Solid Start to Qualifying in Palma

Both the 49er and 49erFX managed to get three races each on the first day of Qualifying in Palma.  After an overcast start to the day, the clouds parted and a light sea breeze formed to allow racing to begin around noon on all courses. 

The 49er sailors had the majority of the fleet stuck on land until most fleets were finished and then took to the bay of Palma in the late afternoon.  For the most part, typical Palma sea breeze strategies held, with good starts and the left corner making for good results.  Tomasz Januszewski (POL) commented, “We had a good start and headed left in contention for the lead.  When we came back, we ducked a couple of boats who continued left another couple of hundred meters, and by the top mark they were way ahead of us.  There was more breeze out there, and we should have held out for it.”

There were occasions where teams could make the right work.  With good timing on some shifts it is usually possible to put a race together, but the odds are not in your favor. Later in the day and farther up the bay the course was more even and teams were able to sail from both sides of the course.

Mattheiu Frei and Yann Rocherieux (FRA) had a great start with a 1, 2, in the Blue fleet.  They started once from the pin and once from the boat with similar results, and commended the race officer for quickly cycling through the races and managing the big start line well.  The Frenchmen commented that conditions were very similar in Miami, with 35 boats, so they were comfortable today.  Of course, they were at the front of the fleet, where it matters much less how many are behind.

Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign (GBR) won the first race of the day by a country mile, but didn’t manage to pull off the same feat in the second one.  We caught up with Dylan in between the second and third race

After a 2nd in the final race of the day it was Diego Botin and Pablo Turrado who lead the Yellow fleet.  These two young speedsters spent the winter training in Cadiz and are ambitious for 2014.

The 49erFX were the last groups to start today, with one group heading for the Finn course and the other group sailing on the beach (49er) course.  Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) started the regatta continuing on from recent form with the first win of the series.  They followed that up with two second place finishes to lead the championship after the first day.

Martine and Kahena are very happy with how they’ve been sailing and clearly are very comfortable in the light to medium wind strengths.  It was also interesting to note that Kahena was sent in for doping control, which is nice for everyone to see that there is monitoring in place.

Also sailing well were Sweden’s Lisa Ericson and Hanna Klinga. Sweden’s results are improving daily it seems after forming a squad around British 49er legend Paul Brotherton, who shot to coaching fame for taking ‘3 blondes in a boat’ through to Gold in 2008.  In both the 49er and 49erFX there are a number of teams moving up the rankings.  Lisa Erikson was all smiles after 2 good races and one slightly further back.  In only the teams second regatta together and the future is looking bright.

Half of the 49erFX fleet were sailing on the Finn course, which is a couple of miles upwind.  The course was not quite as left favored as down on the skiff course, and there was significant swell that added a dimension to the racing.  In light winds it was manageable for the teams, it will be interesting to see if conditions build later in the week how the 49ers fair in open water.

Full results are available and updated through the day.