille.

The pandemic reduced the Olympic cycle between Tokyo and Paris from the usual four years to three, an exception that intensified the programmes of sailors, teams and federations — and enhances the importance of events such as the Trofeo Princesa Sofía, which could not be held in 2020 or 2021. Last year, 2022, it made a strong comeback and faces 2023 as the biggest edition in its history.

Ferrán Muniesa, technical director of the Princess Sofia Trophy, explains that the pre-Olympic year is very important for the teams because “there are countries that have not achieved a place for the Games, so the Sofia, in many cases, is an Olympic country qualifying event. In this edition there is a lot of pressure, as it is well known that it is more difficult to get a selection place for a country than it is to participate in Paris 2024.

“This pressure is reflected in the numbers of the event, which for the first time will exceed 1,000 boats, with more than 1,300 sailors from 67 countries. The more sailors registered, the more groups there are to organise, and therefore the more races to compete in, which complicates the logistics.”

The changes in the Olympic classes have also affected the Trofeo Princesa Sofía. The Finn category and the division of 470 into male and female categories have given way to the unification in 470 Mixed and the creation of Formula Kite Men and Female, with the historic arrival of kitesurfing to the Olympic arena.

On the other hand, the iQFOiL revolutionises the windsurfing category, which now incorporates foils. Muniesa adds: “The events in the new flying classes are very short, between 12 and 15 minutes compared to 60 minutes before, and the speed is much higher. All of this makes the logistics more complicated, we have to be very attentive and increase safety.”

The first Sailing World Cup 2023 event will be followed by the Semaine Olympique Française in April in France, the Allianz Regatta in May-June in the Netherlands and the Kieler Woche in June in Germany. The hopefuls for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games have just 16 months to complete their preparations, and in the Princess Sofía they will find out where they stand in relation to their rivals and what their real chances are of achieving the coveted Olympic glory.

The 51 Trofeo Princesa Sofía will turn the bay of Palma into the world centre of Olympic classes from the 1st to the 9th of next April. With exactly two months to go before the start of the competition program, the regatta co-organized by the Club Nàutic S'Arenal, the Club Marítimo San Antonio de la Playa and the Real Club Náutico de Palma has already received the registration of more than 380 crews, which in the words of its technical director, Ferran Muniesa, anticipates a multitudinous edition: "Having such a high number of entries at this stage of the year is great news. Since we announced the cancellation of the 2020 edition due to the pandemic, we have not stopped receiving expressions of support from the entire international sailing community, and this rhythm of entries confirms that the teams are looking forward to the Trofeo Princesa Sofía.”

The Notice of Race for the 51 Princess Sofía Trophy was published on December 22, the day entries officially opened for the ten Olympic classes taking part: the women's ILCA 6, 49er FX, IQ Foil and Formula Kite; the men's ILCA 7, 49er, IQ Foil and Formula Kite; and the mixed 470 and Nacra 17.

First major multi-class regatta since the start of the pandemic

The 51st Princess Sofía Trophy will be the first major multi-class regatta since the beginning of the pandemic. "It is a source of pride to contribute to the return to normality, but on the other hand it is a great responsibility," said Muniesa. "From the Organizing Committee we work tirelessly to ensure the safety of all, we are in close contact with the health authorities and always attentive to the evolution of the protocols. The gradual opening of the borders allows most of the teams to plan their transfer to Mallorca, but there are still countries like Japan or China whose circumstances limit the participation of their crew members.” These limitations do not prevent that among the confirmed entries there are athletes from 52 nationalities, including countries as remote as New Zealand, Australia or India, as well as a large participation from the American continent and, of course, from all European countries.

Target, 700 teams
The forced absence of several federations will reduce the number of teams, but the Organizing Committee expects to reach the magnificent figure of 700 boats on the water. At the time of writing, 382 teams have registered, with the ILCA 7 (110) and ILCA 6 (76) making a significant contribution. Next in number are the 49er FX (40) and 49er (34), the mixed 470 (28) and Nacra 17 (28), men's IQ Foil (24), women's IQ Foil (16), men's Formula Kite (16) and women's Formula Kite (10). "The trickle is incessant, but it is precisely in these weeks when the pace of registrations traditionally accelerates, so we do not rule out exceeding a thousand sailors on the water," concludes Muniesa.

