Britain’s elite sailors laid down a marker as the 2022 season got underway at Palma’s iconic Trofeo Princesa Sofia, bringing home medals in six of the ten classes.
The British Sailing Team haul included two golds, a silver and three bronze as the six-day regatta came to a climax in Palma Bay.
Michael Beckett took gold in the ILCA 7 (formerly Laser) class, his first ever medal at any World Cup event, while Andy Brown scored his first senior win of his career in the iQFOiL windsurfing class. Hannah Snellgrove took silver in in the ILCA 6 (formerly Laser Radial), and there were bronzes for Ellie Aldridge and Connor Bainbridge in the Formula Kite classes, and John Gimson and Anna Burnet in the Nacra 17.
“This is one of the first World Cup regattas I ever did, 10 years ago, and so the number of people here and the scale of the event makes it special,” said Michael Beckett. “I remember at the time how unbelievably difficult it was then and I had so much respect for the people who were winning then. This is a proper event and this is the first World Cup event I have won. That means a lot.”
Andy Brown, from Glasgow, revelled in Palma’s blustery conditions and proved his skill in the Olympics’ new foiling windsurfing class with eight race wins in 18 races, only once placing outside of the top 10.
“I am feeling amazing,” Andy said. “It is the first time I have won any senior medal in an Olympic class, and I am absolutely buzzing. I have been competing at this event for six years now and it feels great to win.”
Just like her ILCA counterpart, Hannah Snellgrove also started the medal race guaranteed of silverware – although a 25-point gap to leader Sarah Douglas of Canada made gold unattainable. Hannah’s battle for second was with Greece’s Vasileia Karachaliou, who started the medal race just a point behind. The sailor in fourth, Louise Cervera, of France, had no chance of third, so the medal race became a shoot-out for silver.
“I feel really happy and relieved,” said Hannah, from Lymington. “It was a really stressful medal race, and I went into it knowing I could win either silver or bronze, so it was a case of ‘who beat’ who between Vasileia and me.
“I am super happy to come away with the silver. It is my best result at this regatta and it is a massive confidence boost for the season ahead.”
Ellie Aldridge, from Poole, and Weymouth’s Connor Bainbridge are no strangers to the Formula Kite podium, and both continued their stellar run of form with a brace of bronzes.
Elsewhere Sam Sills was fifth in the men’s iQFOiL class, while sister Saskia finished tenth in the women’s fleet, just behind Islay Watson in ninth and Emma Wilson in eighth.
British 470 pairs Vita Heathcote/Ryan Orr and Martin Wrigley/Eilidh McIntyre were ninth and tenth respectively as the class’s new mixed format made its debut at Trofeo Princesa Sofia.
New 49erFX pair Freya Black and Saskia Tidey were dealt a cruel blow when they were disqualified from the last race of the final series, relegating them to 11th overall. Teammates Megan Brickwood and Steph Orton were just one place back in 12th.
Young guns Nick Robins and Dan Budden were the top 49er boat in 20th; Tokyo 2020 gold medallist Dylan Fletcher and new crew Rhos Hawes had to pull out on day one with damage to their boat.
The British Sailing Team will now turn its attention to the Semaine Olympique Francais in Hyeres later this month. For the full results from Trofeo Princesa Sofia head to https://www.trofeoprincesasofia.org/en/default/races/race-resultsall.