After three days of racing at the Trofeo S.A.R. Princess Sofia MAPFRE the qualification stage is over for classes sailing in groups and tomorrow will see the best of the best going for glory in the gold fleet.
The Lasers, 470 and 49ers will be split on Thursday in Gold and Silver fleets with a Bronze fleet only for Lasers and 49ers.
With racing on schedule, all classes are discarding their worst result tonight creating some surprise changes in the leader board. Many of the usual suspects are still in contention but at the close of play a few surprise packages are leading the way with only Ben Ainslie (GBR) in the Finn, Marit Bouwmeester (NED) in the Laser Radial and Thierry Schmitter (NED) in the 2.4mR conserving their lead after winning a race each on the third day.
The Men's and Women's 470 have new leaders with Croatia's Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic, third at the ISAF Worlds in Perth, climbing from third to first in the Men's fleet. World Champions Mat Belcher and Malcolm Page (AUS) are second overall after scoring similar results.
The Croatians said, "Another great day like yesterday, we used similar tactics both yesterday and today, we were very tough and precise on the start, which enabled us to have a good opening in both today's races. The left side of the course was the favourable one in both races so with good speed and good sailing we managed to reach the left side. We were among the leading boats from the first mark. A third and a second place in these difficult conditions is a very good result."
In the Women's 470, Emmanuelle Rol and Hélène Defrance (FRA) have improved their position steadily over the week to take the yellow jersey on the third day. The French pair, aiming for Olympic selection, said, "The conditions are very hard here with lots of good teams, tricky winds and short steep waves. We are bringing special attention to our starts. These are our favoured conditions but the hardest part is still to come: finish the regatta with the pressure to be in first place. So we will keep taking one day at a time and concentrate on our sailing."
Australia's Tom Burton holds the lead in the Laser over Nick Thompson (AUS) and Charley Buckingham (USA). In seventh position is Juan Ignacio Maegli from Guatemala. He qualified his country for the Olympic Games in Perth and is following the family tradition after his father participated in three consecutive Olympic Games from 1976 to 1984 in the Finn. Maegli explains his good results, "The regatta has been going pretty well, I've been getting good and consistent results but the conditions have made the races very tricky and tough. I am looking forward to Gold fleet racing tomorrow and hopefully I can keep up the good form."
Jonas Warrer and Soren Hansen (DEN) have taken the lead in the 49er fleet from David Evans and Edward Powys (GBR), now in third place, one point behind John Pink and Rick Peacock (GBR). The 49ers will be split in three groups tomorrow with the top 25 moving into the Gold fleet.
In the Laser Radial, Race 3 for the Yellow group was re-sailed following a request for redress lodged yesterday by a large number of sailors against the race committee. Then it was back to normal business with new groups formed for Race 5 and 6. Bouwmeester continues to lead whilst Evi van Acker (BEL) takes second place after discarding her 15th place finish. Alicia Cebrian (ESP) is third with a consistent series of top five results.
Ben Ainslie further strengthened his Olympic favourite title as he ends the day 11 points ahead of Daniel Birgmark (SWE) after placing second to Zach Railey (USA) in Race 5 and winning the last.
"It was a very difficult day today," said Ainslie. "The wind was quite light this morning and changing a lot so it was very hard to read and there were lots of ups and downs in the fleet but for me I had a good day."
With a race win, Railey moves up to third overall, "It has been a very difficult event so far, taking decisions on the water have not been easy but I am sticking to my choices and on the second race, even if I missed the shift on the left, I was able to come back and pass twenty boats. I am happy with the way I am going, confidence is the key."
An interesting battle is also developing in the Star class with just two points separating Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson (GBR) and Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada (BRA) at the top of the tree. The British 2008 Olympic gold medallists lead the way and with four fleet races and the Medal Race remaining it will be interesting to watch how their fight develops.
And in the 2.4, Thierry Schmitter is comforting his lead with two bullets added to his score.
The third day of the Women's Match Racing Competition proved to be a big day for the six teams in the Repechage - only two would advance to the Quarter Finals, the other four go home. The racing was very close with Ekaterina Skudina (RUS) winning the round with 4 wins and only one loss. The next three teams were tied with 3 wins and 2 losses and only one would advance. After digging deep in the rule book the tie was broken in favor of Claire Leroy (FRA) with Renee Groeneveld (NED) and Silja Lehtinen (FIN) losing out. Skudina and Leroy advance to the Quarter Finals and will face the top two from the Gold Group.
In the Gold Group, Lucy Macgregor (GBR) leads the way with an undefeated score of 3 wins and no losses. Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) and Tamara Echegoyen (ESP) follow closely with 2 wins each. The Gold Group will finish their round robin in the morning and the seeding for the Quarter Finals will be complete.
Racing begins at 10:00 tomorrow with the remainder of the Gold Group followed by the Quarter Finals.
ISAF Sailing World Cup Website
Trofeo S.A.R. Princess Sofia MAPFRE Website