As part of their preparation programs, the participating teams anticipate their arrival in Mallorca to sail weeks in advance. Several federations have confirmed their intention to participate in the Mallorca Sailing Center Regatta, a training regatta prior to the 51 Trofeo Princesa Sofía to be held between March 10 and 13. The spectacle of Olympic classes will return to the bay of Palma with an estimated presence of more than 200 boats.

The 51 Trofeo Princesa Sofía Mallorca is the first scoring event for the Hempel World Cup Series organized by the international sailing federation, World Sailing.

The 51 Trofeo Princesa Sofía Mallorca is jointly organized by Club Nàutic S'Arenal, Club Marítimo San Antonio de la Playa, Real Club Náutico de Palma, Real Federación Española de Vela and Federación Balear de Vela, with the support of the main Balearic public institutions.

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Qualification events that lead to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics are being greatly affected this week by the world Coronavirus crisis. The second of three Irish Olympic Laser Radial trials due to be sailed as part of the 2020 Trofeo Princesa Sofia on March 30 to April 4 in Mallorca has been cancelled.

As late as yesterday, the Spanish organiser was pressing ahead with the event, issuing a breathless press release advising "already several hundreds of sailors are training in the waters of Mallorca to prepare for this regatta".

24 hours later, however, it's the second major Olympic classes regatta to be cancelled this week after the Genoa World Cup was pulled on Wednesday.

“We deeply regret this situation but we must follow the restrictions requested by the Authorities to face this world health issue,” said the event statement.

As Afloat previously reported, held on the Spanish island of Mallorca, this event in the Mediterranean Sea is the traditional start of the European season for Olympic classes. 

The cancellation of the Trofeo Princesa Sofia Iberostar also triggered the postponement of the 2020 470 Class World Championship that were to be held March 16-21 in Palma, Mallorca.

Published in Tokyo 2020

Organisers say there is intense activity already at the Trofeo Princesa Sofía Iberostar, to be held in the bay of Palma from 25th March to 4th April, especially at the venues of Club Nàutic S’Arenal and Club Marítimo San Antonio de la Playa. International sailing teams continue to arrive every day and there are already several hundreds of sailors training in waters of Mallorca to prepare for this regatta, considered as one of the best in the International Olympic calendar despite the threat of the Coronavirus threat. 11 people are currently recorded as having the virus on the Balearic islands, according to local media sources.

Teams from Japan, Australia, the US, Russia, Italy, Switzerland, France, Great Britain, Germany, Hungary and Croatia as well as Spanish sailors, have been doing their winter training since the end of January in the venues of the Trofeo Princesa Sofía Iberostar, specially classes 470, 49er, Nacra 17, Finn and Laser.

The largest fleet is undoubtedly the 470, both women and men, with over 80 teams. Club Nàutic S’Arenal will host the Class World Championship from 13th to 21st March, just before the Sofia Iberostar, so there will be much at stake in the bay of Palma.

Most 49er sailors (around 45 teams, men and women) are also in Mallorca after the end of the Class World Championship in Australia some weeks ago.

The same waves as in Tokyo 2020

The Trofeo Princesa Sofía Iberostar will be a selection event for some nations to decide the teams that will have the honour and responsibility of representing their country at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics so it will be a tense period for many from 30th March to 4th April, racing days in Palma.

For those who secure the Olympic spot for the Summer Games, the Sofía Iberostar has an added value: “If we are lucky to have the usual wind (SW) in the bay of Palma, with big waves, it would be as sailing in waters of Enoshima”, points out Santiago López-Vázquez, Olympic preparation Manager of the Spanish Sailing Federation (RFEV).

According to Mark Robinson, manager of the British Olympic Sailing Team, “Trofeo Princesa Sofia is a favourite amongst our sailors and the bay of Palma is the perfect venue. Our sailors look forward to training in the sun, wind and waves that Palma is famous for”. The large British team, including the Technical team members, are already at the Club venues after training in Portugal and taking part in some World championships held in the Southern Hemisphere.

Swiss sailors also appreciate the conditions in the bay of Palma. “The venue is awesome to train with many different conditions, and above all, a very good temperature in winter! We started training three days ago and for now, we had a good breeze and big waves, which is perfect to improve my weaknesses”, points out Eliot Merceron, Laser Standard sailor.

