The bite of winter opens the European season >> Scuttlebutt Sailing News
Palma, Spain (April 4, 2022) – In all respects other than air temperature, it was a baptism of fire in the Bay of Palma when three of the new classes contested their first races in the arena of Olympic classes at the 51 Trofeo Sofia Mallorca today.
Although it was considered the opening of the Spring Olympic class for the European season, the bite of winter was very much in the air.
With half of the ten events underway, it was a chilly day as strong offshore breezes blew up to over 25 knots at times to provide a tough test for the first men’s and women’s iQFOiL windsurfing classes and the mixed class 470 dinghies.
Powerfully built Briton Sam Sills reveled in his favorite wind conditions in the men’s iQFOiL fleet, admitting it was cold enough for him to wear two suits. Sills took two early victories in his 50-man fleet before jumping the starting gun to land a UFD disqualification which he immediately atoned with his winning third gun.
With Finn Hawkins in second and Andrew Brown in third, Sills leads a GBR monopoly of the top three places proving the advantage of the team’s extended training period in Lanzarote and two good weeks of training on regatta waters Majorcans.
“It’s a long, long way to the finish line, but it’s a good way to start,” Sills said. “You never quite know what to expect at the start of the season. But on days like these, when it’s so windy and gusty, you just try to hang in there and sail your best.
“But it’s also good that I started a regatta a long, long time ago. And it’s great to be here in the Olympic arena with the iQFOiL. The RS:X was fun but it was very hard, it’s hard but it’s more fun. The competition is tight and everyone pushes, the level rises with each event.
Sills is a former two-time world champion as a young windsurfer and an accomplished former RS:X racer who has competed in the Sofia for ten years.
“It makes slalom starts very interesting because the guys on the PWA (Professional Windsurfing Association) circuit are probably better beginners,” added Sills. “But I practiced the starts a lot. The one that was finished was a learning point and at this stage of this event it’s good to try different starting techniques and so I won’t be trying that one again.
In the women’s iQFOiL, double European champion Hélène Noesmoen got off to the best start, with today’s conditions more reminiscent of her hometown of Les Sables d’Olonne on the French Atlantic coast than the Mediterranean.
The harsh conditions were a litmus test for the newly formed mixed doubles partnerships in the 470 dinghy. The challenge of keeping the boat upright left little time to polish maneuvers and communication. Spaniard Jordi Xammar, Olympic 470 bronze medalist, is now sailing with Nora Brugman in which they battled for 1st and 2nd place in both of their heats. This puts them tied for the lead with the Italians in the other qualifying group, Giacomo Ferrari and Bianca Caruso.
“We were out of control today,” smiled Xammar, who has just returned from sailing the Spanish F50 hydrofoil catamaran in the SailGP season finale in San Francisco. “I’ve spent the last two weeks feeling out of control 100% of the time, so I think that actually helped me deal with that feeling of being out of control in the 470 today.”
Xammar admitted that he made a promise to himself before leaving the beach not to attempt anything dramatic. “We were trying not to make stupid mistakes and to be smart, and maybe we were a bit too conservative, but we’re happy with our day.”
In the men’s ILCA 7 fleet, 2012 Olympic silver medalist Cyprus Pavlos Kontides took two wins ahead of GBR’s Michael Beckett and Germany’s Philipp Buhl who both finished second and first in their qualifying fleets respective.
The 115 Formula Kite foiling riders will make their debut on the Olympic classes stage tomorrow in the Bay of Palma. In itself, the sheer scale of a regatta of 1,000 athletes from 62 nations and ten classes sailing eight course areas is something of a culture shock.
And for many free-spirited souls, stepping into the Olympic arena at this first Hempel Sailing World Cup Series regatta of 2022 is an early warning of the dedication, focus and discipline that will be required to clinch a medal in Marseille in 2024.
“Usually with our own events we have around 100 riders, so the scale of organization here is incredible,” said Enthuses Antoine Weiss, youth coach for the French national team who had three male athletes in the four first and women placing third and fourth. at the 2021 Formula Kite World Championships.
“They have a better idea of what to do. They are beginning to understand this thing. And now, here, it feels real. And from there, they will be more focused and give more energy to the programs. Now, if you don’t train properly, you just won’t succeed. The top 10 of both fleets is very difficult to reach. At the moment there are 20 or 30 girls at this high level but for the men at the moment even getting into the top 50 is difficult.
Naturally, the French are determined to turn their current dominance into proper Olympic medals in their home waters in just over two years.
“We started kite foiling early and we have a lot of riders and the Federation gives good support to the riders,” said Weiss but warns, “Marseille is very specific with the Mistral in particular. “The Mistral is more onshore and very gusty. In the thermal sea breeze it’s easy. And at the moment it’s also difficult to train there. We tend to train in Hyères and Montpellier.
Short, fast, high-speed runs – typically 12 minutes – leave no room for error. The program in Palma is four races a day. After two days of qualifying, the top 14 athletes advance to the final while the top two qualifiers progress directly to the medal race on April 9, with the remaining 12 riders split into two semi-finals, with the winners of each advancing to for the medal race.
Competitors sign four kites for the regatta – from one of five different IKA-approved brands. The four licensed brands each have between eight and ten kites ranging from 7m to 25m to choose from. During the regatta, competitors may change at any time when a flag is displayed. As soon as it is shown, the competitors return to the beach to change. There are ten different licensed foil manufacturers, two of which – one German and one Italian – are predominant.
Here they sail classic upwind and downwind courses, heading upwind to the first buoy where they turn to reach another upwind and downwind (an outside loop or trapeze) while the final is a shorter standard windward to leeward. The target time for qualifying races is 12 minutes and 6-9 minutes for the final.
Event Details – Results – Facebook
CONTINUED: For the North American contingent, Canadian Sarah Douglas dominated the day, posting a pair of twos in the 83-boat ILCA 6 fleet to take third place overall. For the United States, Louisa Nordstrom/Trevor Bornarth’s two tenth-place finish among the 57 mixed 470 teams puts them in 20th place.
The races take place from April 4 to 9.
Ten Olympic events begin with a staggered schedule:
April 4 – First day of racing for ILCA 6 & 7, 470, iQFOiL
April 5 – First day of racing for 49er, 49erFX, Nacra 17, Formula Kites
With 62 nations represented, there are 1,093 competitors with 843 boats in Palma de Mallorca for the biggest Olympic-class regatta since the Tokyo 2020 Games.
Part of the Hempel World Cup Series, the popular Princesa Sofía Regatta is back after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, and is the first of two regattas in 2022 that brings together all Olympic-class boats in one place.
2022 Hempel World Cup Series:
April 4-9 – Hempel World Cup Series Palma (Princess Sofía Regatta), Spain
May 31-June 5 – Hempel World Cup Series Amsterdam (Allianz Regatta), Netherlands
TBC – Hempel World Cup Marseille, France
The Hempel World Cup Series is the definitive annual circuit for the world’s best sailors and Olympic hopefuls. Reflecting the Olympic style of sailing in terms of format, duration and fleet size, the World Cup Series visits prestigious venues around the world at all stages of the four-year Olympic cycle, supporting athletes in their quest to qualify for the Games and connecting fans with the sport’s best sailors.
Source: Trofeo Sofia Mallorca