Olympic season accelerates in Europe

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With nearly half the countries at the Rio 2016 Games based in Europe, the start of the season for the 10 Olympic events is launched at Trofeo SAR Princesa Sofía Iberostar which has drawn a record fleet of 869 boats to the Bay of Palma in Majorca, Spain.

With racing from April 1 to 6, the 50th anniversary of this event has attracted 1,224 sailors from 67 different nations which will competed over eight race areas administered from the sailing clubs the Club Nautico S’Arenal and the Club Marítimo San Antonio de la Playa.

Nine out of the ten current Olympic World champions will compete in Palma, but they will need to overcome the local weather patterns which are notoriously tricky to master and a long term forecast that includes everything from sun to rain, and big breeze to gentle puffs.

More so, with the Tokyo 2020 Olympics just 16 months away, time is running short to present the elite performance needed for selection to the Games and the right to stand on the podium.

As usual, the Laser Standard and Radial classes have registered the highest entry which includes
Cyprus sailor Pavlos Kontides, 2017 and 2018 World campion and 2012 Olympic silver medallist at the London 2012 Olympics. In the Laser Radial, the favourite are Dutch sailor Marit Bouwmeester, Olympic gold medallist the 2016 Rio Games and Belgian sailor Emma Plasschaert, the current class World champion.

The 49er fleet has 108 entries, making it the largest 49er fleet ever seen at an international event. All eyes will be set on Croations Sime and Mihovil Fantela, the reigning world champions, as they face the return of Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) who had taken a break after winning four world titles and the Rio 2016 gold medal.

In the 49er FX, Annemiek Bekkering and Annete Duetz from the Netherlands will defend their title as Sofía Iberostar champions. The Dutch team are also the current class World champions.

The Italian Nacra 17 team of Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti seek to continue their 2018 dominance when they claimed victory at the Sofía Iberostar as well as at the European and World championships.

In 470 men, a close battle is expected to be seen with French team Kevin Peponnet and Mion Peremie as rivals to be beaten as current class World campions. Teams such as Mat Belcher and Will Ryan from Australia – the current Sofia Iberostar absolute winners – or Spanish sailors Jordi Xammar and Nicolás Rodríguez, bronze medallists at the Aarhus 2018 World Sailing Championships, are also firm candidates to claim victory in the class.

The three teams on the podium at the last 470 women World championship will race at the Sofía Iberostar. Ai Kondo and Miho Yoshikoa from Japan, Silvia Mas and Patricia Cantero from Spain and British team Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre will attract all attention in their battle for the title in Mallorca.

The Finn fleet will also have three medallists from the Olympic Classes World Championship held last summer in Aarhus. Hungarian sailor Zsombor Berecz claimed gold with only four point difference over Swedish competitor Max Salminen, who won silver only two points ahead of bronze medallist, Dutch sailor Pieter-Jan Postma. However, Giles Scott from Great Britain will attract much attention as 4-time world titlist and current Sofia Iberostar champion.

The RS:X men and women fleets face the Mallorca regatta as a test event for the Class Europeans to be held in Club Nàutic S’Arenal from April 8 to 13. The current women World champion, Dutch sailor Liliana De Geus, who was also the winner of the 2018 Sofía Iberostar, will be the main rival together with Japanese sailor Peina Chen and Spanish competitor Blanca Manchón.

In the RS:X men, the Spanish fleet, with sailors Ángel Granda and Sergi Escandell, is expected to be one of the strong nations in the Mallorca regatta.

Event details – Entry list – Facebook

North American Entries (Canada, Mexico, and USA):
• 470 Men: Stuart McNay/ David Hughes (USA).
• 470 Women: Kathleen Tocke/ Charlie Bess, Nikole Barnes/ Lara Dallman-Weiss, Carmen Cowles/ Emma Cowles, Atlantic Brugman/ Nora Brugman (USA).
• 49er Men: William Jones/ Evan Depaul (CAN); Nevin Snow/ Dane Wilson, Harry Melges/ Finn Rowe, Judge Ryan/ Hans Henken, Andrew Mollerus/ Ian MacDiarmid, Ian Barrows/ Joseph Kiss (USA).
• 49erFX Women: Alexandra Ten Hove/ Mariah Millen (CAN); Stephanie Roble/ Margaret Shea, Kate Shaner/ Charlotte Mack, Paris Henken/ Anna Tobias (USA).
• Finn: Tom Ramshaw, Kyle Martin (CAN); Eric Anderson, Caleb Paine, Jack Jennings, Luke Muller (USA).
• Laser Men: Forrest Wachholz, Robert Davis, Justin Norton, Norman Struthers, Luke Ruitenberg, Hugh Macrae (CAN); Juan Ignacio Perez Soltero, Yanic Gentry (MEX); Marek Zaleski, Malcolm Lamphere, Charlie Buckingham, Chris Barnard, Paul Didham (USA).
• Laser Radial Women: Clara Gravely, Coralie Vittecoq, Maura Dewey, Sarah Douglas (CAN); Christine Sakellaris, Erika Reineke, Paige Railey, Hanne Weaver, Lillian Myers (USA).
• Nacra 17 Mixed: Allie Surrette/ Max Flinn (CAN); Riley Gibbs/ Anna Weis, Bora Gulari/ Louisa Chafee, Ravi Parent/ Caroline Atwood, Sarah Newberry/ David Liebenberg (USA).
• RS:X Men: Ignacio Berenguer (MEX); Pedro Pascual (USA).
• RS:X Women: Mariana Aguilar, Cristina Ortiz Vivas (MEX); Farah Hall, Carolina Mendelblatt (USA).

Source: Trofeo SAR Princesa Sofía / sailingscuttlebutt

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