Saturday, 16 April 2011

2011 Trofeo Princesa Sofia MAPFRE title for Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson in the Star. Medal races to decide champions in Palma on Saturday

Iain Percy and Andrew (Bart) Simpson win the Stars in Palma. Image copyright Jesus Renedo/Princesa Sofia/MAPFRE.

by Corinne Rolland-McKenzie

Two final races completed on Friday in the 2011 Trofeo Princesa Sofia MAPFRE have decided the top ten sailors in each Olympic class who will compete in the medal race Saturday. With the same conditions encountered since Tuesday, there was not many surprises as the top three in most classes remain unchanged.

For Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson, the Medal race will be a formality! The Gold medallists have sailed to consistent results in a talented fleet and have acquired such a lead that they are assured of Gold in the event. However, the fight will remain for the five following teams all eligible for a podium tomorrow. Diego Negri and Torben Grael 's team have remained in second and third.
It wasn't a dream day for Marazzi and de Maria (SUI) who took a penalty on the start of the day's first race and broke their mast in the second.

“We’ve had a good week” says Percy, “and things have gone well but it was kind of one of those times where things worked out and some of our rivals didn’t have good weeks. The result shows us to be a little bit further ahead than maybe we are, but still we’re really happy. It’s nice to win an event after such a long time away.”

The top three remain the same in the RS:X classes with Marina Alabau (ESP) starting in the medal race with a good lead over her opponents. She has already secured her a Gold or Silver. Charline Picon (FRA) is also insured to finish on the podium opened to the top five.

“I don't usually perform in the conditions we had these last few days but I feel really well this week. Tomorrow will be a three way battle between Marina, Laura and me. I have a chance for Gold if Marina makes a mistake but my main objective will be to secure the Silver.”

Laura Linares (ITA) and Alessandra Sensini who are competing in Palma in their first Olympic selection event are two places apart.

“My objective is to do as best as I can and will give my best tomorrow. I will not look out for Alessandra and will concentrate to gain places on the podium.” explains Linares (ITA).

In the RS:X women and men divisions, the podium is opened to the top five. Dorian van Rijsselberge (NED) is conserving the lead and can not stepped down from the podium. Byron Kokalanis's good races today (1-3) have sent him to 5th overall and within reach of a medal.

For Dyen/Christidis (FRA) and the Sibello (ITA) brothers, the medal race will be deciding who takes Gold and Silver. It will be an interesting race within the Medal race! Allan Norregaard and Peter Lang (DEN) are the favourite for Bronze with a seven points lead over their closest rival. However, the Bronze will also be the direct objective for sailors placed up to eighth overall!

The Finn battle for Gold will follow the same scenario as the 49ers with only Ben Ainslie and Giles Scott (GBR) standing a chance for Gold. The two British are continuing to race to top places with Ben Ainslie wining the first Sailing World Cup event Sail Melbourne, and Giles Scott, the second in Miami. With top two places secured in Palma they are sure to increase their lead in the SWC standings.

“We’ll see how I get on tomorrow. The medal races are always tight, it’s obviously double points so I’ve got to go out and sail another good race and hopefully I can do that and make it all count.” explains Ainslie.

With only two points separating the top three Lasers, tomorrow's medal race will be intense between World Champion Tom Slingsby (AUS), Gold medallist Paul Goodison (GBR), and Nick Thomson who is leading the Sailing World Cup standings after winning Sail Melbourne. New-Zealanders Sam Meech and Andrew Murdoch following 18 points behind on equal points have a small chance for bronze.

The top three haven't changed in the 470 men going into tomorrow's medal race. While seven teams have a chance for a medal, only the top four can pretend for Gold. Nicolas Charbonnier and Jérémie Mion (FRA) have slightly extended their lead on team mate Pierre Leboucher and Vincent Garos (FRA) who will try to keep their Trofeo Princesa Sofia title.

“Today was good for us,” admits Charbonnier, “we have increased the points with the seconds.” For the newly formed team, the Princesa Sofia MAPFRE was also the occasion to tune their act together. “We have learned a lot here, especially the areas where we have to work to better our sailing. So it is a very positive week.”

