Sea breezes in as normal service resumed at 53 Trofeo Princesa Sofía Mallorca by Iberostar

The thermal sea-breeze conditions for which Mallorca’s Bay of Palma is world renowned returned to allow a full programme of competition to be completed today, getting the giant 53 Trofeo Princesa Sofía Mallorca by Iberostar Olympic classes regatta back on course after Monday’s schedule was curtailed by strong winds and big waves.

After having to sit out the first day, the Men’s and Women’s iQFOiL windsurfers, Nacra 17 mixed multihull and the skiff fleets – 49er and 49erFX – all benefited from the slightly unsettled 9-12kts breezes which were made more challenging by the leftover choppy seas.

Among the standouts so far are last year’s defending Sofía champions in the huge ILCA 7 Men’s dinghy class Great Britain’s Micky Beckett – who is bidding to win overall for a third consecutive time – seized the lead after wins in both his heats today. Beckett is four points up on Germany’s 2020 world champion Philipp Buhl who is four points astern.

“It is such a big change to go from the massive waves of yesterday to the light and tight stuff of today I was pleased to be able to do so today, leading round both windward marks, I did no actually then extend much but I did enough to stay ahead both times.” Reported Beckett who led Cyprus’ 2012 London silver medallist across the line in the first race and Ireland’s Finn Lynch in the second heat.

Things have not gone so well so far for last year’s ILCA 6 winner Marit Bouwmeester, the Netherlands sailor who already holds a ‘full set’ of gold, silver and bronze medals from 2016, 2012 and 2021 respectively. She was third in the first race yesterday after breaking a vang which she replaced only for the new one to go again forcing her to abandon the second race. Second and 10th today Bouwmeester is up to eighth whilst Belgium’s Emma Plasschaert tops the fleet.

 “I liked the conditions yesterday, strong winds and big waves. I think sailing is about consistency and doing it well in every condition so it’s nice to get different conditions. Today, the first race I didn’t get it quite right, and the second race was a good one.” Bouwmeester said, “I took a big break again after the Worlds, to balance my life a little bit as a Mum with a baby, so now I am back just getting back into racing.”

Poland’s vice world champion Pavel Tarnowski conclusively dominated the iQFOiL men’s fleet winning all four races whilst in the women’s fleet Norway’s Mina Mobekk leads after three.

And on the Men’s Formula Kite courses today Singapore’s world champion Max Maeder delivered two first places and a second. Last year’s overall Trofeo Princesa Sofia regatta winner is seven points up on Austria’s Valentin Bontus who was fourth at least year’s worlds and seventh at the Marseille test event. On the Women’s side 2022’s Bay of Palma winner the US Sailing Team’s Daniela Moroz won three of her four races to extend her lead over Australia’s Breiana Whitehead.

Other Olympic events have already contested their 2024 world championships, like the 470, ILCAs and the 49ers. Not so the Nacra17 mixed multihull fleet which has not raced since their Europeans in early November and must wait until early May for their worlds in early May in La Grande Motte. So after a period of winter training there is some curiosity to see who has made advances if any.

Germany’s 2020 Olympic bronze medallists Paul Kohlhoff and Alica Stulhemmer have had a to recruit a new coach in that intervening period and have Australian double Olympian Andrew Palfrey in their corner in Palma. Counting two second places and a third the Kiel duo who are destined for their second Olympics together lead European champions John Gimson and Anna Burnet of GBR, last year’s Sofía winners.

“Consistent starting and going the right way were key and we did that quite well. It is tough to know what we expect here because we have not seen most of the fleet since the Europeans and so it is and so it always exciting to come back together after a big winter training block. We were in Lanzarote and did a lot of racing in light and windy conditions, so it is nice to be back racing in a big fleet like this here. And working with our new coach is inspirational with new ideas, new ways and he has a lot of experience.” Said Kohlhoff

While their compatriots in the 470, ILCA 6 and 7 and 49ers have all now booked their selection for France’s home games, Nacra 17 pair Tim Mourniac and Lou Berthomieu believe they are ahead of their rivals but France’s process is believed to be subjective and ongoing. They know this will be a key, observed regatta whereas the worlds on their home waters will not. They lie fourth after today with three times world champion Billy Besson, who represented France in the class in Rio 2016, now sailing with Noa Ancian, lying in eighth.

“We were looking to not start with too many points on the board from the first day and we achieved that.” smiled Mourniac, past Youth World Champion, “Our selection process has been going on since we were here last year and Hyères we know will be important. Nothing is mathematical so we don’t really know where we are, all we know is every regatta is super important. We keep pushing all the time trying to stay in the top five, top ten all the time. But we think the best French crew will be selected before the worlds.”

In the 49ers being able to risk on the busy start line and get to the left was key and that worked for Aussies Jack Ferguson and Max Paul who landed three wins and an eighth in the Yellow fleet to lead. 
A re-formed partnership with potential, Paul was second last year at this regatta with Tom Burton.

“It was a left hand track for us all day and the key focus was to get off the start line quick and get left. We executed that more times than we didn’t and so it is a good outcome right now.  This is my first time back in the 49er since the worlds last year and I used to sail with Max, so we are pretty happy with the first day. I am just here because I missed 49er sailing.” Said Ferguson.

The 49er FX fleet launched later in the afternoon as did the 470s. The women’s skiffs only managed two races before the thermal wind got too light. Norway’s Helen Naess and Marie Ronnigen won both heats to lead. In the 470s Germany’s husband and wife duo Malte and Anastaysia Winkel are still top after sailing a discard 16thwhilst their selection rivals Luise Wanser and Philipp Autenrieth – runners up here last year – finished second to Italy’s Giacomo Ferrari and Alessandra Dubbini.

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.

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