Misaki Tanaka & Sera Nagamatsu

Misaki Tanaka & Sera Nagamatsu

Consistency eludes many top contenders today at 53 Trofeo Princesa Sofía

Sport

04/04/2024 - 19:20
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The light sea-breeze condition on the Bay Of Palma today proved especially testing for the giant fleet at the 53 Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mallorca by Iberostar and even many of the event leaders struggled to record consistently top finishes as the winds moved around in direction and pressure over the fourth day of racing.

Italy’s World and Olympic Nacra 17 champion helm Ruggero Tita harbours a dream of this summer first retaining the gold medal he and indefatigable crew Caterina Banti won in Tokyo 2021 and then, only a few weeks later, steering Italy’s America’s Cup challenger Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli in the 37th America’s Cup off Barcelona.

Dividing his time between Olympics and Cup has been a challenge, not least as the levels in the mixed foiling multihull goes up and up. And as one of the young gun challengers, alongside Marco Gradoni, pressing Francesco Bruni and Jimmy Spithill to keep improving, Tita has high hopes he could get the nod as a Cup helm ideally with a second gold medal in his locker. Could both happen?

“Life is beautiful, let’s see, let’s go step by step.” Smiles Tita in the Nacra 17 boatpark at CN Arenal, “The Games are before and so we are really focused on them. We know that winning again will really depend on the conditions we will find there but for sure as soon as it is foiling we are happy. In this light winds sailing like today we are not so good, but we are getting better.”

Consolidating
Winners overall of the Trofeo Princesa Sofía top award two years ago, and triumphant in the Nacra 17 class in 2018 the Italian duo today consolidated their overall lead over three races in a tricky, light sea breeze which was unsettled in terms of direction and pressure.

All of the top teams recorded a big score today, the leaders finishing 19th in the third race to hold a seven points margin over GBR’s European Champions, John Gimson and Anna Burnet. Top scorers of the day were the French duo Billy Besson and Noa Ancian. With a second and first they are now five points behind Tim Mourniac and Lou Berthomieu with whom they are reported to be neck and neck in the selection for the last remaining spot on France’s team for their home, Marseille Olympics.

Poles pressing for skiff selection
This regatta is a selection event for Poland’s Olympic team too and Lukasz Przybytek and Jacek Piasecki are strengthening their claim to their nation’s 49er spot with a strong performance so far. Ninth at Tokyo 2021 the duo are tied with Spain’s Diego Botín and Florian Trittel.

“Our race course was close to the shore and the left side paid all the time. We got good starts and made four solid races. Last time here we just missed the Medal race so this time we are aiming to make it and then who knows. This and Hyeres are our final trial events but we got a seventh at the worlds but when it’s not based on points then it is always hard to say.” Said Piasecki.

While the Polish pair rose to the top of the Men’s Skiff with one more day of Gold fleet racing to go before Saturday’s Medal Races, Norway’s new European Champions, Helene Naess and Marie Ronnigen extended their cushion in the lead of the Women’s Skiff, the FX. They count a 3,1,5 from their four races today.

“We had three good ones that one very bad race when the wind disappeared and we ended up on the wrong side of the course. But we are still leading so that is fine. We have been here 11 times now and have been second here before so here is hoping….this is a good regatta for our preparations.” Enthused Naess.

Starting nerves show
ILCA Australian Mara Stransky maintained her lead in the ILCA 6 event counting a 16th from the second race as Hungary’s new European champion Maria Ertl proved the most consistent of the title contenders in another fleet which again saw many land one good result and one bad. In the ILCA After two general recalls Britain’s Micky Beckett pushed too hard on the first start and landed a BFD but his overall margin at the top of the Gold fleet is a very tidy 14 points over Germany’s past world champion Philipp Buhl.

Poised behind Buhl is Australian Olympic champion Matt Wearn, who is now 14 points behind the German. Buhl reported "The winds were light and quite shifty, the wind strength pulsating, sometimes more, sometimes less, not rhythmic, difficult to predict. That's why I'm very happy with my results. On a day like today, there is about 30 to 40 per cent unpredictability. On normal days, it's more like ten per cent. If you then manage to be alert and very focused you can determine the other 60 to 70 per cent."

Standout so far
Excluding discard, the best scoreline at the regatta is that of Poland’s iQFOiL event leader Pawel Tarnowski who has only six points from eight races so far to lead by five points. The women’s iQFOiL event has Norway’s Maya Gysler still dominating.

Five times world champion Daniela Moroz (USA), leader of the Formula Kite event is – like most of her top rivals - using the regatta as something of a training, testing and fine tuning regatta as she seeks to deliver on high expectations as favourite to win gold as kite foiling debuts at the Olympics. Her leading scoreline is composed only of top three finishes and from 15 starts counts nine race wins. Her counterpart in the Men’s Formula Kite, Singapore’s Max Maeder is not so dominant and leads by three points. But in the kite class everything is only down to winning one Final race. 

Moroz reported, “Today was pretty tricky as the wind was changing all the time and so you had to keep looking and adjusting your strategy, so it was really good practise to have these conditions where it is not so consistent and it really keeping you on your toes. I am trying out a few different strategies here and really using it as practice for the Games, that is what is on everyone’s minds, prepping as best as possible. This is kind a training regatta, trying out some new equipment and new strategies and so on. For me who has been in this sport since the beginning, I have been kiting for ten years, the prospect is so exciting. And we are the fastest Olympic sport!”

The 53 Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofía Mallorca by Iberostar, the first scoring event for the Sailing World Cup 2024, 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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