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Great Britain Dominant On Bay Of Palma

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  • Great Britain Dominant On Bay Of Palma

    Good, reliable easterly sea-breezes on the Bay of Palma allowed rapid progress to be made through an ambitious roster of Medal deciding contests as the record sized 52 Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mallorca Iberostar regatta reached a thrilling conclusion.

    Only the ILCA 6 and ILCA 7, Women’s and Men’s gold medals were pre-ordained, Marit Bouwmeester of Holland and Britain’s Micky Beckett clinching the top awards on Friday before today’s medal races.

    As Great Britain racked up an impressive haul of six medals, four gold and two silver, across the ten Olympic classes which will feature at next summers Paris Olympics, the top award for the Mallorcan showcase regatta went to the 16 year old Singaporean Maximilian Mader – 2022 world championship runner up – who won the Men’s Formula Kite class.

    After a string of eight wins in the preliminary and Finals series he won the Medal Final to become only the second Asian sailor to win the giant regatta’s absolute top award after China’s Yue Ten dominated the RS:x Class in 2019. Maeder’s trophy triumph no doubt reflects his outstanding skills, the depth of competition and the truly international entry in this young, dynamic new Olympic class which will debut in the Olympic arena in Marseille next summer.

    The 16 year old trains with a sparring partner in Croatia and is making a big impression on the sport, “I came here just wanting to shake off the winter rust and get into the season.” said Maeder, “ I came here trying to perform my best. I always like to win but to come here with that at the front of your mind all the time, in my experience does not help you perform best."

    "This is my first regatta of the year which I don’t think helped. I came straight from Croatia where I train with my sparring partner in Pula in the Spring and during the summer we train out of Split. It works well for me and they have such great conditions. We work together, it is efficient, there is not too much clutter and noise and we push each other. Your tactics look brilliant when you are fast. Ask the others but I think there are other guys who have an edge in speed but somehow I get the right side of the course and I have some little tricks which help me I guess.”

    There were elements of sweet revenge for the Women’s Formula Kite winner and for the Palma title victor in the Men’s iQFoiL. Both France’s Lauriane Nolot and Britain’s Sam Sills had ghosts to lay to rest on the shimmering Bay of Palma today. Nolot, from the French Mediterranean kiting hotspot of Hyeres, led to the final gybe last year of the Grand Final last year but fluffed the transition and let the USA’s Daniela Moroz through to win.

    Nolot was on impeccable form today and made no mistakes, “I was leading again this time. I was thinking about it when I was going into it, thinking ‘come on don’t make it twice’ and my gybe this time was insane.” enthused Nolot who talked about the mental pressure on the series leader who comes in cold to sail only the big finale, “I was trying to stay chilled. When it is so stressful that is easier said than done but I just focus on my foil, the feeling on the kite and the foil and don’t think too much about emotions.

    My plan was drawn out in my head and it was just like follow it a to b to c. I was always trying to just sail clean and do good things, even this week when I was not winning races. When were in Miami training it was only light winds which was good for me this week as it has been mainly 10-12kts. My winter training was good. Now this is a very important win as our selection committee are watching to select for the Test regatta.”

    Cornwall bred naval architect and green tech specialist Sills also led in the early stages here last year but more recently led both the iQFOiL events in Lanzarote in January and February but they ran way from him. Today he held his nerve, despite the severe pressure heaped on the winner of the Finals series who goes direct to the final. He left Germany’s current world champion Sebastian Koerdel to second. Sills acknowledged, “I am a lot better prepared this year and am full time sailing which I was not last year, so I am full time with the British Sailing Team which is great because there is so much support and knowledge and that has really helped. We have more data now – all secret of course – but things to work off which are important. I went out on the water first today and that let me see all the other competing and I had a good feel for it. In Lanzarote my starts went wrong but now I think I have solved that. Really this win is a big deal for me, a mark on the career and a step towards the Olympics I hope.”

    RXS bronze medallist Emma Wilson, who turned 24 yesterday, gave Britain the double victory in the women’s iQFOiL. She has been racing here for ten years previously in the RXS Class. Wilson grinned, “With the format as it is there is so much mental pressure but I was just saying to myself I know I am fast just get a good start and use my speed. I love these conditions and I love Palma I feel very at home here. It is such a mental game, 95% of it for sure on the last day. I had a big reset in February when I had an operation on my arm. I just said to myself I had to give it 100% and just make sure everything is right. I have a good team around me including my Mum (ed note Penny Wilson 2 x windsurfing Olympian). I worked so hard on my fitness. I have been here in Palma for six weeks. We have had these conditions just about every day.”