The top world sailors

“Everyone comes here because we know we will have great sailing conditions”, adds Sébastien Schneiter, Swiss 49er team skipper-. The 49er world’s best sailors are here”. His crew, Lucien Cujean, highlights that the Sofia Iberostar “enables you to judge if you did a good winter training. It’s always a good value for us in term of quality, racing, and time on the water!”

The Chief of the Spanish Navy also agrees with this view toward the Olympic Games: “The 51st edition of the Trofeo Princesa Sofía Iberostar, in this Olympic year, provides the best international regatta possible for the Spanish pre-Olympic team to test our nation’s preparation level, with scarcely four months left for the Tokyo 2020 Games”.

Racing kicks off on 26th March

The Dragon, ORC and one-design classes will open the Trofeo Princesa Sofía Iberostar. These fleets, based at Real Club Náutico de Palma, will race from 26th to 29th March. The Olympic Classes, with venues in Club Nàutic S’Arenal and Club Marítimo San Antonio de la Playa, will race from 30th March to 4th April, with the top sailors battling in the Medal Races, which score double points, on the last day.

Multinational hotel company Grupo Iberostar from Mallorca is the event’s main sponsor since 2015. Furthermore, the 51 Trofeo Princesa Sofía Iberostar has the collaboration of Marine Pool, Trasmediterránea, Europcar, Torqeedo and Palma Beach as well as the institutional support of the Balearic Government through the Balearic Islands Tourism Strategy Agency (AETIB), the Turisme Mallorca Foundation from Consell de Mallorca and Ports de Balears as well as Palma and Llucmajor city councils.

Published in Tokyo 2020

The counter clicks down. On Monday there are just 130 days to go until the 2016 Olympic Sailing regatta starts and in Mallorca the curtain will rise on the crucial, high pressure European Olympic regattas season when more than 800 boats take to the Bay of Palma for the 47th Trofeo Princesa Sofia IBEROSTAR. 

Just qualified for Rio, Irish 49er skiff pair Andrea Brewster and Saskia Tidey will be among 13 Irish sailors competing on the Bay of Palma. Three Irish Laser sailors are in Mallorca for the second part of their neck and neck trial. James Espey leads Finn Lynch by a point and Fionn Lyden is five points off the lead. As well as the the trialists Kinsale's Darragh O'Sullivan is also competing in the Laser division.

There is a red hot fleet of 150 in the mens Laser class where even qualifying for the 60–boat gold fleet represents a big achievement in itself. A stand out performance such as Lynch's gold fleet finish a fortnight ago at the European Championships would give the edge in what is a neck–and–neck race for the single Irish berth.

Ireland has now qualified for four sailing events at the Rio 2016 Olympics including the Men’s 49er skiff, Laser Standard, Laser Radial as well as the 49erFX women’s event. 

Oisin McClelland from Northern Ireland is competing in the Finn class, the Donaghdee man had some promising races in the Europeans two weeks ago and has been based in Valencia all winter. His main target this year is the Finn Junior worlds.

The popular, showcase Balearic Olympic regatta is an Olympic qualifying regatta for the first time. So this week represents the last chance to secure the remaining Olympic places for European nations in each of the ten Olympic classes, and also for one African nation in the Finn and the Nacra 17 Class.

Suffice to say the pressure on certain sailors is only set to rise here. And almost inevitably the long cherished, hard fought for dreams of competing at the 2016 Olympic regatta in Rio, for many will be left behind on the Bay of Palma.

Such are the stakes at this 47th Trofeo Princesa Sofia IBEROSTAR - Olympic qualification - that the total complement of entries across the classes is significantly higher than at the corresponding regatta back in 2012 when all that was offered was silverware, the chance to polish up the processes in hard racing conditions and to check in with the opposition.

There are 220 more boats entered this year than raced here in the lead up to London 2012. Entries officially close Sunday but already in excess of 800 boats are registered representing 68 different nations, three more nations competing here than in 2012.

Proud of their long history of producing what many sailors regard as the best, most professionally run Olympic regatta in the Med the organisers have upped their game too.

"For us this is very special to have Olympic selection here. It's our chance to shine. We have more responsibility to the sailors to be more professional than ever, to run better races. People are taking a lot of risks here, there is a lot of pressure on them and we need to respond, all making that extra effort on the water." says Ferran Muniesa, Regatta Director.

