Finals Heat Up Racing In Palma
Australian World #1 sailor Tom Burton
©Jesus Renedo / Sofia MAPFRE
ISAF Sailing World Cup Palma
With racing entering the final stage in the ISAF Sailing World Cup Palma - Princess Sofia MAPFRE the pressure for good scores is increasing and pitting the top sailors against each other.
It was down to the business end of ISAF Sailing World Cup Palma - Princess Sofia MAPFRE as the final series got underway, pitting the top sailors against each other.
The early leaders brought their form through to the final stage, consolidating and extended their positions at the front of the pack.
Only one point separates the top three Laser sailors, and a third man has joined the dual between World #1 Tom Burton (AUS) and World #2 Philipp Buhl (GER).
Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) has climbed to first position from seventh after taking two bullets in the Laser Gold fleet. "There were three tough races, in the first and the third I did really great," exclaimed the Croatian. "Although I did not think that I would have enough strength for the third one I said to myself I have to push and give what I can. I had a good start and it was going very easy and on the end of the second upwind I passed the New Zealander and I was leading to the finish."
Burton and Buhl are level and eight points and one behind Stipanovic. On the assets that Burton holds the German said, "Tom Burton is always strong. Last year he was very strong and today he was sailing very well again so it's nice to see that at the beginning of the season I am still able to chase him sometimes."
For Burton, Buhl is one of many opponents he needs to keep an eye on, "There's a few other guys in there as well like the Kiwis. Philipp and I have had a few battles in the past and I'm sure we'll have some more in the future."
In the Radial, Sarah Gunni (DEN) has taken first place on equal points with Alison Young (GBR). Tatiana Drozdovskaya (BLR) has climbed from eighth to third thanks to a race win.
The British Finn squad have taken an easy start to the new Olympic cycle. However, this is not reflected in their sailing season start. The first day of Finals see three British sailors among the top four with Giles Scott (GBR) leading the pack after a strong start in the qualification races.
"The guys have had an intensive four years and have taken a long break. Obviously they are still benefiting from the long hours on the water over the last few years," explained British coach Matt Howard.
Scott has been spending time racing with America's Cup team Luna Rossa but he has not lost any of his skills in the Finn with two race wins in the Gold fleet. "I have had four years of solid racing so I could afford some rest and obviously it is all coming back together," Scott said modestly. "There are some new faces at the top. The Kiwis are good and have learned quickly, Bruno Prada has fantastic starts and finds the right way upwind, and will be in the top sailors very quickly. I still have room for improvement in the starts."
Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) is placed second in front of Brits Andrew Mills and Mark Andrews.
Ida Marie Baad Nielsen and Marie Thusgaard Olsen from Denmark are collecting the fruits of their skiff experience in Palma and won the first three races in the final stage of the 49erFX event, and consolidate their lead from the qualification stage. "We have been sailing together in the 29er for six years already and trained for four months in the 49er once the 49er FX was announced as Olympic boat," explained the Danes.
"We have a good speed upwind and then downwind we know how to handle the boat and react quickly to follow the wind shifts. The trickier the wind, the more advantage we have, but we especially love to sail the skiff in the breeze. Being skiff sailors really help but we are sure that the other girls will work it out quickly."
The Danish 49er FX teams are training together with the guys. "We learn a lot from them, some have been sailing the 49er for a long time and are very experienced."
ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami victors Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA), 14th after the qualification stages, made an impressive climb to second after discarding their carry forward race, and only counting their final race scores.
Erik Heil and Thomas Ploessel (GER) have peaked at the right time. Three victories in the 49er Gold fleet has moved them from eighth to first. David Evans and Edward Powys (GBR) are second with London Bronze medallist Allan Noregaard with new crew Anders Thomsen third.
The RS:X is where the host nation Spain are showing their best results in the regatta. Ivan Pastor (ESP) is leading the Men's RS:X with two victories today, and is in front of Julien Bontemps (FRA) and Toni Wilhelm (GER).
Blanca Manchon (ESP) has moved up three places to third position in the Women's fleet and Bryony Shaw (GBR) pulled off her best day of the event to take the lead with Mayaan Davidovich (ISR) slipping to second.
"I am very happy with the way I went today," said Manchon who broke her sail between races. "I put a patch on it and it was fine. I am still very fast so I am satisfied with the day. There are still two final races to go and two medal races. The results are very close so anything can happen."
There is no change of lead in the Women's 470 with the top three keeping their early positions. Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh Mcintyre (GBR) add two more victories to increase their lead over the Brazilians Fernanda Oliveira and Ana Barbachan in second place and Enia Nincevic and Romana Zupan (CRO) in third.
There is no sharing of race victories for Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS) who are making an impressive debut in the European circuit and claimed all three race wins in the gold fleet. Luke Patience and Joe Glanfield (GBR) are second and the Greek team of Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis climbed from six places to third.
In the Nacra 17, Mandy Mulder and Thijs Visser (NED) end the final day in first place after a first a second and a third. However the day was not so good for early leaders Renne Groeneveld and Karel Begemann (NED). After a victory in the first race, they collided with the French team of Billy Besson and Marie Riou. After rounding the mark the Dutch spinnaker nose-dived, broke their spinnaker pole and ended up head to win. After the French team cleared the mark they overlapped to leeward of America's Sarah Newberry and John Casey with both crews on starboard tack.
As the Americas bore away the French could not avoid them and subsequently crashed straight into the Dutch team who had to retire. After an afternoon in the protest room the Americas were disqualified and slipped to fifth whilst a redress was given to the Dutch team and they now sit second behind their team mates.
Action in Palma resumes tomorrow as the places for the Medal Races are decided.