Olympic champions won in just two of the ten classes competing at Mallorca’s biggest ever Trofeo Princesa Sofia Iberostar Olympic classes which finished in a blast of strong winds today.
As the overall trophy for this 50th anniversary edition went to China’s up and coming Yue Tan in a light RS:X Women’s fleet in which there were no medallists competing – it goes to the sailor with the lowest points average over their race series - Britain’s gold medal winning helm Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre won today’s blustery medal race to secure the 470 Women title by 27 points. Brasil’s Olympic champions Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze prevailed in the FX.
At 15 months out from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic regatta the first major Olympic classes regatta this season in Europe drew a record 869 boats sailed by 1224 sailors from 67 different nations. For many countries it was a key event for selection, some for a place at this year’s test event, for other Olympic nations whose strategy is to select as early as possible, this was an actual Olympic selection event.
If the six days of racing, contested across a wide range of wind conditions – from 5 knots at the start to more than 25 today – are a measure of current strength and depth of Olympic potential, Great Britain proved they are in good shape, winning eight medals, more than twice the three medals tally of the next most successful countries, New Zealand and USA who won three apiece.
The hugely popular annual event came started in light winds Monday but saw Medal Races for the Nacra 17, FX and 49ers thwarted by strong winds and big seas. Although the forecast was for the 20-25kts breezes to ease in the afternoon, if anything they strengthened and only the Finn, Lasers and RS:X classes completed spectacular, muscular medal races.
Passing one boat on the final leg of the medal showdown was enough to secure a first major regatta title in the Laser class for the USA’s Christopher Barnard. The sailor from Newport Beach, Calif. lead into the medal race which was won by GBR’s Eliot Hanson who finished runner up ahead of his two times World Champion compatriot Nick Thompson.
Barnard misses out on US selection to the test event to fifth placed Charlie Buckingham – their selection is aggregated over Miami and Palma - but was pleased to round out his regatta win.
“I'm extremely happy, relieved and emotionally exhausted.” Grinned Barnard, “This is by far the biggest regatta I've won. I've been happy with the way I've sailed all week and today I showed a really good fight. That's probably what I'm most proud of.”
“All week I sailed really consistently to put myself in a strong position going into another race and it definintely didn't start according to plan. Big breeze like today has never been my strongest condition but it's been a work in progress.”
“Charlie will go to the test event. For myself I'm disappointed with Miami, I didn't finish very well. I did everything I needed to do here to have a good result, but Charlie earned that spot, He sailed two really consistent events. So I will work hard to keep on improving and focus on our Olympic Trials.”
If this Sofia Iberostar was Barnard’s maiden Olympic classes regatta win, Denmark’s Olympic bronze medallist Anne-Marie Rindom was back on very familiar territory and retained the Laser Radial title she won here last year. But the charismatic Dane admitted she has been under the weather, suffering from a stomach upset which has all but drained her energy. Even so she kept Holland’s Olympic champion Marit Bouwmeester four points astern. Erika Reineke won her first Olympic classes medal in Europe with bronze.
Rindom commented: “Today was a crazy day! There was a lot of wind, having been sick it made it made it really hard because the power was not there. It means a lot to win here. I love sailing here in big waves and different conditions. It's definitely a good start to my season, in Miami we had some light wind and here it's been a little bit of everything which I really like, it prepares me for a great season. I don't know if I will go to the test event, we have trials and that is the Europeans and whoever does well there is going.”
Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre won the 470 Women’s title in perfect style, enhancing their overall margin with a comfortable victory in the Medal Race. Of her first ever win at this the regatta Olympic champion Millls said: “It's been a really long week. The racing has been super-tough. We had a really big fleet here all on one start line so every race you had to put your best foot forward and get a result. It was about consistency and we managed to do that.”
New Zealand’s Finn sailor Andy Maloney had finish within two places of GBR’s Olympic champion Giles Scott if he was to lift the Sofia Iberostar. As Scott sailed to win the medal race, Maloney took third, securing gold with his New Zealand team mate Josh Junior in third.
Maloney said: I was mid-pack and had to fight my way back to within a couple of places of him to secure the gold. I was about six or seventh at the gate, but sailed a few nice shifts up the second beat, so it was a pretty full on race with lots going on.”
On winning, “It’s awesome to win. It’s been a really good week, really consistent from Josh and myself, and to both be up there at the beginning of the season is really cool.”
“The level is really, really high now. Everyone is sailing the boats really well and to get a gain in any sort of wind range is quite hard to come by so it’s really tough racing.”
With no racing for the Nacra 17 or the FX the titles went to Australia’s Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin and Brasil’s Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze. 470 winners Anton Dahlberg and Frederik Bergstrom of Sweden, and Dylan Fletcher and Stu Bithell in the 49ers had already secure their overall wins yesterday.
Nacra 17 winner Waterhouse said: “This is the first stop for the European season, a real confidence-booster and we're three wins in a row now so we're pretty happy. We didn't do anything special but we're consistent each day. We never won the day but we had good days. The fleet is so competetive, everyone is so up there and just trying to stay in the top eight. A lot of people underestimate just keeping the points low, you don't need to win races just stay consistent. In terms of wind range we don't have a wheelhouse, our results were really consistent through all wind ranges which we're really pleased about.”
“It was really close going into the race today and I just wanted to stick close to him, and see if I could slow him down and put us at the back, and not enable him to get an opportunity to put that many boats between us. I started just up on his hip and managed to hold him out to the port layline. And when he came at me I tried dialing down and got a penalty on him but unfortunately that got green flagged. We were coming in on the port layline and I was trying to slow him down a bit, but I made a bit of a meal of that and he managed to roll me and got himself back into the race. On top of that the wind went left on the beat, so we were still in the race after going quite slowly up the left side.”
“Then it was all on from there and I was mid-pack and had to fight me way back to within a couple of places of him to secure the gold. I was about six or seventh at the gate, but sailed a few nice shifts up the second beat, so it was a pretty full on race with lots going on.”
On winning, “It’s awesome. It’s been a really good week. Really consistent from Josh and myself, and to both be up there at the beginning of the season is really cool. We are looking forward to the rest of the season. For now we go home for a few weeks and then come back for the Europeans.”
On the level. “The level is really, really high now. Everyone is sailing the boats really well and to get a gain in any sort of wind range is quite hard to come by so it’s really tough racing.”