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16 March 2008, 09:30 pm
Hosts On Top At Start In Palma
The 49er fleet at the start
The 49ers in action on day one

HRH Princess Sofia Trophy 2008
Palma de Mallorca, Spain

Spain leads in four events as the ISAF Grade 2 Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofia MAPFRE got underway in Palma on Sunday.
The first day in the 39th Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofia MAPFRE started on schedule with a light southwesterly breeze and sunshine.

Spanish sailors have taken the lead in four classes. Double Olympic medallist Natalia VIA-DUFRESNE, sailing with Laia TUTZO (ESP) in the 470, had a near-perfect day with a second place in the first race and a victory in the second - the Catalan team are on the right path to gain selection for the Olympic Games. They have a three-point lead over the world #1 crew of Giulia CONTI and Giovanna MICOL (ITA).

The day's first race went to triple World Champion Dutch sailors Marcelien DE KONING and Lobke BERKHOUT (NED), who are lie fifth overall. The Dutch will be defending their title with a new boat designed by DSM they have been testing for the last two years.

It is not surprising to see Marina ALABAU (ESP) sharing the top score with Alessandra SENSINI (ITA) in the Women's RS:X fleet. At the age of 22, the young Spaniard has already reached the summit of the ISAF World Sailing Rankings on the new Olympic board, and has a few titles under her belt including the 2007 European Championship. Current World Champion SENSINI has the benefit of the experience and has collected three Olympic medals along with a numerous European and World titles. They both won a race and placed second to secure a nine-point early lead over Olga MASLIVETS from Ukraine.

Two bullets in the qualifying races put the young Spanish 470 team formed by Onan BARREIROS and Aaron SARMIENTO in the lead of the regatta and comfortly ahead in their national selection for Qingdao. Second overall are 2007 ISAF Sailing World Championship silver medallists, Sven COSTER and Kalle COSTER from the Netherlands.

There were tight results in the 49er class with the top six teams within three points. Here again, the Spanish have made no concession and claim the first place. However, it is not as expected the Olympic gold medallists, Iker MARTINEZ and Xabi FERNANDEZ (ESP), placed 12th overall, who have scored the best results today but rather the less well-known Spanish team of Federico ALONSO and Arturo ALONSO. On equal scores, the British team of Paul CAMPBELL-JAMES and Mark ASQUITH and Hannes PECKOLT and Jan-Peter PECKOLT (GER) share second overall.

Germany leads the Tornado and Laser Radial fleets. Petra NIEMANN collected two bullets today in the Radials. Already qualified for Qingdao, she has decided to give the Worlds in Takapuna a miss to concentrate on her Olympic preparation. She is the hot favourite to take the Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofia MAPFRE, and at the same ti,e place top 12 as requested by her National Olympic Committee. Johannes POLGAR and Florian SPALTEHOLZ (GER) collected consistent results (2,2) in a small but talented field of Tornados. Today's races went to double Olympic gold medallist Roman HAGARA and Hans Peter STEINACHER (AUT) and French team of Xavier REVIL and Christophe ESPAGNON.

The Russian team of Anna BASALKINA, Vladislava UKRAINCEVA and Ekaterina MAXIMOVA has opened the score in the Yngling competition and taken the lead in front of current World Champions Sarah AYTON, Sarah WEBB and Pippa WILSON (GBR) and German crew led by Ulrike SCHUEMANN.

The British team is dominating three classes. In the Finn fleet Ben AINSLIE scored consistent results with two third places, while most of the fleet collected up and down results in shifty breeze and big waves out side the bay of Palma. Junior sailor Piotr KULA (POL) won the first race to add precious points to his first Olympic trials. He is placed eighth overall. Gasper VINCEC (SLO) took the second race to place third overall behind American Zach RAILEY.

Paul GOODISON (GBR) leads the 107 Lasers with two second places in the qualifying races. Ranked #2 in the world, GOODISON is in top form and has set the pace for his close opponents. Athens silver medallist, Andreas GERITZER (AUT) is in second place, two points behind the Briton. Last but not least, Nick DEMPSEY (third in the ISAF World Rankings) had a perfect day in the Men's RS:X fleet with two bullets, taking command amongst the 99 boards competing. Casper BOUMAN (NED) lies second, two points behind. Today's light conditions don't usually suit the young Dutchman who has created a surprise with two second places. The Trofeo Princesa Sofia MAPFRE, will be used by Dutch Olympic selectors in case of a tie between BOUMAN and rival Dorian VAN RIJSSELBERGE, at the end of their selection series.

Sailing will resume on Monday with an early start for the 49er at 11:00 while the other classes are scheduled at 12:00. Similar weather conditions are expected on the bay of Palma.

Results - click here
Princess Sofia Trophy - www.trofeoprincesasofia.org

Corinne Rolland-Mckenzie (As Amended By ISAF)
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