"We have added an eighth race area, up from seven in the past, just to ensure we are as efficient as we can be, looking to make it easier to get right through the qualifying shcedule on the first days."

"And we have talked closely with the classes and the sailors, listening to what they wanted here to make the regatta the best it can be. For example the Nacra 17s wanted all their boats weighed. And the Finns requested a specific Race Officer to be with us."

The regatta have made a significant investment in time and money to develop an APP which is available on IOS and Android. It is designed to show the race tracks for fans, friends and families of the competitors. It also allows media to follow racing remotely. The application (APP) provides access to all the information available on the web (live information from the race course, regatta results, bulletin boarda, news and multimedia) and also allows the user to select one or more sailors or one or more classes to follow, to receive notifications with the most relevant information on the specified sailors or classes.

All of the classes have strong entries. Some contain most of what would be considered the top medal favourites for Rio.

Medallists, Champions are here
The record entry in the Nacra 17s have five duos of the top six finishers at last month's world championships including France's four times world champions Billy Besson and Marie Riou. The Finn class includes Gold Cup holder Giles Scott (GBR), recently crowned European champion Pieter-Jan Postma (NED), Brazil's Miami World Cup winner Jorge Zarif, Denmark's 2012 Olympic silver medallist and runner up in Miami Jonas Hogh-Christensen, Europeans runner up and four of the top six ISAF ranked sailors.

Brazil's legendary Robert Scheidt, Miami World Cup winner must be top seed in the Laser class which is at maximum capacity but misses a few top names. Among those not here are GBR's World Champion Nick Thompson and Australia's Tom Burton.

The Women's Laser Radial class sees China's Olympic Gold medalist Lijia Zu stepping up her compressed, compact 2016 Olympic campaign after her sixth placed Europeans finish and 12th in Miami. Belgium's 2012 Bronze Medallist Evi Van Acker, 2012 Bronze Medallist heading for her third Olympics lines up. New European Champion Marit Bouwmeester (NED) is not here but the Europeans' third, fourth and fifth placed Josefin Olsson (SWE), Tuula Tenkanen (FIN) and 2008 Silver Medallist Gintare Scheidt (LTU)- the winner of the 2015 Rio test event are all racing in the 95 boat field. The Men's 470 fleet features helms and or crew which won all three 2012 Olympic medals.

Inevitably some selection battles will go to the wire. For example while the USA Sailing Team have already selected in five classes, Australia have chosen in three classes - 470 Men, 49er and Nacra 17 and the British Sailing Team have selected in eight classes , their selection trials continuing in the 470 men and 49er classes are ongoing. Among the most engaging internal battles this week will be that for the USA's Laser berth between Charlie Buckingham and Erik Bowers, similarly an ongoing rivalry in the Finn Class between Australia's Oliver Tweddell and Jake Lilley. There are many more through the fleets.

Whether they have only recently secured their selection or actually booked their tickets to Rio as early as last year in Santander at the ISAF Sailing World Championships, for dozens of other sailors this week is much more about learning hard miles in the white heat of competition. After beating Olympic Silver Medallist Zach Railey for the USA Finn berth Caleb Paine has swapped one type of pressure for another:

"Now it is about testing everything and making sure I am best prepared for the Olympics. The immediate stress is relieved slightly but here it is about seeing how I stack up agains the rest of the competition. I have the ability now to focus on my complete racing. It is going to be a great event with such a high quality fleet. Definitely here I want to work on my downwind speed."

Published in Olympic

#trofeosofia – Annalise Murphy of the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire enters the final day of racing this morning before Saturday's medal races in third place overall at the Trofeo Sofia in Palma. Breeze lovers in all classes made the most of the conditions with some perfect scores and are closing the gap on some of the regatta leaders. Today will see the last day of finals and the last chance to break into the top ten for medal race participation.

One of Annalise's arch rivals, Evi Van Acker (BEL) is continuing undefeated in the Laser Radial finals with two more bullets added to her perfect score. It has been a formidable performance eclipsing Annalise's own heavy weather speed edge. The 2014 SWC Champion is obviously enjoying the breezy conditions and is closing the gap on Alison Young (GBR) who is conserving a one point lead going into the last day of finals. "There is a very strong competition in this regatta. It has been good racing and I have been consistent in all conditions. We will see what the rest brings in." Van Acker said.

