Embat day in the Bay of Palma
A time to shine as the seabreeze lights up the 52 Troefo Princesa Sofia
A day when the local Embat sea breeze came in on cue at 12-13kts allowed Mallorca’s showcase 52 Trofeo Princesa Sofia to complete qualifying series for all classes, allowing tomorrow’s Finals to be contested on schedule to decide who will compete in Saturday’s titles decider.
The Bay of Palma was back to its sparkling best; speed, power and manoeuvres being tested today much more than the ability to read the changing breezes which prevailed through the two opening days.
For the top seeds, the preliminary, qualifying series are often little more than a warm up for the Finals and the medal deciding contests. But with the added pressure of Olympic selection looming as well as the vagaries of the breezes on the first days, it has not all been plain sailing for the big names.
In the Men’s iQFOiL foiling windsurfer fleet France’s Nico Goyard, double European Champion and 2021 World Champion has to consistently prove his superiority against a very strong French contingent to be sure of test event selection.
Going afloat today with a BFD disqualification hanging over him might have unsettled the hard driving, super focused Goyard, but he responded with four back-to-back bullets and a third to lead the class.
Coming from a pro windsurfing- foiling background the Olympic journey to a potential ‘home’ Games is all new to Goayrd. And while other top sailors like the German 470s and the Italian Nacra 17s trust their training in a largely national squad set up, there are two Men’s iQFOiL French camps one led by Goyard and the other by Pierre Le Coq.
Goyard, who grew up in New Caledonia, recalled today, “With a BFD on the ranking - which I felt was harsh - I said that I did not want to talk about it but to just go out and have the best day, which I managed to do, winning four races and having a third in the last one. So it was an amazing day, good speed and good laylines. I made sure I was safe on the starts.”
Clearly this is a vital event for the French, "As almost every other nation here it is a big part of selection for us that is all I can say. Mentally and physically I have prepared perfectly, I am ready, the gear is ready I have been here since March and before that in Lanzarote, all building up to this. I have been here 20 days training which was very useful as I managed to get to know the place well.”
And the small, hand picked team situation works for him at the moment, “We have a good little team together with my brother, Tom Arnoux and a Brazilian guy Matteus (Isaac). On the human side we get on and want to train together, over and above the level is the human side of it, wanting to go on the water and to enjoy it together. That is important and our coach Julien is very much part of our team.”
The contrasting approach is also evidently working in the gold standard Nacra 17 Italian camp, where the Olympic and World Champions Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti, conclusive winners here last year, go into the Finals in third, three points behind compatriots Vittorio Bissaro and Maelle Frascari, the ‘other Italians’.
And all three top Italian contenders challenging for their 2024 Paris places are in the top four, joined in second by GBR’s Tokyo silver medallists John Gimson and Anna Burnett who trained in Cagliari with the Italians in the winter.
Bissario and Frascari scored three wins today to lead the class, the helm enthusing on the beach in Arenal, “I can’t remember any other time when we have managed to have a day like today,”
Gianluigi Ugolini, helm of the third placed team explains their training set up, “We have a big possibility to train together, and you can see the results here so far. Four teams in the top four from our training group. We go out sailing together, we train together on the water, but we don’t share technical information, we don’t share numbers and things like this. We only share the sensation of how the boat is feeling. So we are working together, but we are not sharing everything.”
Asked about their actual selection process Vittorio Bissaro smiles enigmatically, “Well, we don't know to be honest. We have no mathematical trials, just a matter of observation by the Federation. Probably the trials started four years ago! But really, I don't know anything more than this.”
France flying high in the kites
France lead both the Formula Kite classes, Hyeres Axel Mazella winning five of his six heats today while Hyeres clubmate Lauriane Nolot has 5 wins from eight to lead the Women’s field.
As ever for the dinghy classes it is in Finals series where the level really steps up and the cream rises. In the 49erFX class the reigning World Champions from the Netherlands set out their stall after enjoyed a stellar day, scoring 2,3,1,2 across four races. “We had really nice conditions, a good sea breeze building, and we managed to piece everything together well today,” said the ever-smiling Odile van Aanholt, who continues to enjoy a strong partnership with Olympic bronze medallist Annette Duetz.
Best moment of the day for the Dutch was when they saw an opportunity for a brave but risky port tack start across the front of the fleet. It’s a high-danger manoeuvre, but it worked, and launched the Dutch into an early advantage. “We were saying, ‘Oooh, do we do it, do we not do it?’ But we did it and we managed to cross the fleet quite easily. It’s the best feeling, something that doesn’t happen every often. A little bit naughty, but sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty!”
In the ILCA 7 Class the 2021 World Champion Germany’s Philipp Buhl came back from a black flag to record a 1,3 to lie second whilst Australia’s Olympic champion Matt Wearn drops to 11th after a BFD also. GBR’s Daniel Whitely has no counting score worse than second and so leads the Men’s fleet which has only managed five races over the first three days of racing.
In the ILCA 6 fleet the leader is USA’s Charlotte Rose with three times Olympic medallist Marit Bouwmeester of the Netherlands poised in third. Denmark’s Tokyo gold medallist Anne-Marie Rindom, winner here in 2019 ahead of Bouwmeester, goes into the Finals in 15th place.
“The first race I didn’t manage to where I wanted to and it cost me but the second race was better and I nailed it. We dream about the conditions we had today, 15kts and full hiking. And the fleet is tougher than ever with a lot new younger girls coming up.” reported the Danish sailor.
The Finals Series for the dinghy classes run Friday with all of the medal deciding races due on Saturday.
The 52 Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofía Mallorca by Iberostar is the first qualifying event for the Sailing World Cup 2023 and will be held from 29 March to 8 April under the joint organisation of 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 backing of World Sailing and the main Balearic public institutions. It is funded by the European Union Next Generation EU, the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan and the Balearic Islands Tourism Strategy Agency.