The top three remain the same in the 470 women fleet but the teams have exchanged places. Jo Aleh and Bianca Babarich-Barber (NZL) are back in the lead in front of Japanese Ai Kondo and Wakako Tabata (JAP) and in third early leaders Cohen/Vered from Israel. Penny Clark and Katrina Hughes (GBR) in fourth place can technically get to any medal.

The medal race in the Laser radial will start with a new leader. Sara Winther (NZL) takes the lead from Evi van Acker (BEL) after placing 11th in the first race and winning the next. The score is tight between the top 10 and the podium opened to all medal racers! Today best results went to Gintare Scheidt (LTU) who climbs to fourth overall after a first and a second in today's races and is in contention for Gold.

2010 World Champion, Thierry Schmitter (NED) has successfully defended his title in the 2.4 competition after winning six out of ten races. The Dutch especially enjoyed the strong breeze on the first day: "It was great fun, We should have racing like that more often." Second overall was Heiko Kroger from Germany and Megan Pascoe (GBR) third.

“It’s always nice to come away with a World Cup medal – it would have been nice to have a different colour but that’s life and I did my best with what I had on the last day.” says Pascoe.

Another beautiful day on Palma Bay for the Women’s Match Racing fleet at the 42nd Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofia MAPFRE. The conditions were fantastic for some great battles in the Quarter-Finals and Semi-Finals.

Silja Lehtinen (FIN) won her Quarter-Final over Silke Hahlbrock (GER) 3-0 and awaited her opponent. Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) saw her unbeaten streak ended by Stephanie Hazard (NZL), but rebounded to win her Quarter-Final 3-1. Claire Leroy (FRA) defeated her countrywoman Anne-Claire Le Berre (FRA) 3-1 to reach the Semi-Finals. The battle between Sally Barkow (USA) and Lucy Macgregor (GBR) came down to the 5th and final match with Barkow victorious and winning the knock-out series 3-2 to advance.

This set up an American battle in Semi-Final One between Tunnicliffe and Barkow and a Finnish-French match between Lehtinen and Leroy in Semi-Final Two.

Lehtinen won the first match, then Leroy tied it up. Lehtinen won the next two to secure her spot in tomorrow’s Final.

“We had reached the Quarter Finals twice before, but we had never advanced. So, this was a big thing for us. Our goal for the event was to get to the Quarter Finals, so everything from here on is a bonus. There are a lot of great teams here and just getting to the top eight is very difficult. We have been training a lot Tomorrow we will just keep doing what we have been doing, nothing special. We made some big gains in our training before Miami as well and we’ll just keep doing what we’ve been doing.” explained Silja Lehtinen.

In the other Semi-Final, the two American teams – Sally Barkow and Anna Tunnicliffe – fought down to the wire in an exciting 5 match series which came down to a near phot finish with Barkow’s team victorious.

“The key for today was that we really tried to be patient and not make any aggressive mistakes. Every time we were getting all fired up, we just tried to calm down and keep it simple. And I thought we had really good boatspeed and good boathandling and used it to our advantage. Just a really tough battle with Anna (Tunnicliffe) - it was back and forth more times than I can remember and so we were just pleased to win by inches in the end. We’ll just stick to the same game plan – we’re going well through the water, so we’ll just try to win the starts and go from there.” commented Sally Barkow after her Semi-Final win.

The Finals will see Lehtinen and Barkow. And Leroy will meet Tunnicliffe in the Petit-Finals.

Sally Barkow (USA) defeats Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) 3-2
Silja Lehtinen (FIN) defeats Claire Leroy (FRA) 3-1

5. Stephanie Hazard (NZL)
6. Anne-Claire Le Berre (FRA)
7. Lucy Macgregor (GBR)
8. Silke Hahlbrock (GER)

Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) defeats Stephanie Hazard (NZL) 3-1
Claire Leroy (FRA) defeats Anne-Claire Le Berre (FRA) 3-1
Silja Lehtinen (FIN) defeats Silke Hahlbrock (GER) 3-0
Sally Barkow (USA) defeats Lucy Macgregor (GBR) 3-2
Women's Match-Racing information courtesy Liz Bayliz / WIMRA

The medal races are sheduled from 11AM on Saturday 9th of April. They will be sailed on three courses set close to the shore. The Women Match Racing finals will take place in front of the Palma Cathedral.

Trofeo Princesa Sofia MAPFRE