Annalise's capsize dropped her out of the top ten for the first time in the competition, scoring an 11th, her discard, in race seven. The main hope for an Irish sailing medal in Rio tweeted last night: 'A hard day for me today including a unintentional swim in the second race. In 3rd overall now'.

After scoring some big points in the first day of finals, the Spanish FX team of Tamara Echegoyen and Berta Betanzos are back in contention with a win and top five results. They are placing second overall, just four points behind Danish sisters Maiken and Anne-Julie Foght-Schutt. The Royal Irish Yacht Club's Glamrockers Andrea Brewster and Saskia Tidey are in the top half of the skiff fleet, 21st from 47.

Despite a penalty collected for starting too early, Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) are conserving a healthy 21 points lead over Erik Heil and Thomas Ploessel (GER), but can't make any more mistake. The German have also increased their lead to 22–points over Brazilian team of Bianchi and Lowbeer. Another two top ten places (7,8) scored by the Belfast Lough 49er pair Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern keep them eighth overall and in medal race contention barring slip–ups today.

Overall Class leaders going into Friday's racing are:

470 Men: Luke Patience / Elliot Willis, GBR
470 Women: Jo Aleh / Polly Powrie, NZL
49er: Peter Burling / Blair Tuke, NZL
49er FX: Maiken Foght Schutt / Anne-Julie Foght Schutt, DEN
Finn: Giles Scott, GBR
Laser: Philipp Buhl, GER
Laser Radial: Alison Young, GBR
NACRA 17: Billy Besson / Marie Riou, FRA
RS:X Men: Julien Bontemps, FRA
RS: X Women: Charline Picon, FRA
2.4 Metre: Megan Pascoe, GBR
Dragon: Patrick Monteiro De Barros / Pedro Manuel, POR

Class winners:
Kiteboard Men: Florian Trittel, ESP
Kiteboard Women: Elena Kalinina, RUS

Published in Olympic

#annalisemurphy – The National Yacht Club's Annalise Murphy dealt well with the demanding conditions in the Bay of Palma yesterday in the opening rounds of the Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofia in Mallorca.  In the Radial, experienced sailors Tatiana Drozdovskaya (BLR), Alison Young (GBR) and Annalise are top three after two races in gusty winds. Annalise lived up to her Irish Sports Council star billing as a 'podium athlete' and leads Irish squad fortunes so far in Spain with Irish Olympic class sailors also competing in the 49er, 49erFX and the Laser dinghy classes.

The wind played dirty tricks all day in Palma on sailors and race committees who had to juggle with big shifts and different pressure. From 4 to 20 knots, and reaching 40 in some gusts, the wind turned around the bay playing with everybody's nerves! However, the show was on with the bay covered with white caps and the 800 boats that raced their first day in the event.

The Finns were the first fleet to return ashore with two races completed. World champion Giles Scott (GBR) took the first race, managing the shifts to his advantage.

The wind played havoc in the first women 470 race with two third of the fleet in the blue group failing to finish within the time limit.

Sailing the Nacra today proved to be quite an athletic performance with gusts reaching over 30 knots. Only ten boats managed to finish the first race in both groups where capsizes and broken equipment was a common sight

Olympic medalists and World champions Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) are taking a perfect start in the 49er event with two victories. Northern Ireland skiff pair Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern are 14th from 71. 

Tamara Echegoyen and Berta Betanzos (ESP) proved just as good with a clean score in the FX. Dun Laoghaire's Andrea Brewster and Saskia Tidey are 29th from 40.

Jesper Stalheim (SWE), Tom Burton (AUS) and Lorenzo Chiavarini (GBR) have claimed the only race sailed in the three laser groups. Belfast lough's James Espey lies 64th from 150.

Only eight out of 45 windsurfers crossed the finish line in the Men RS:X yellow group. Today windy race was won by World champion Julien Bontemps (FRA) and Samuel Sills (GBR) in the Men and by Maayan DAVIDOVICH (ISR) and Sofia Keplacka (POL) in the women.

For the second day in a row, the kites didn't race. The wind was either too strong or too gusty to allow for proper racing.

Racing continues today for all classes.

Published in Annalise Murphy
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