    Gimson Burnet do an Italian Job?

    A second place in the Medal Race was good enough for Tokyo silver winners Jon Gimson and Anna Burnet, snatch Nacra 17 gold from their Italian training partners, Vittorio Bissaro and Maelle Frascari (ITA). It’s really nice to actually win one here, because we’ve been either second or third in Palma five times.” said Gimson. It was also an important psychological boost to come out ahead of the three Italian teams with whom the British have been training in Sardinia over the winter. Bissaro and Frascari took silver ahead of Gianluigi Ugolini and Maria Giubilei (ITA) in bronze.

    Pre-event few people would have predicted that Italy’s all-conquering duo of recent times, reigning Olympic and World Champions, last year’s winners here Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti might be out of the medals in Palma but they could only manage fourth. But Gimson cautioned “This feels like the first light-wind regatta we’ve had for a while, and their real strength is in foiling conditions.”

    Kiwi Aus 49er Rivalries Rekindled?

    Logan Dunning Beck and Oscar Gunn overtook their New Zealand teammates for the gold medal in the 49er class. “The weather has been amazing for the whole trip,” said Gunn. “It was a tough first day but we just kept at it and managed to climb back up the rankings to have a shot at the gold when we went into the Medal Race. So it’s really good to come away with the win.”

    The Laser Olympic Champion from Rio 2016, Tom Burton, shows signs of becoming world-class in the very different 49er skiff. Burton and his crew Max Paul (AUS) took the silver medal ahead of the yellow bib wearers who slipped to bronze medal, Isaac McHardie and William McKenzie (AUS). Apart from the Polish team in fourth place, the top five spots were filled by Australasian crews, something that hasn’t been seen in a while in the 49er skiff. “It’s probably coincidence that the Kiwis and Aussies have done well here,” said Beck, “because we haven’t done much training with them in recent years. But it’s good to see, and it reminds me of the days when Outteridge and Jensen (AUS) and Burling and Tuke (NZL) were fighting it out at the top of the fleet. It’s nice to think we could get back to that again.”

    Brazilians shine in the FX, Japan in the 470

    Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze took the 49erFX gold medal in fine style. The double Olympic Champions from Brazil sealed the overall win with a sweet victory in the Medal Race. “I think we made really good decisions this week,” said Grael. “And we really enjoyed the sailing, which I think is the most important thing. But at the same time it was light breeze and we had some very tiring days on the water. That Medal Race was really intense! I have a lot of respect for the other girls and the way they sailed. It was a super close finish.”

    Reigning World Champions Odile van Aanholt & Annette Duetz (NED) managed to win silver on tiebreak against the rapidly improving team from Argentina, Maria Sol and Cecilia Carranza (ARG).

    In the ILCA 6 the silver and bronze medallists were Australia’s Zoe Thomson and Bouwmeester’s Dutch team mate Maxime Jonker respectively. While Britain’s Beckett is the only sailor to retain a title won here last year, his conclusive win left New Zealand’s George Only the ILCA 6 and ILCA 7, Women’s and Men’s gold medals were pre-ordained, Marit Bouwmeester of Holland and Britain’s Micky Beckett clinching the top awards on Friday before today’s medal races.

    Although Keiji Okada and Miho Yoshioka (JPN) struggled in the Medal Race, their points gap from the Gold Fleet racing was sufficient for the Japanese to win the 470 Mixed gold medal. “We had very different conditions this week,” said Okada. “So I’m very happy to win. Palma is such a beautiful place and we have enjoyed out time here. Now we keep pushing, keep training and on to the next races in Europe.” Winning the Medal Race was good enough for reigning World Champions Luise Wanser & Philipp Autenrieth (GER) to rise to silver medal position, knocking down last year’s Palma winners, Jordi Xammar and Nora Brugman (ESP), to the bronze medal.

    The 52 Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mallorca Iberostar is the first of the four Sailing World Cup Events of 2023. At 16 months before the opening of the 2024 Paris Olympics it attracted a record entry of 976 teams and 1259 sailors from 66 countries (503 women, 760 men) in ten Olympic classes + ORC and OD classes who competed the previous weekend. The huge event was contested over six days of racing on 8 racing areas and is managed between the three yacht clubs. This week saw winds from 5kts to one day of the pure Embat sea breeze which reached 20kts on Wednesday. Sustainability is a major focus for the event through collaborations with Trueworld, Iberostar Wave of Change and Vell Mar?.

    The next 2023 WSC event - French Olympic Week, Hyeres (22-29 April).
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