Palma, Spain (April 5, 2022) – The giant 51st Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mallorca was up to full strength for the first time on a chilly and windy Bay of Palma today as all ten Olympic classes competed on the eight race course areas with 1015 athletes on 779 craft.
Formula Kite kitesurfing blasted into the Olympic classes arena for the first time with a barnstorming opening day amid the gusty conditions. France leads in two of the three qualifying groups of the Formula Kite Men, while Slovenia’s Toni Vodisek won Yellow Group with a clean sweep of four victories on the three-lap race track.
One of the Frenchmen, Benoit Gomez, also racked up four straight bullets in Blue Group while his compatriot Theo de Ramecourt almost managed the perfect opener but for a UFD disqualification in his second race. “It’s not so bad to push the edges,” shrugged de Ramecourt, the reigning World Champion. “I have been too far back in my starts in regattas last year, so it’s OK if I get a UFD, I’m finding the level.”
The two leading Frenchmen couldn’t be more different in stature, with de Ramecourt weighing in around 80kg while Gomez is more around the 110kg mark. Perhaps over time the athletes will all move towards a more similar size, but right now it’s technique, fitness, courage, and tactical intelligence that makes the difference in this brand new Olympic discipline.
Winter squad training appears to have gone well for the British squad in Formula Kite Women. Ellie Aldridge takes the lead after four races, two points ahead of her team mate Maddie Anderson. In third place is the reigning World Champion from the USA, Daniela Moroz.
iQFOiL go long distance
The iQFOiL foiling windsurfers were out on the water early to beat the crowds for their 13 nautical miles long distance race. The Men and Women fleets set off ten minutes apart just after nine in the morning on an upwind downwind loop of about three nautical miles.
France’s Hélène Noesmoen, World and European champion won the Women’s long distance iQFOiL race but after an hour of high speed upwind-downwind racing round the three miles loop in a gusty offshore breeze peaking at 25-26kts, she was no more than 20 metres ahead of GBR’s charging Saskia Sills who was catching fast on the final leg.
A multiple youth world champion who made a point of completing an engineering degree, Noesmoen is a member of the SailGP France team. She opened with a 1,2,1 today and is quickly stamping her authority on the new class.
“The long distance race was good, if a bit hard for everyone as the wind picked up a lot. I was always in the first pack and then on the second downwind I took the lead but at the finish line the British girl Saskia Sills was pushing me hard and finished close there were only 20 metres in it.
“But that is a good start for me for the week. It was one of the windiest races we have done since the beginning of the iQ. My best here on the RS:X was maybe a top 10 but I never made the podium. It is choppy here and so you really need to be focused on your foil.”
A strong statement
Having missed out on selection for Tokyo in favor of Emile Amoros and Lucas Rual, the French 49er duo Erwan Fischer and Clément Pequin are doubly determined to represent their nation in just over two years time in Marseille.
They are hoping that the fact the national flag for their new, black 3Di sails did not arrive and they are sailing on their well used, older sails, proves to be a good omen for this time. They made a strong statement of intent today with two solid wins in breezy conditions which, again, put a premium on avoiding capsizes.
Fischer and Pequin dropped their rig in momentarily in the first race but a quick recovery allowed the duo who have been sailing together since 2018 to stay in the hunt. “We had 20-25kts which we like. It was pretty hard to keep the boat upright. We capsized in the at the bear away in the first race but recovered quickly. It was really choppy and shifty. We made good maneuvers all the way through.
“We wanted to use the new sails but we had an issue with our national flag. It did not arrive. And so we sailed with the old sails which we know well. In these conditions it is not about speed it is about surviving and good maneuvers and gybing safely.”
Fourteenth here in 2019, they have just finished third in the Mallorca Sailing Centre training regatta after a winter training in Vilamoura, Portugal.
“Our selection race for Tokyo was very strong and very close and in the end we did not go. For sure this regatta feels like the start of our passage to Marseille and I hope today is a good omen,” noted Fischer.
In the 49erFX, the Netherlands new combination of 2021 World champion, Odile Van Aanholt sailing with Tokyo bronze medalist Annette Duetz is off to a powerful start sharing the overall lead after three races with Brazil’s double gold medalists Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze in second.
470, Italians fast track plans
It was on the plane back home from the Tokyo games that Italy’s early leaders of the Mixed 470 class, Giacomo Ferrari and Bianca Caruso, pledged to team up together and campaign the new Olympic class.
