ILCA Palma titles decided as Beckett and Bouwmeester win with Day to Spare

ILCA Palma titles decided as Beckett and Bouwmeester win with Day to Spare

ILCA Palma titles decided as Beckett and Bouwmeester win with Day to Spare


07/04/2023 - 20:14

At the 52 Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mallorca by Iberostar on the Bay of Palma both the Men's and Women’s ILCA Class Sofia titles have been won even before Saturday’s Medal Race is sailed. Coming back from a maternity break Holland’s Marit Bouwmeester, who won the overall Princesa Sofía trophy in 2014, made a clear statement to the class as she carries a leading margin of 35 points into Saturday’s double points Medal Race for the top ten sailors.

Triple Olympic medal star Bouwmeester winning with a day to spare is less of a surprise than Britain’s Micky Beckett retaining the Men’s Plama title even before the Medal race, achieving the early victory leaving all three Tokyo medallists in his wake.  

“I have managed to stay consistent this week. I often struggle early season coming out of the winter but this pre season has been really good so far.” reflected Bouwmeester, “Coming here I really just did not know what to expect other than training has gone really well. Coming back from pregnancy and not having put in the hours the others have, you just don’t know what to expect. You don’t know what you can pull together, you don’t even really know if you can hold it together through eight straight days on the water, it is still tough to through long days on the water and so I am as happy with that. But this is such a competitive fleet and the differences are so small, you can’t read too much into it. But I am a long way short of full fitness, but it is always to start ahead of the fleet than be catching up. Now I hope I can put some more hours in. Physically I can improve, I struggle – with a kid – to even keep my weight up and of course you need to do that.” 

West Wales’ Beckett admits that his focus over past weeks and months has really on been repeating his 2022 win here, the first big international regatta victory of his career. And with no counting result worse than tenth over his series his mission is already accomplished. 

Keys to his consistency has been Beckett’s starting and first beat execution in a very big and very tight fleet and his ability to change gears across the different wind strengths of the week, rewards for the breadth of his winter training, where other World Champions like Germany’s Philipp Buhl and French training partner Jean Baptiste Bernaz, 2022 champions, have struggled at times.  

“When you see a video of our first mark rounding yesterday, for example, it is absolute chaos. The only way to deal with it is to be top five. To be a couple of seconds later you are history,  you are in he melee, you are in the mess and no matter how well you sail you really can’t get out the mess. It is so, so unforgiving in this fleet.” Beckett asserts, “I am happy I have put in so much work in these last four months leading up to this regatta. We have done three weeks here but trained with the Aussies and Kiwis and this proves that my training and methods were vaguely on the money.”  

Beckett missed out on selection for Tokyo 2020 in favour of Eliot Hanson but worked hard as a training partner, giving him a real insight into what he needs to achieve to make the Paris 2024 spot. “Four years ago I was not good enough but because of the one year delay for COVID I got so much valuable experience. In terms of selection other people will make what they want of this win. There was the pressure of expectation because I won before but I dealt with it.”  

Britain are also guaranteed a medal in the iQFOiL Men’s foiling windsurfing as leader Sam Sills passes direct to Saturday’s three rider final. Sills led both the iQFOiL Games in Lanzarote and the class at the subsequent Lanzarote International Regatta but missed out on gold both times. “I am super relieved to have won a medal but I am going all out to win.” grinned a bemused Sills after the thrilling last race today. So too Sills’ compatriot Emma Wilson is assured of a medal in the Women’s iQFOiL class.

In the Nacra 17 Vittorio Bissaro and Maelle Frascari’s (ITA) scores of 2,1,3 have put the Italians into an almost unassailable lead in the Nacra 17. The only team that can take the gold away from the Italians are Great Britain’s Jon Gimson and Anna Burnet who have slipped to 8 points off the lead. A very solid day for Gianluigi Ugolini and Maria Giubilei (ITA) has the young Italians in bronze medal position, although with a 12 point gap to Great Britain they’ll be hard pushed to climb a higher step of the podium. After their dominance of 2022, it will come as some relief to the rest of the fleet to see Italy’s Olympic Champions, Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti (ITA) in fourth overall and with only an outside chance of reaching the podium in Palma. 

Formula Kite Women 
“How come I win races when I’m running at 80 per cent and I crash when I’m pushing to 100 per cent?” Lauriane Nolot (FRA) asked herself, laughing at her own question. “There was something strange about the water today, maybe all the boats and jetskis out on the water, but it was easy to spin out and crash today.” Even so, the French rider has come through the final day of qualifying in the lead and earns her bye straight through to Saturday’s four-rider final. The same for Ellie Aldridge (GBR) in second. It’s new territory for six-time world champion Daniela Moroz (USA) who just missed out on a spot in the final by just two points to Aldridge. “I wanted to experience a semi-final at some point this season, and it’s come up earlier than I expected,” smiled the Californian. “It will be interesting to go through the semi tomorrow and hopefully I can make it to the final and we’ll see where things go from there.” 

By their own admission, Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) tend to be slow starters in high-level competitions, tending to save their best for last. “We take less risks in the first couple of days, so sometimes we miss out on opportunities,” said Grael. “But as the regatta moves on we take more risks if we need to.” The double Olympic Champions from Brazil haven’t need to risk too much, however, and their conservative approach now puts them in the lead and 11 points clear of the chasing pack. The Brazilians are going to be hard to catch, with the Medal Race more likely to focus on a battle for silver and bronze. Just 9 points separate four teams from Argentina, the Netherlands, Norway and the USA.  

Isaac McHardie and William McKenzie (NZL) were the only 49er team to keep all three of the scores inside the top 10 today. Their reward is to be wearers of the yellow bibs for Saturday’s Medal Race, although the other Kiwis who relinquish the leaders’ bibs - Logan Dunning Beck and Oscar Gunn - are only two points behind their teammates. Effectively this means they will be going into the Medal Race level pegging. It’s a ‘who beats who’ scenario for the New Zealanders. However, breathing down their necks, just a point behind Beck and Gunn are another high-performing team from today’s racing. Tom Burton and Max Paul (AUS) scored a 3,11,1 to lift themselves into bronze medal position. Burton, Laser Olympic Champion from Rio 2016, has been working hard to make the shift into doublehanded skiff sailing and this is a sign that his endeavours are beginning to bear fruit. 

470 Mixed 
The Japanese team, Keiju Okada and Miho Yoshioka, have one hand on the gold medal after scoring a 3rd place in the last 470 Mixed gold fleet race. This puts the Japanese 18 points clear of last year’s winners, local heroes Jordi Xammar and Nora Brugman (ESP). The only realistic chance of the Spanish overtaking the current leaders is if Xammar/ Brugman win the double-points Medal Race with the Japanese back in 10th and last place. More realistically the Spanish will be looking to defend the silver from Germany’s reigning World Champions, Luise Wanser and Philipp Autenrieth 5 points further back. 

Formula Kite Men 
If Max Maeder (SGP) were headed into a traditional Medal Race tomorrow, the Singaporean’s 13-point advantage would carry him a long way towards the gold medal. But the Medal Series format means that the 16-year-old will have to fight for his gold in the four-rider final. At least he has a bye straight through to the final, as does second-placed Connor Bainbridge (GBR). Axel Mazella (FRA) had led for much of the week but slips to fourth behind fellow Frenchman Max Nocher (FRA) in third overall. The French riders will be fighting out with the rest of the top 10 to see who joins Singapore and Great Britain in Saturday’s final.

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.

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