It was a wonderful redemption for the Dutch team of Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz at the 47th Trofeo Princessa Sofia regatta as the girls had another great day of racing, winning all three races to lead the standings. The Dutch duo have been near the top of the 49erFX fleet for since the boats existence but a very poor showing at this regatta last year when it was part of the Dutch Olympic trials meant they did not win the country spot. Their rivals have yet to hit the Olympic standard for the Netherlands and have only one chance left, at the Europeans next week, and if they do not hit the world standard then it seems highly likely that Bekkering in Duetz will get their Olympic chance after all. Adding another top team to the medal fight in Rio can only increase the drama of that regatta.
Their lead at the top of the standings is not as great as one might imagine, as the Danish Olympic bound team of Jena Hansen and Katja Iversen put together a very solid day of 5, 3, 2, and are only eight points back of the lead with one day remaining plus a medal race.
Yesterday’s surprise news was the withdrawal from the regatta of Brazil’s Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze due to an injury to Kahena. They had been in contention for the lead but in the second race on day 3 Kahena suffered and injury, forcing them to retire from the race and all further races. They are also withdrawing from the European Championship next week and all of Brazil will be holding it’s breath in hopes they can return to top form prior to the home Olympics.
In the fight for European Olympic qualification, Finland’s Noora Ruskola and Camilla Cedercuetz had another solid day to pull a few points farther ahead of the chasing Austrians Laura Shoeffeger and Elsa Llovrek. The Fin’s are up into ninth overall, one of their best performances since their medal at the 2013 Junior World Championship, and will need to hang on tight for the final day to secure their nation’s Olympic aspirations. With a 26 point lead over the Austrians, there is some wiggle room, but things can happen quickly in a skiff fleet so the Olympic berth is not yet secure. There is even less room for error tomorrow than normal as the Finish duo had to endure a DNC today after breaking a rudder during a race. This drop race of the entire fleet score means that if they have another ‘letter’ score their lead could be cut dramatically. With the other Finish team of Sinem Kurtbay and Silja Kanerva having a better day and still in the hunt, that should limit the ability of the Austrians to pay too much attention to Noora and ‘Milla in the way of match racing or searching for a penalty.
The 49er fleet sees a rare thee-way tie for first overall with one day and one medal race to go. Winning the count back are Erik Heil and Thomas Ploessel of Germany who had a great finish to the day with a 25, 8, 1, 1 and look to be in great shape to win the German Olympic selection with their team mates and rivals, Justus Schmidt and Max Boeme back in ninth. If Erik and Tommy can maintain the lead over their countrymen they will have won their first trip to an Olympic games and will be in the medal hunt in Rio.
Not at their best today, but still tied for the lead are Austria’s Nico Delle Karth and Niko Relsch, recent silver medallists at the 2016 49er World Championship. These two always love Palma and will be looking for the outright win. Challenging them are Ireland’s Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern, who are the third team tied on points for the lead. This duo are already Olympic selected and are often in the top 10 at regattas, but have not often been at the front end of the fight for regatta wins. They will be hoping they can execute over these final two days to secure a medal and give them a boost of confidence in themselves and their program as they look forward to the games.
With two days remaining, enjoy following along with the live tracking as this years Palma regatta heads to conclusion.