With the 52 Trofeo Princesa Sofía Mallorca by Iberostar moving into the decisive Finals phase on the Bay of Palma, leading contenders today finally got their first real feel for how much the level has moved up since last season.
Gold fleet racing is always the real acid test. Leads earned through the initial Qualifying heats often prove transient when it is only the cream of each fleet battling it out for places in Saturday’s Medal races.
Points are close in the 49er FX Women’s skiff where the Dutch duo Odile van Aanholt and Annette Duetz Tokyo bronze medal winners have the better of their Brazilian rivals, double gold winners, Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze for the meantime, but there is just three points in it.
Isaura Maenhaut with Anouk Geurts (BEL) have been consistently moving up the fleet over the last few seasons and have a great scoreline so far in Palma that includes 6 top fives from nine races putting them in 3rd overall. Argentines Sol Branz with Cecilia Carranzo are veteran newcomers to the FX with Sol switching from crewing to helming after Tokyo and joining with Nacra 17 Gold medalist Carranza. They had the best day on the water in gold fleet to move up into fourth.
In the 49er, New Zealand hold first and third with Logan Dunning Beck and Oscar Gunn leading after winning three of the first four Finals races today. New Zealand were making press back home with the size of their squad, and it could be a big part of their early European success.
“We had good starts today, and that was a big help, but it wasn’t just that.” said Dunning Beck, “ I think we managed to avoid the worst of the congestion on the race course. I saw Bart Lambriex try some really good things today and they almost worked, but one thing would go wrong for him and he’d be right at the back again. That was easy for that to happen, so I’m glad we managed to stay out of trouble.”
Tom Burton with Max Paul (AUS) sit in fifth showing that the down-under summer could be the right move when compared to winter training venues in the northern hemisphere, at least as the season gets going.
British Nacra 17, Tokyo silver medallists John Gimson and Anna Burnet, profited in the lighter, marginal foiling breeze, and now leading the Italian trio of crews by five points, Olympic champions Rugerro Tita and Caterina Banti are now up to second. Along with Santiago Lanze with Victroia Trvascio in tenth, the top four teams all formed one training group this winter and seemed to have held their edge so far over the training groups that spent their time in Lanzarote this winter. Perhaps if the wind picks up later in the regatta we’ll see the balance switch back.
Crew Burnet is pleased to have their Italian training partners behind them, “The group we’ve been training with has obviously come out quite well from the winter. Not to say that others aren’t fast because for sure in other conditions I think it’ll be a real mix of teams up at the front. But we have really enjoyed training with those guys.”
Finals racing concludes Friday, Medal races are on Saturday.