Childhood sailing friends from Rome who raced Optimists against other in 2004, they recognized that with the short runway to the 2024 Olympic regatta, as Italy’s Tokyo men’s and women’s 470 helm and crew pairing up was a strong proposition. They count two firsts and second to narrowly lead Spain’s bronze medal winning helm Jordi Xammar and Nora Brugman.
“I was fourth in the Men’s fleet here in 2018 so I know the regatta well,” recalls helm Ferrari who was sixth in Tokyo with Giulio Calabro. “But here we are, with so little time before the next games we have to sail together a lot, a lot, a lot. We are super friends and know each other. We are equal in the boat, it is a democracy. We have been friends so long we talk a lot. And this is a nice way to start our campaign.”
ILCA Beckett on top, gold medalist on the prowl
Britain’s Michael Beckett moved to the top of the 180 boat ILCA 7 leaderboard after scoring 1,2 in the Blue Group of Qualifying. Reigning Olympic Champion Matt Wearn winner here in 2018, scored the reciprocal results of 2,1 in Blue Group but the Australian has risen only to 32nd overall in the 167 boat fleet after a DNC yesterday.
Beckett was pleased with his day but is expecting a much harder fight from tomorrow Wednesday when the top tier get reorganized into Gold Fleet racing. “None of it’s easy but in those conditions today the top five do start to stretch a bit of a gap after a while,” said Beckett. “Tomorrow it’s going to be much harder, the margins will be much smaller and the quality of the fleet will make it a bigger challenge.”
Vadnai, from landlocked Lake Balaton, enjoyed the shifty conditions on the race course. “Sunshine, windy and shifty, my favorite!” said the Hungarian.
Canada’s Sarah Douglas reveled in the cold, gusty weather to score two bullets, a perfect follow-on from her second and first places from the opening day in the ILCA 6 class. Douglas holds a four-point lead over Hungary’s Mária Érdi who is two points in front of Maxime Jonker of the Netherlands.
Nacra 17, a work in progress
The first day results seem to suggest it is business as usual for Italy’s Rugerro Tita and Caterina Banti as the 2020 Olympic champions rolled out a 2,1,1 from their first three races in the Nacra 17 to lead by a couple of points. However, Tita admitted the 2018 world champions are still in the very early stages of developing their new rudder control system.
“It was a bit crazy out there,” shared Tita. “We are trying to learn this new rudder control system which makes the boat much faster so we did our best. We found a good mode for upwind on the foil but beyond that let us say it is a work in progress, it is still under development.
“We have sailed only three days in Cagliari with this system only and for sure there is a lot of development still to come. It is a bit hard now with the America’s Cup set to be in 2024 too but we will see what we can do but for sure seeing the Cup coming to Barcelona, closer to home, is good news.”
MORE: For the North American contingent, Sarah Douglas (CAN) is far and away the bright light as she leads the ILCA 6, winning three of four races. The US Team was boosted today as racing got underway for Daniela Moroz (3rd, Formula Kite) and Ian Barrows/Hans Henken (6th, 49er).
MATH: For the 470 Class to remain in the Olympics, they had to agree to merge their men’s and women’s events into a mixed event for Paris 2024. But in 2019, there were 118 total boats at this event (73 men and 45 women), whereas in 2022 there are 64 mixed teams competing. Is this progress?
Racing is being held April 4-9.
With 62 nations represented, there are 1,015 competitors with 779 boats in Palma de Mallorca for the largest Olympic class regatta since the Tokyo 2020 Games.
Part of the Hempel World Cup Series, the popular Princesa Sofía regatta is back after a two year break due to COVID-19, and is the first of two regattas in 2022 that gathers all Olympic class boats in one place.
2022 Hempel World Cup Series:
April 4-9 – Hempel World Cup Series Palma (Princess Sofía Regatta), Spain
May 31-June 5 – Hempel World Cup Series Amsterdam (Allianz Regatta), The Netherlands
TBC – Hempel World Cup Marseille, France
The Hempel World Cup Series is the definitive annual circuit for the world’s leading sailors and Olympic hopefuls. Mirroring the Olympic style of sailing in format, duration and fleet sizes, the World Cup Series visits prestige venues across the globe at all stages of the four-year Olympic cycle, supporting athletes in their quest to qualify for the Games and connecting fans with the very best sailors in the sport.
Source: Trofeo Sofia Mallorca