Gold Fleets Set in Palma
After two crazy day of racing the 49er and 49erFX fleets are all set for Gold fleet racing. With only four racing in qualifying there was a huge importance on starting out this event well, made especially challenging by the unstable conditions. Day 2 proved slightly less extreme than day 1 where boats were toppled both at sea an on land.
Also at stake this week are the remaining places at Sailing World Cup Hyeres, where fleets are restricted on only 40 boats. 29 boats have already qualified for Hyeres, leaving 11 spots (unofficially) remaining at Palma. It would have been 30 but each fleet has one British team still ranked in the top 30 but who has stopped sailing for now. With qualifying over that means the battle for those spots is a lot clearer. It looks like total opposites between the 49er and 49erFX illustrating the tremendous depth in the 49er fleet currently. 11 teams outside the top 30 in rankings made the Gold fleet in Palma whereas only a single team from the 49erFX did so. In each case, the following teams have locked in some of the 11 remaining spots in Hyeres:
Unqualified for Hyeres making Gold in Palma
49er 49er FX
- BRA – Bianchi 1. CAN – Morgan
- GER – Schmidt
- GBR – Peters
- SWE – Bergstrom
- JPN – Makino
- FRA – Frei
- BRA – Grael
- FRA – Fischer
- RUS – Kalinchev
- ITA – Angilela
- AUS – Phillips
The Brazilian battle in the 49er is quite interesting. Both partnerships are new as of this quad and with a home Olympics there is plenty of incentive to win the home spot! Both teams have improved tremendously over the past two and a half years and will each be looking for the chance to get another regatta in by qualifying to Hyeres.
We also have a few returnees to top flight racing. The Italian London Olympian Angilela has battled injury recently so it’s nice to see him back on the circuit and punching a ticket to the World Cup round of Hyeres. Also under the odds are Russia’s Kalinchev, who doesn’t get to participate in so many events but has been gradually improving each year.
At the front of the fleet, yet again, are Kiwi World Champions Peter Burling and Blair Tuke. This duo has made it clear to all that AC racing will be second priority to 49er through Rio and are backing that up with another European event attendance. Will they be able to keep their unbeaten streak since the London Olympics in tack? Erik Heil is hot on their heels and won the Princess Sofia Trophy in 2013, so hey and crew Thomas Ploessel will be looking for a repeat.
Congrats to the Canadian team of Arielle Morgan and Heather Myatt who are the only sailors to have broken into the top 30 ranked sailors to make Gold fleet in Palma. The Canadian squad of three full time teams has been putting in a steady effort since the 49erFX was approved and this is the first time they’ve sent two teams to Gold fleet of the same regatta. With that qualifying effort Morgan/Myatt are guaranteed a spot in Hyeres. That leaves the remaining qualifying action to Silver fleet where the teams vying for the remaining places can go head to head.
Piling up the wins in qualifying have been home country sailing stars Tamara Echegoyen and Berta Betanzos. They won each of their first 3 qualifying races to lead up the fleet. With smaller fleets there are many teams on low points, so the regatta is far from over.
Another match up in Palma is the selection trials for the Netherlands. Both teams, Annemiek Bekkering with Annette Duetz and Nina Kiejzer with Clair Blom qualified comfortably for gold fleet so their selection will last the week. Kiejzer/Blom hold an eight placing advantage from the first leg in Miami meaning that favoured Bekkering/Duetz must place that much higher in the overall rankings. They are currently only 3 point separated.
Gold fleet racing will consist of 3 days of racing and then a medal race to close out the event on Saturday April 4th.