52 Trofeo Princesa Sofía Mallorca

52 Trofeo Princesa Sofía Mallorca

World Sailing: the storm before the calm?


03/04/2023 - 07:05

After many weeks of ‘champagne sailing’ during training sessions and warm-up regattas, the start of the Trofeo Princesa Sofía looks like it is going to herald a big change of conditions. Shifting breeze as the wind blows over the tops of the hotels and apartment blocks from the shore will make it a trickier, less predictable race course. That won’t make the sailing or the racing any less valid, just very different to what the competitors might have expected based on recent experience.

There is a big sense of anticipation around the different boat parks, from S’Arenal in the south to Ca’n Pastilla 6km further north, closer to the city centre of Palma. With more than 1,300 sailors gathered from 67 nations around the world, along with 1,000 boats and boards, the logistics of organising such a large and complex event are immense.

There is a lot riding on getting it right, too, the organisers working hard to make sure the competition is truly world class. For some sailors, like three-time Olympic medallist Santiago Lange (ARG), this is the start of his selection trials to find out who will go to Paris 2024 to represent Argentina at the Games. Having only sailed with crew Vicky Travascio in the highly demanding Nacra 17 foiling catamaran for just over a year, despite all his world-beating experience Lange admits he is playing catch-up. When he shrugs and grins, “It’s just another Olympic trials,” everyone in Palma knows there is no such thing as ‘just another Olympic trials’. For these sailors, this is their whole lives. They eat, drink, sleep and breathe sailboat racing with every fibre of their finely honed bodies. This stuff matters.

52 Trofeo Princesa Sofía Mallorca
52 Trofeo Princesa Sofía Mallorca

For others, like reigning 49er World Champions Bart Lambriex & Floris van der Werken (NED), Princess Sofia is an important regatta worth winning in its own right. But they don’t have the additional pressures that others like the Argentinians have, thinking about their place at the Games. The Dutch duo were out training in the big wind and waves of Sunday, although even they retrieved their powerful gennaker back into its chute on the way back downwind. Normally they’d be ‘sending it’, going all out to push the boat as hard as possible. But a big pitchpole and potential boat-breaking capsize so soon before the regatta wouldn’t have been great preparation. Which is why a lot of teams didn’t go on the water at all. Instead they chose to spend the day doing boat work or just plain relaxing rather than putting bodies and equipment on the line just before the regatta.

For most of the sailors not yet launched into their Olympic selection process, they can enjoy the Trofeo Princesa Sofía for what it is, one of the pinnacle events of the Olympic sailing calendar. After a long winter of training, it’s just plain good fun to line up against the best in the world and go racing in the Mediterranean, while the early-season holidaymakers look on from the many bars and restaurants ranged along the seafront between S’Arenal and Ca’n Pastilla.

52 Trofeo Princesa Sofía Mallorca
52 Trofeo Princesa Sofía Mallorca

Day One of racing is a packed schedule, although Tuesday will be even busier once all 10 Olympic events come into play. For Monday, here’s the order of play:

1100 hours

iQFOiL Men, 4 races for Yellow and Blue Fleets

1200 hours

470 Mixed, 2 races for Yellow and Blue Fleets
ILCA 7 Men, 2 races for Yellow, Blue and Red Fleets
ILCA 6 Women, 2 races for Yellow and Blue Fleets

1230 hours

iQFOiL Women, 4 races for Yellow and Blue Fleets

The Trofeo Princesa Sofía finished with a breezy spectacle
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