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3 April 2012, 08:29 pm
Olympic Qualification Battles Add Spice To Trofeo S.A.R. Princess Sofia MAPFRE
Close Calls On Day Two
Close Calls On Day Two

Trofeo S.A.R. Princess Sofia MAPFRE
Palma, Spain

A number of key London 2012 Olympic qualification battles is adding an extra spice in the life of sailors at the 2012 Trofeo S.A.R. Princess Sofia MAPFRE, the third of seven ISAF Sailing World Cup Regattas.
A southerly breeze at 7 knots which built to 10 towards the middle of the afternoon made racing tricky, but in the Women's 470 fleet day one leaders Sophie Weguelin and Sophie Ainsworth kept their lead and hold a narrow advantage over Poland's Agnieszka Skrzypulec and Jolanta Ogar.

The Polish girls are aiming for London 2012 and if they continue like they are, they may spring a surprise, "We are very happy with our form here," they said, "our objective is to finish in the top ten and we have to maintain this level. This is important for our Olympic selection even if we still have to qualify the country in the next World's."

Emmanuelle Rol and Hélène Defrance (FRA), aiming for the French Women's 470 spot, stay in third after winning the first race and collecting big points in the second. Australian pair Elise Rechichi and Belinda Stowell took the second bullet to place seventh overall.

World #5, David Evans and Edward Powys (GBR) added two more bullets to their score to take the lead in the 49er class, "Our objective is to be top 3 and first British. Racing was tricky today with different pressure over the course so we are happy with our results so far." They are on equal points with Danish Jonas Warrer and Soren Hansen.

Early leader Peter Krüger Andersen and Nicolai Thorsell (DEN) suffered from the day's difficult conditions to fall from first to 15th.

For both top teams these results mean a lot as Palma is playing a role in their Olympic selection. The Trofeo S.A.R. Princess Sofia MAPFRE is one of a series of observation events for the British but for the Danes, good results could mean a ticket for London.

"This regatta is very important for us," commented Jonas Warrer and Soren Hansen, "If we keep sailing like that we have a good chance to be selected for the Games. Today we had good racing especially in the last two races. Good start and speed. We need to keep sailing like that until the end."

Ben Ainslie (GBR) has taken the lead in the Finn class after a near perfect day with a victory and a second place. Happy about his results, the Olympic champion explained, "The day couldn't have gone better but it was hard work out there. The weather was tricky with different pressures. This is not the expected Palma conditions." Daniel Birgmark (SWE) is second overall in front of early leader Jonas Hogh-Christensen (DEN) in third.

The 2.4 were the first class to finish racing. After four races Thierry Schmitter (NED) is the new leader after winning Race 3 and placing third in the second race of the day, won by Bjornar Erikstad (NOR).

"We had very light conditions for the second day in a row. But steady enough to have fair racing in the 2.4mR. After winning the Trofeo three times, the only objective is to win it a fourth time. But in an Olympic year, the competition is at its best, so it will be very hard this year to win it again,"
explained Schmitter.

Hamish Pepper and Jim Turner (NZL) have taken the lead in the Star class. After a difficult day on the water, early leaders Xavier Rohart and Pierre Alexis Ponsot (FRA) and the Polish Matieusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki drop out of the top ten. Races went to Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson (GBR) and Austrians Hans Spitzauer and Gerd Habermüller.

The Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mapfre is the first event for Percy and Simpson since the ISAF Worlds where they had to abandon due to Percy's back problems. "We started the week pretty badly," explained Percy. "In our first race yesterday we decided the five minute gun was the ten minute, and the ten minute was five - basically just complete confusion... In the rest of the races we've had some ups and downs, but some reasonably solid races. It's very shifty and difficult wind."

Pierre Leboucher and Vincent Garos (FRA) continue to hold top position in the Men's 470, but the day belonged to Gideon Kliger and Eran Sela (ISR) who had a perfect day with two bullets to climb to fifth place. They are only five points from the leaders. Alvaro Marinho and Miguel Nunes (POR) are in second place, one point ahead of Greece's Panagiotis Kampouridis and Efstathios Papadopoulos.

After narrowly missing out on a medal at the ISAF Worlds in Perth, Simon Grotelueschen (GER) is back in good form taking the lead of the Laser event in Palma. Australian Tom Burton takes second place overall after placing second and winning a race. European Champion Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) makes the most of the day by taking two bullets and climbing to 9th position.

Racing in the Laser radial saw some upsets today. During the first race of the Yellow group, the race was shortened but about 40 sailors went to the wrong mark. As a result, only six sailors completed the race while the rest collected a disqualification. Current World Champion Marit Bouwmeester (NED) is in the lead after a good day where she placed third and first. Alicia Cebrian (ESP) conserves her second place after racing consistently.

At the Yacht Club de Palma, the Women match racing are continuing racing in order to complete their round robin and are not expected to finish until late in the day.

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