It was a day for the Australians at the Trofeo S.A.R. Princess Sofia MAPFRE as they end the day with leaders in the Laser, Men's 470 and Women's 470 and Women's Match Racing Semi Finallist.
So far the third of seven ISAF Sailing World Cup Regattas has been dominated by light winds. However, all scheduled races have been completed providing sailors in Palma with a full racing programme.
Usually known for their strong wind skills, the Australians are performing well in the light conditions and are leading three classes. While Tom Burton is keeping a narrow lead in the strong Laser fleet from Britain's Paul Goodison and Nick Thompson, the Australians have also claimed top positions in both 470 classes as well as advancing to the Women's Match Racing Semi Final.
Olivia Price (AUS) to the Women's Match Racing Semi-Finals are coming through her Quarter Final against Mandy Mulder (NED). The Australian took the first two race wins before Mulder hit back. But Price sealed the deal in the fourth match advancing to the Semi-Finals where she will face 2011 ISAF Women's Match Racing World Champion and ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Anna Tunnicliffe (USA). The other Semi-Final will be contested between Claire Leroy (FRA) and Tamara Echegoyen (ESP).
After winning the ISAF Worlds and the Rolex Miami OCR, Mat Belcher and Malcom Page (AUS) are now leading the score in the 470 men event in Palma. "These conditions have been hard, we usually prefer to race in windier conditions." explained Malcolm Page who also admits having aged by many years with the light and nerve raking conditions! "We don't often have the chance to race in such light winds so these are good practice for us, especially with all the strong teams here!" added Mat Belcher.
One point behind are the Israelis Gideon Kliger and Eran Sela, with Lucas Calabrese and Juan De la Fuente (ARG) in third.
The gold plated Australian team of Elise Rechichi and Belinda Stowell are going from strength to strength in the Women's 470. The recently formed pair are leading the strong Women's 470 fleet in Palma, after placing ninth at the ISAF Worlds in Perth. Today they collected a disqualification at the start of Race 7 along with 15 other teams but managed to pass the French team of Emmanuelle Rol and Helene Defrance by a single point in the overall rankings. "It is disappointing to have collected a Black flag, but we were able to fight back with a second in the next race." says Rechichi. "We are still learning as a team and each of us bring different skills. It's great if we have a good result here but our main objective is to progress as a team," added Stowell. The Sydney Gold medallist is bringing her strong wind sailing skills to Rechichi who proved with a Gold medal in Beijing that she can master Palma light winds.
Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson (GBR) extended their lead over Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada (BRA) to eight points in the Star. Whilst in the Finn, Ben Ainslie (GBR) is sailing away with two more bullets added to his already impressive score. Zach Railey (USA) and Daniel Birgmark (SWE) are conserving second and third position.
After a back surgery earlier this year, Ainslie seems to be back in top form, displaying his talent in the tricky conditions since the start of the week. He explains his recovery, "It was a difficult period over the winter. We've been here training pretty hard, but the conditions funnily enough are quite different to what we've been training in and I think everyone's finding it hard. For me it's just great to be back racing again and you do realise there's a huge difference between training with four or five boats and suddenly having 60 boats, a long start line, 1.3 mile beats and a big course so it's very different and it's great for me to be back racing and getting my head into that.
"The body is holding together very well actually but having said that it's been pretty light winds so I wouldn't have said it's been the toughest physical test I've ever experience in my sailing career. But considering where I was two months ago, I couldn't be happier to be here and to be racing and to be back on the programme, in tune and racing well. That's a massive step for me and hopefully I can continue pushing forwards for the next four or five months."
Alicia Cebrian (ESP) is the Laser Radial leader with Marit Bouwmeester (NED) in second position and Evi van Acker (BEL) in third. "There is such a good level here, so I am trying hard to do my best. This regatta is very important for the Spanish Radial team as we are in selection for the Olympic Games. There are still two more regattas to go so I need to keep working hard as the other two are very good." explained Cebrian.
Sailors in the 49ers were divided in three groups for the final stage, with only 25 sailors moving into the Gold fleet. Jonas Warrer and Soren Hansen (DEN) continue to hold their lead and are ten points clear of British pair of John Pink Rick Peacock and the French team of Manu Dyen and Stephane Christidis, winner of the Palma event in 2010 and 2011.
The top three remain unchanged in the 2.4.mR with Thierry Schmitter (NED) adding two bullets to lead the 24 boats fleet by a comfortable margin.
Friday will see the end of fleet racing before the top ten sailors head into the Medal Races.
ISAF Sailing World Cup Website
Trofeo S.A.R. Princess Sofia MAPFRE Website