Irish Secure Their First Ever Win in the 49er

Irishmen Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern have secured the in Palma – their first major regatta win of their 49er careers.  The popular team finished 14th at the last Olympics and has had brief moments near the top of the fleet, including a second place finish at Sailing World Cup Hyeres in 2014 but now take a step higher to the top of the podium.  In challenging conditions that suits their physicality well, the duo sailed a great regatta from start to finish, with only two double digit scores in a deep fleet.  With the Kiwi sensations Burling and Tuke claiming every regatta win they’ve entered this quad, there are few other recent winners in the fleet which should boost the Irish duo’s confidence in the run up to Rio 2016.

Matt had this to say, ” I guess it’s fair to say Ryan and I are so happy. We have really been pushing ourselves hard since the Argentina disappointment at the worlds and this is a great pay off. We have a super busy season of events and training, so the confidence and motivation from sailing so well will really help push us through and keep driving hard to the games.”

Outteridge and Jensen closed the gap to the lead on a great final couple days of racing, but ultimately could not climb all the way back to very top of the leaderboard after a faltering first few races to the event. Only 6 points separate Botin/Lopez, Heil/Ploessel, and Delle Karth/Resch heading into the medal race.  All three of these teams have been up the standings at points during this regatta and will looking to finish there, save for Outteridge who’s been fighting his way back into contention since a poor start to the event .  He could have leapt out to challenge the Irish except that in the penultimate race to date he was over early negating his good finish in the that race.  It does seem like at time of writing Outteridge is requesting a reversal of his over early so it may yet come to pass that the Iris will have more work to do. (Updated, request was withdrawn)

Over on the 49erFX course the medallists are decided but there is still a fight for who will win the regatta.  Dutchwomen Bekkering and Duetz sailed another fantastic day today with all three races in the top 5, but stubbornly for them so Denmark’s Hansen and Iversen had a 3, 9, 2 to keep them in the hunt.  There is an 11 point gap between these two meaning that the Danes must put 6 boats between them and the Dutch in order to reverse the standings.  Neither team must fear being overtaken further as Germany’s Lutz and Beuke are secure in third place but far enough back at 89 points that they can not challenge the leading two boats any more.  The regatta is likely a mixed feeling for Lutz and Beuke, who will have won their first medal in a major regatta in the 49erFX yet at the same time have now lost their Olympic trials to the fourth place overall team, and their team mates, Jurczok and Llorenz.  Jurczok and Llorenz had pulled out a large lead in their trials over the last worlds and European Championships and by closing out strongly in Palma will have secured the nomination from a German team that worked together all the way though the quad.

National Olympic Berths

With only the medal race yet Finland has secured the final 49erFX Olympic berth on the performance of Noora Ruskola and Caomilla Cedercruetz, who sit in tenth place overall and will get a victory lap in the medal race.  It’s been a wild ride for Ruskola in the 49erFX.  Her first regatta was Palma 2013 where she suffered a huge black eye and bloody lip during a capsize and was forced to miss the remainder of that regatta.  Later that year the team wend on to win the Youth World Championship (now titled Junior).  Finland failed to secure an Olympic berth in Santander 2014 and then Ruskola and Cedercruetz had tough financial decisions to make chasing the remaining Olympic berths at the 2015 Worlds.  A tearful Ruskola was clearly heartbroken after a poor qualifying series at that worlds meant they were out of contention for the Olympic berths after only three days of racing, and staring the end of an Olympic run directly.  They scraped together funds from sponsors at home and have now proven how much determination it takes to compete in sailing.

Their journey is not over yet, as they will be challenged for the Olympic berth from within the Finish squad by a strong team of Sinem Kurtbay and 2012 Bronze medalist Silja Kanerva.  Sinem and Silja have been arguably the stronger Finish crew through the last couple of years, but also came up short at the Olympic qualifiers previously, and are recently recovering from an injury to Sinem Kurtbay that forced them to bring in ‘old’ helm Silja Lehtinen as a substitute skipper for training.  The two Finish teams will have the Europeans and Hyeres to continue their fight for Olympic selection.

In the 49er, the Olympic berth has been won by Sweden on the basis of being the only nations in gold fleet not previously qualified.  They too will continue their Olympic selection trials at the Europeans and Sailing World Cup Hyeres, but with the added wrinkle of the Swedish selection policy insists on sending only teams with medal potential to the games.  If the selectors do not believe they have a chance, then they could decline the berth leaving it to the next team in line, which looks like it will be the hard working Swiss team of Schneiter and Cujean

National Selection

While not all teams have published national selection, we can ascertain some of what is going on within the quads.  We keep a list of who is selected and what qualification we know of at the Olympics page in the results tabs.  None of the following is official as national teams can do what they want so bear that in mind:


Denmark – This news isn’t Palma related but 2008 Gold medallist Jonas Warrer has changed crews in recent weeks sighting personal differences with quadrennial long crew Anders Thomsen.  He is now sailing with CP Lubeck, who  recently came up short in the Nacra to 2012 Olympic bronze medallist in the 49er Allan Noorreggard.  The team were not yet up to pace but are one to watch as CP is a tremendous athlete and Jonas has a history of fast finishes to Olympic campaigns.

Germany – Probably Erik Heil and Thomas Ploessel have beaten out Justus Schmidt and Max Boeme for the German Olympic berth.  Their points system is a little complex with additional points scored for medals but with Heil having built up a points lead at the last World Championship, overtaking Schmidt’s medal performance from the Porto Europeans, they should have it locked down now that they will finish ahead.

Austria – Although not officially selected we assume that Nico Delle Karth and Niko Resch are going for Austria based on their Silver medal at worlds and another solid regatta in Palma.

Italy – The Italians still have 5 teams fighting it out to see who like bee selected by their federation.  They have been busy on the water and busy in the protest room making for a long regatta!


Singapore – Griselda Khng and Sara Tan have secured the nomination for Singapore.  They entered the event with a healthy lead over their team mates Lim and Low and had a solid regatta finishing in 11th overall.

Australia – There are three Australian teams here and all three will be racing the European triple of Palma, Europeans, Hyeres.  We believe that the Australian selection committee will choose based on the results of these three regattas.  Lloyd and Elks have helped their cause sitting in fifth with a chance to move into fourth in the medal race, or down to seventh.  Behind theme are Outteridge and Curtis in fourteenth and then Price and Solly in nineteenth.  It’s hard to know what emphasis the Aussie selection committee will place on which regattas.

Netherlands – The Dutch selection will hinge on the performance of Keizer and Blom at the Europeans next week.  If they do not finish in the top (6, 5, 3?) then it seems likely Bekkering and Duetz will get to go to Rio.  A good question would be if their selection rules allow team racing at major competitions, as like we saw with the Spanish 49er trials it is almost impossible to get a top performance with another team determined to hold you back.  How the World Sailing judges came to allow this interpretation of fair sailing is incredible…

47 Trofeo Princesa Sofia IBEROSTAR, bay of Palma, Mallorca, Spain, takes place from 25th March to 2nd April 2016. Qualifier event for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Almost 800 boats and over 1.000 sailors from to 65 nations ©Jesus Renedo/Sofia
47 Trofeo Princesa Sofia IBEROSTAR, bay of Palma, Mallorca, Spain, takes
place from 25th March to 2nd April 2016. Qualifier event for the Rio 2016
Olympic Games. Almost 800 boats and over 1.000 sailors from to 65 nations
©Jesus Renedo/Sofia