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8 April 2009, 11:20 pm
French 470s Star In Tricky Conditions At Palma
The 470s racing in Palma
The 470s race on the Bay of Palma

Trofeo SAR Princesa Sofia MAPFRE 2009
Palma de Majorca, Spain

The French 470 crews hit the front in both men's and women's fleets after making the most of tricky, shifty conditions on the fourth day of racing at the Trofeo SAR Princess Sofia MAPFRE, third event of the ISAF Sailing World Cup.
It was another long day in Palma. The wind expected from the southwest, came from the opposite direction in the morning. The race committee had to wait until mid-afternoon, while the sea breeze progressively lowered and changed for a northeasterly, to start racing. With big clouds over the bay, the pressure was uneven on the race course and made racing very tricky. These conditions produced new heat winners in most classes, reducing the lead of most favourites or producing new ones.

In the Men's 470 fleet, Beijing bronze medallist Nicolas CHARBONNIER with new crew Baptiste MEYER (FRA) hold on to their top position by one point after a mixed day. "The conditions were difficult today with shifts and different pressure on the course. We had a bad start in the first race," explained the French skipper.

The Trofeo SAR Princess Sofia MAPFRE marks the sailing debut of CHARBONNIER and MEYER as a team. MEYER was one of CHARBONNIER's coaches leading to the Olympic Games and had not competed in a dinghy for the last 12 years! "We are working on our speed, and are racing conservatively. We are very efficient under 15 knots so the conditions to date in Palma have suited us", says MEYER.

A race win brings the Swedish team of Anton DAHLBERG and Sebastian ÖSTLING from eighth to third overall, but the day's best improvers are Mantis PANAGIOTIS and Pavlos KAGIALIS from Greece who climb from 34th to fifth after discarding a disqualification and winning the last race.

Ingrid PETITJEAN and Nadège DOUROUX (FRA) are now in first overall in the Women's 470 fleet after winning the day's first race and placing fifth in the following. Early leaders, Sylvia VOGL and Carolina FLATSCHER (AUT) lose two places to third after scoring a 10th and a 14th. Second place goes to Spanish team of Tara PACHECO and Berta BETANZOS.

Spain are also going well in the Finn, where Rafa TRUJILLO (ESP) continued on his winning streak adding a second victory to his score. The Skandia Team GBR Finn sailors, led by Ed WRIGHT (GBR) placed second, third and fourth in the only race sailed today in the class.

In the 49er, class newcomers Tobias SCHADEWALDT and Hannes BAUMANN (GER) took the first two races out of the four sailed in the gold fleet to gain five places to 12th position in the overall ranking. With two second places today, John PINK and Rick PEACOCK (GBR) got to within one point from Pietro SIBELLO and Gianfranco SIBELLO (ITA), who just managed to hold on to their overall lead after winning the last race.

Nick THOMPSON (GBR), winner of the previous ISAF Sailing World Cup event in Miami, won the only race sailed in the Laser gold fleet. Overall leader Tonci STIPANOVIC (CRO) did not fare so well, but discards his 14-point score to keep a four-point advantage over THOMPSON. This is the first time the 22 years old Croat has competed at the Trofeo SAR Princess Sofia MAPFRE.

In the Laser Radial, US skippers Paige RAILEY and Beijing gold medallist Anna TUNNICLIFFE hold on to the top two positions, with TUNNICLIFFE claiming today's only race.

Thierry SCHMITTER (NED) continues to dominate the 2.4mR fleet with two victories added to his top three scores. The 2.4mR class is making its debut in Palma, brining Paralympic sailing to the event for the first time. "I really like the venue - the event so far has been really good and we're very impressed with the Race Committee," says British Paralympian Helena LUCAS. "They've been pretty punchy at getting the races off and seem to be well organized.

"I think it's great to be part of the World Cup Series and being included like one of the other Olympic Classes. Being the first year after the Games, in terms of the foreign teams turning up it's a little bit low on numbers, but hopefully next year there will be some more of the foreign teams. I can definitely see numbers up next year,"
she added.

The different weather conditions provided the event with new leaders.

Flavia TARTAGLINI (ITA) claimed the fifth race in the Women's RS:X fleet to stay in third place overall, but ahead of her Blanca MANCHON (ESP), current leader of the ISAF Sailing World Cup Standings, leapfrogs her teammate Marina ALABAU (ESP) to take the overall lead. In the Men's fleet, a second followed by a victory takes Dorian VAN RIJSSELBERGE (NED) into the top spot, six points ahead of early leader Fabian HEIDEGGER (ITA).

The Star class didn't race today.

As the first European event of the ISAF Sailing World Cup and in the year following on from the Beijing Olympic Games, the Trofeo SAR Princess Sofia MAPFRE has seen several new crew combinations tested out for the first time. One of the most intriguing changes has seen six-time Tornado World Championship and double Olympic medallist Darren BUNDOCK (AUS) switch from the multihull to the 49er skiff.

"I am disappointed of course that I am not racing in the Tornado but I am also enjoying the change," says BUNDOCK, who has moved to the new class after the multihull event was dropped from the 2012 Olympic Games. The Trofeo SAR Princess Sofia MAPFRE is the first event for BUNDOCK, not only on a 49er, but on a monohull! "Of course, it will take me time to get used to the boat, especially the boat handling, but at least now I can finally get around the course!"

The situation is probably also a big change for BUNDOCK's crew and current World Champion, Ben AUSTIN. "He is very patient", admit BUNDOCK, "He is also saving many capsizes. I might be getting better because he doesn't look so scared!" The Australians will have a busy programme with another four events of the ISAF Sailing World Cup and the Worlds on Lake Garda on the schedule for this year. Their racing debut together took off on a bad start after being disqualified from the first three races for using the "forbidden" Olympic spinnaker.

Racing continues in Palma tomorrow before the decisive Medal Races scheduled for Friday.

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 www.sailing.org/isafsailingworldcup.

Corinne Rolland-McKenzie
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