HomeSAILINGChallenges for all at the 52 Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mallorca

Challenges for all at the 52 Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mallorca

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 by Iberostar 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.

With many nations using this regatta as an observed or even a one-off, first past the post selection event for this summer’s Olympic test event the stakes are considerably higher than one year ago. A strong start to the series is more critical than ever particularly in the classes where countries have several athletes or crews chasing. Indeed for many reigning Olympic and World Champions their selection still has to be earned.

The potency of Germany’s close knit squad of 470 Mixed sailors is enviable. Winners of last October’s 470 Mixed world title with a day to spare, Luise Wanser and Philipp Autenrieth, made a strong start to their challenge with a fourth and third to top the class ahead of their their compatriots, husband and wife partnership Malte and Anastaysia Winkel who are second by a single point.

After being odds on to win a medal in Tokyo, Wanser and Anastaysia Winkel finished disappointed in sixth after a punitive DSQ for a technical equipment infringement. The ebullient helm Wanser is even more focused on delivering on her clearly stated vision of winnng gold in Paris 2024. With team-mates Simon Diesch and Anna Markfort in seventh and Therese Dahnke and Matti Cipra in ninth, Germany have four crews in the top 10 after Day 1.

“This felt like the first big day of competition since the Worlds last October.” said Wanser, ” I was a bit nervous, but the nerves are good for me. I need the pressure!”

“We have been training well as a squad. There have been a few injuries over the winter but now everybody is healthy and it’s good to see the Germans going well .”

Speaking of the variable weather which has been hard to forecast for the team weather gurus she observes, “I think at the moment it’s like every day is a new day and you never quite know what’s going to happen. Forecasts are useful but you really need to see what’s happening on the water in the moment. Things can change quickly on days like today.”

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 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.”

France’s Kevin Fischer and Yann Jauvin made their mark in the 49er fleet with a pair of wins in the yellow fleet replicating the opening of their compatriots Erwan Fischer and Clément Pequin who went on to win the class.

Helm Kevin Fischer reported, “Conditions were pretty light when we got on the water, then wind picked up a bit with different clouds and patches of wind. It was a very tactical day. First of it all it was the start, we need to put the boat in front of the fleet to have a good vision of the wind, we planned for a good start, a good line to be able to choose the best wind.  It’s a good way to start our regatta, but it’s very long. It’s a pleasure to finish a winter training block with two wins at a World Cup sailing regatta.  Today it was more about the wind shifts. Speed was important but the big gains were from taking the right shifts. And I’m from Brittany in France, we have a lot of clouds there, and I think that background helps me read a day like today in Palma.”

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

The 52 Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofía Mallorca by Iberostar is the first qualifying event for the Sailing World Cup 2023 and will be held from 29 March to 8 April under the joint organisation of 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 backing of World Sailing and the main Balearic public institutions. It is funded by the European Union Next Generation EU, the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan and the Balearic Islands Tourism Strategy Agency.

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