Road to Tokyo 2020 goes through Palma

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Majorca, Spain (April 2, 2019) – It was another challenging day for the 50th anniversary edition of the Trofeo Princesa Sofia IBEROSTAR as fickle winds continued for the ten Olympic classes on the Bay of Palma.

While the event offers a perfect kick start to the Olympic classes season in Europe, it also serves as a touchstone for year-on-year progress. This time last year, the French womens 470 duo Camille Lecointre and Aloise Retornaz were a new partnership, helm Lecointre having won a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics with Helene Defrance.

They have proven the 470s’ most consistent duo so far, counting a first and two seconds over the first four races for the 45 strong fleet and lead by seven points with Britain’s gold medallist Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre in third.

“We like these conditions and I think we are fast,” explains Lecointre, who went from fourth in London 2012 to medal in Rio. “We get good starts and that is the most important thing here in this fleet. We are quite confident.

“We were a new team here last year and I feel like we are on a good track to medal in Tokyo. Here we are working on small things, the main thing being to get more experience in the medal race with Aloise as we have only done a few.

“We are still new and have only done the medal races in Palma and Aarhus, and this year in Miami. We need to learn to manage the medal race and if we can be just a little faster in all conditions we are in good shape for a medal.”

Lecointre thinks it is a good thing that the 470 moves to mixed sex event after Tokyo 2020. “It fits with the boat and we all know that the 470 is such a great boat we wish it would be in the Olympics forever. But we have to be realistic and it is good for the class. But I am a mum now so we will see how I get on in Tokyo before I think beyond that!”

Palma is a good yardstick of progress for the young Spanish 470 duo Jordi Xammer and Nico Rodriguez. Xammer was 12th in Rio and teamed up with Rodriguez late in 2017. In 2018 they were 14th in Miami and 16th here on the Bay of Palma last year. One year on, after taking bronze in Aarhus, they won the Miami World Cup and still lead the Mens 470 class after four races, counting two firsts and a second place.

“Here we are out to prove Miami was no fluke,” reports helm Xammer. “We are really happy because we feel good as a team, we are performing well and we are doing a great job with our new coach (Gideon Kliger, Israel’s three times 470 Olympian). We’ve created a good working routine and now we are just focused on the Olympics.

“We know that we need to keep improving as a team, learning as much. Compared to the last Trofeo Sofia, we’ve made a huge change. Step by step we are growing but we know that anything can change at anytime. Last season was hard for us and now, even with the good results, we know that we need to be ready for any setback.

“The experience of Rio 2016 is a big help as we prepare for Tokyo 2020. I know what to expect, what to think and how to act. Rio 2016 was a dream for us but now we have the medals as a realistic goal for Tokyo 2020. The goal is to get to Tokyo in good shape and knowing we are ready to win a medal.”

Australia’s Kurt Hansen and Simon Hoffman hold the overall lead in the record sized 49er class, and with GBR’s 2017 World Champions Dylan Fletcher and Stu Bithell in second, the Brits are looking to cement selection to the Tokyo Olympic test event as soon as possible.

“The thing is that myself and Dylan are here to try and win regattas,” explains 470 silver medallist Bithell. “We figure if we do that then selection will take care of itself. The powers that be will decide.

“There are pros and cons to running strictly within a squad system. A squad is brilliant to bring on sailors but to then push over the hump, to be pushing for a gold medal, you need to be able to be a little bit selfish and run your own program with extreme efficiency.”

The strength and depth of young talent coming up in the 49er fleet reflects the appeal of the skiff class and, one supposes, a certain security on the Olympic roster.

New Zealand have three duos here with gold medallists Burling and Tuke who had a shaky 17-23 return to the class before winning their Race 3. France have nine crews, Germany have 12 crews, GBR eight duos, and the host nation Spain 11.

World champions Sime and Mihovil Fantela are 18th after scoring 18,1,11. “In the first and third races, we were too conservative,” admits Sime Fantela. “With the shifts and the pressure today you could not be conservative. But overall it is going well, we had a long stay in Miami and spent a long time training in Vilamoura, Generally we are in a good place.”

The model of national solidarity though is, not surprisingly, the Kiwis. America’s Cup winning Finn sailors Andy Maloney and Josh Junior train and race as a unit, as they have done since Laser squad days some ten years ago. Maloney, who won the Laser class here two years ago, leads the Finn class after winning three races from four with Junior third. Gold medallist Giles Scott is second.

“The first race I lead from start to finish,” Maloney reported. “In the second I had some work to do after the first upwind. We are aiming to have us both first and second at the end of the regatta but there is a long way to go.

“We have a really good relationship and help each other out, to be one and two. Hopefully one of us will watch the other winning a medal at the Games. That is what we want to achieve. We did heaps of training at home, mostly just the two of us but we went to Australia with the Aussies there and the Brits, so it was good.”

Alex Maloney – Andy’s younger sister – and Molly Meech lead the 49erFX class. The 2016 silver medallists are tied on points with Brits Charlotte Dobson and Saskia Tidey. Norway’s Miami winner Herrmann Tomasgaard leads the Laser class from Ireland’s Finn Lynch.

Denmark’s Anne Marie Rindom, last year’s Palma winner, has the perfect four-wins-from-four to lead the Radial fleet and Italy’s World Champions Rugero Tanti and Caterina Banti lead the Nacra 17.

Racing continues tomorrow with stronger breeze forecast. Racing for the ten Olympic events is from April 1 to 6.

North American Results (Canada, Mexico, and USA):
Top ten or top position
• 470 Men (4 races): 39th Stuart McNay/ David Hughes (USA).
• 470 Women (4 races): 19th Nikole Barnes/ Lara Dallman-Weiss (USA).
• 49er Men (3 races): 4th Andrew Mollerus/ Ian MacDiarmid (USA)
• 49erFX Women (6 races): 11th Stephanie Roble/ Margaret Shea (USA).
• Finn (4 races): 25th Caleb Paine (USA).
• Laser Men (4 races): 6th Chris Barnard (USA), 8th Charlie Buckingham (USA).
• Laser Radial Women (4 races): 4th Erika Reineke (USA).
• Nacra 17 Mixed (6 races): 7th Riley Gibbs/ Anna Weis (USA).
• RS:X Men: (3 races): 17th Pedro Pascual (USA).
• RS:X Women: (3 races): 16th Cristina Ortiz Vivas (MEX).

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); Christina 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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