Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Palma Day 2 - Ainslie Replies with 2 Bullets

Finns in Palma on Day 2. Image copyright Jesus Renedo/Princesa Sofia/MAPFRE.

by Robert Deaves

A complete weather change in Palma on day two of the Trofeo SAR Princesa Sofia brought an early postponement and sometricky races as some new faces came to the front. A double win from Ben Ainslie (GBR) takes him to the top followed by Giles Scott (GBR) andPieter-Jan Postma (NED). Other heat wins today went to Brendan Casey (AUS) and Jorge Zarif (BRA)

Day two in Palma started with the calmafter the storm - lots of sore legs and tired arms after Monday’s strong winds and waiting around in the sunshine as all classes were postponedashore waiting for the wind to arrive. Overall leader this morning Giles Scott (GBR) said, “It was possibly the hardest of all conditions andthe legs are feeling it today.”

But the wind filled in and race three got under way in a shifty 10 knot north-easterly which faded away during duringthe race.Yellow fleet got away first with Ben Ainslie (GBR) leading team mate and training partner Mark Andrews (GBR) across the finish with DanSlater (NZL) in third. In the blue fleet Brendan Casey (AUS) posted a win followed by Michele Paoletti (ITA) and Björn Allansson (SWE).

After a wait for the south-westerly sea breeze to fill in race four got underway just after 16.00, again fading awaytowards the end of the race. Ainslie won his second race of the day from Slater and Vasilij Zbogar (SLO), while the 2009 Junior world champion JorgeZarif (BRA) took the blue fleet from Pieter-Jan Postma (NED and Thomas Le Breton (FRA).

With a 3-2 today, fifth overall Dan Slater was happier with his results than on the opening day. He said, “I wasgoing fast yesterday but as it took 36 hours to fly to Europe then another two days drive to get to Palma I was a bit out of phase really. Today I hadgood starts and was able to sail my race without being affected by many boats.” For him the key to the racing was, “good starts and clearlanes,” and the goal this week, to “just try and get some good results and learn as much as we can.”

On the current regatta leader he said, “Ben has been sailing smart and as always his downwind speed gave him20-30 metres on me in both races. In the first race he won by a good margin because the breeze had died out but it wasn't a big distance and thesecond race he was just 5-6 boat lengths ahead.”

Finns in Palma on Day 2. Image copyright Jesus Renedo/Princesa Sofia/MAPFRE.

After a fantastic opening day on Monday with a 1, 2 Tapio Nirkko didn't fare so well on Tuesday. “Today theracing was challenging as pressure areas were quite local sometimes and also the shifts were remarkably big. I didn't manage to get any rythym on thecourse today. For me the day was nothing but struggling big time. It was a difficult day.”

The top German Finn sailor in Palma is Jan Kurfeld (GER), currently lying in 14th place after a string ofconsistent top results. “Today was not really easier [than yesterday] although the wind was not that strong like yesterday, but because we were6-7 hours on the water. It was pretty hot and the races were also pretty long and tactical.”

“My goal this week is top 20. I have been training in Mallorca since November mostly with the German team andsometimes with some guys from other countries. Today I lost some places unnecessarily, but so far I am pretty happy.”

Third in race three was Bjorn Allansson. “I really pushed to do my own race and after a start at the committeeboat, and a fast tack I had a good position on the fleet real fast. This was the most significant move of the race. After first downwind I played mostof the remaining race alone, and was not able to catch ITA 146 and AUS 1, but was far ahead of the others.”

Allanson is one of three Swedes here vying for an Olympic place, following extensive training in Perth, Miami and nowthree weeks in Palma. “I am taking one race at the time, trying to do my best in every situation. But after two, for me, tricky days, the medalrace look very far away.” With the Swedish trials taking in Hyeres, Weymouth, the Europeans in Helsinki and the Worlds in Perth, there is a longway to go.

With a huge fleet of 85 boats, the move to have qualifying fleets and gold/silver races is unusual for the Finn class,which is more used to racing in large fleets. However second overall Giles Scott is enjoying the different format. “I think it makes a bit of achange and for Palma it's a good idea. It makes the starts get away quicker.”

There is one more day of the qualifying groupings before gold and silver finals on Thursday and Friday and the medalrace for the top 10 on Saturday.

Results after 4 races:

1 GBR 3 Ben AINSLIE 11
2 GBR 41 Giles SCOTT 13
3 NED 842 Pieter-Jan POSTMA 19
4 AUS 1 BrendanCASEY 19
5 NZL 1 Dan SLATER 20
6 ITA 117 Giorgio POGGI 22
7 FRA 29 Thomas Le BRETON 27
8 SLO 573 Vasilij ZBOGAR 28
9 SLO5 Gasper VINCEC 29
10 GBR 11 Ed WRIGHT 29

Finn Class
Trofeo Princesa Sofia MAPFRE