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5 April 2009, 09:33 pm
ALABAU And SIBELLO Brothers Clean Up On Opening Day At Palma
The 49ers get their races underway
The 49ers get underway on the opening day in Palma

Trofeo SAR Princesa Sofia MAPFRE 2009
Palma de Majorca, Spain

Marina ALABAU in the Women's RS:X class and Pietro and Gianfranco SIBELLO in the 49er made faultless starts, winning all of their races on the first day of the Trofeo SAR Princess Sofia MAPFRE, third event of the ISAF Sailing World Cup,
The 800 plus competitors gather in Palma, Spain were granted light and stable winds, allowing great racing in all 10 classes competing on the Bay of Palma.

Marina ALABAU (ESP) in the Women's RS:X class and Pietro SIBELLO (ITA) with his brother Gianfranco SIBELLO in the 49er, had a faultless start winning all of their races.

Marina ALABAU (ESP), leader of the ISAF World Sailing Rankings, has started her post-Olympic year with a series of regatta victories, including the second ISAF Sailing World Cup event, the Rolex Miami OCR and the South American Championship. She continues on her good form with two bullets collected in a very talented fleet.

"I'm happy because I've seen the results of all the physical training I did for the Olympics. Before, the light winds weren't my favourite conditions and today I've won the first race, in which we had low winds [6-8 knots]. The level here is very high, we're are all here, but you can see that people are more relaxed after the Olympics," declared ALABAU.

The Spaniard has a small three point lead over French windsurfer Eugénie RICARD, who is second overall after scoring a second and a third.

The Trofeo SAR Princess Sofia MAPFRE marks the return to international sailing for the SIBELLO brothers, Pietro SIBELLO and Gianfranco SIBELLO (ITA), in the 49er class. Ranked #2 in the world, the Italian team excelled in today's light conditions to take three bullets. However, their outstanding performance only place them three points ahead of British pair of John PINK and Rick PEACOCK who collected top three scores.

Elsewhere in the 49er fleet, class newcomers didn't prove to be a threat yet! Multiple Tornado Olympic medallist and World Champion Darren BUNDOCK from Australia with current 49er World Champion Ben AUSTIN as crew, are placed 32nd despite a promising first race when the new pair placed 10th! This was their first races together and in a 49er for BUNDOCK.

It was a similar fate for Pim NIEUWENHUIS (NED) who went from Tornado crew to 49er helm with new partner Ferdinand VAN WEST.

"This is the first time I am at the helm since the Optimist!" explained NIEUWENHUIS before racing. "I sailed a 49er as a crew between 2000 and 2006. This is totally different but real fun! We have sailed may be five times together and this is our first event, so we don't have any expectations!"

The Dutch team passed the test today with a third in the first race and an overall position of 13 in a fleet of 50 boats!

470 Junior World Champions have proven their ability at senior level in both men and women fleets! Steven LE FEVRE and Steven KROL (NED) have mastered the conditions in a strong 76-boat fleet. They won the first race and placed second in the following. In the women's fleet, Hannah MILLS and Katrina HUGHES (GBR) ended the day with a victory. An 18th place in the first race bring them in ninth position overall while the regatta lead goes to Penny CLARK and Saskia CLARK (GBR).

The Star class is back this year at the Yacht Club de Palma, shared with the Dragon sailors. Mark MENDELBLATT and Mark STRUBE from the USA and German team of Robert STANJEK and Markus KOY won a race each with the Germans taking the lead on equal points with class newcomers, Johannes POLGAR and Tim KROGER (GER). This most unusual pair have opposite backgrounds! POLGAR competed in the Tornado over the last ten years while KROGER has shared his time between the Volvo Ocean Race around the world and two America's Cup, one with the French Défi Areva and another with South Africa's Shosholoza!

"We really enjoyed the light and sunny conditions today", says POLGAR, "We are still some 12kg underweight". The ex-Tornado skipper went from 68kg during the Olympics in China to 85kg! "I still need to add some and go to the gym!"

The new German Star team started last November but trained over the winter in Palma with the other German teams.

It's also a new start also for Carolijn BROUWER (BEL) who has initially chosen the Laser Radial for her next Olympic campaign. "I had not raced the Radial for 16 years! It is hard to get back to it, but I am glad we had these light conditions. It is a big change compare with the Tornado, but probably easier tactically, now I have time to think before taking a decision!!" she explained.

With a seventh and a ninth, BROUWER places sixth overall while team mate Laura MAES (BEL) is in second position two points from Paige RAILEY (USA). The American is coming back in top form winning the first race and placing fourth in the next. Beijing gold medallist Anna TUNNICLIFFE (USA) had a slower start in the event but makes it to the top ten in ninth overall.

It was a Dutch affair in the 2.4mR with André RADEMAKER (NED) taking two bullets in front of Paralympic medallist Thierry SCHMITTER (NED), while Barend KOL (NED) is placed third.

Tonci STIPANOVIC (CRO) leads the 134 Laser sailors, divided in three fleets. With racing starting at 14:00, they were the last off the water.

It was tight racing among the Men's RS:X windsurfers. Fabian HEIDEGGER (ITA) and Shahar ZUBARI (ISR) share the lead on equal points, while the rest of the top ten are within close reach.

Michael MAIER (CZE) and Andrew MILLS (GBR) took a race each in the Finn class. Young Finnish sailor Tapio NIRKKO raced consistently to place first overall after scoring a fifth and a second place.

The Trofeo SAR Princess Sofia MAPFRE is the first major event in the Finn class for ex-Laser sailor, Deniss KARPAK (EST). The Estonian had a good start in the Finn, but unfortunately a disqualification in the second race sent him from fourth to 24th.

Racing continues tomorrow with starts at 11:00 on Monday for the 49ers and 12:00 for the other classes. The competition in Palma carries on throughout the week, concluding with the decisive Medal Races on Friday 10 April.

ISAF Sailing World Cup

The ISAF Sailing World Cup 2008-2009 consists of the following events:

16-21 Dec 2008 - Sail Melbourne The Asia Pacific Regatta, Melbourne, Australia
25-31 Jan 2009 - Rolex Miami OCR, Miami, USA
4-10 April 2009 - Trofeo SAR Princess Sofia MAPFRE, Palma, Spain
18-24 April 2009 - Semaine Olympique Francaise, Hyeres, France
27-31 May 2009 - Delta Lloyd Regatta, Medemblik, Netherlands
20-29 June 2009 - Kieler Woche, Kiel, Germany
14-19 Sept 2009 - Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta, Weymouth, Great Britain

Find out more about the ISAF Sailing World Cup, including more on the seven events, the latest World Cup Standings, the scoring system and the Notice of Series at

Corinne Rolland-McKenzie
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