The final day of the 48th Trofeo Princesa Sofia IBEROSTAR on Mallorca’s Bay of Palma will be a test for sailors but also for the new formats which are designed to produce simpler, more engaging action on the last day.
The prime example might be Saturday’s Finn finale which is now pared back to a five boat winner takes all showdown. First to cross the finish line wins the regatta. Accumulated, qualifying points count for nothing. Semi Final Qualifying and Semi Final positions do not mean anything.
Whoever wins between Turkey’s Alican Kaynar, Deniss Karpak of Estonia, Sweden’s Max Salminen, Zsombor Berecz of Hungary and Holland’s young Nick Heiner collects the regatta title for the class.
Medals to be decided, formats under test on thrilling big breeze final day at the Trofeo Princesa Sofia Iberostar
But some sailors or crews are already assured of leaving Palma with medals. Poland’s 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Zofia Klepacka and Spain’s Ivan Pastor, both winners of their Opening Series go straight to the three board RS:X Grand Final and are therefore both guaranteed a medal. The RS:X Men and Women race through a final day 10 board Qualifier and six board Semi Final to leave just three sailors in their respective Grand Finals.
The German FX duo Victoria Jurczok and Anika Lorenz appear to have beaten the FX and 49er change to three races Final format by amassing a lead of 38 points going into their final day, ansd are assured of gold. They wobbled with a tenth in their penultimate race but then bounced back with their seventh win from 15 starts.
“It was pretty challenging out there.” Said crew Lorenz, “We went out so late and they had to move the whole course. The first race there were only the guys in front of us when it was really breezy. The second race we smashed up the start but the third race we won. It is comfortable to go into the final day with such a lead but it will be challenging because the forecast is for it to be windy.”
Also guaranteed a medal, gold or silver, are Nacra 17 leaders Fernando Echávarri and Tara Pachecho. Spain’s 2008 Beijing Tornado gold medallist seized the lead today and have now sailed a 1,1,1,2 from their last four races, leading Britain’s John Gimson and Anna Burnett by 16 points. So the Spanish duo who have been together in the class since just after the 2014 Santander Worlds are assured of at least silver, going into a conventional 10 boat one race Medal Race.
In contrast the 49er Men’s Skiff is poised for an exciting showdown. Under the usual Olympic Medal Race format that young Brits James Peters and Fynn Sterrit go into the Medal Race with a 25 points lead over Argentina’s fourth placed Lange brothers Yago and Klaus would normally have at least ensured a medal of some colour was assured for the British duo.
But the new three heat, single points Medal Race for the top 10 pairs changes the dynamic for the Finale. Peters and Sterritt lead their Spanish counterparts Diego Botin and Iago Lopez by a single point while Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell, third at 13pts behind their countrymen, still have a fighting chance of adding the Palma title to January’s Sailing World Cup Miami win. Fletcher and 2012 Olympic silver medallist Bithell had a 12th today but otherwise have never been out the top three during the eight other Finals races.
“We are just looking forwards to a good battle for the gold. These guys are all good competitors so it will be tough. The last race did not go our way. But we know we have what we have to win this regatta and are going to go out and do everything that we can to win the regatta.” Helm James Peters asserted.
Unmatched consistency sees young British Laser helm Eliot Hanson holding the lead into a final day which may yield his first major regatta win at senior level. He finished the Finals series with a 2,1 to lead Italian rival Francesco Marrai into the Laser Medal Race, a conventional 10 boat one race double points showdown.
Hanson has had time away from Laser sailing since he trained with Nick Thompson prior to Rio 2016 and admits to coming to this regatta fresh and hungry for success.
“Today it was good to put some points into the guys who are also in medal contention and now there is a chance to try and finish it off tomorrow." He said, "I made a few mistakes in the regatta but then I am sure most people have, but overall I have remained among the most consistent all week. After training with Nick Thompson before Rio I took some time off and so I am certainly fresh. I am getting back to racing sharpness. There are a few of the top guys missing here, the Aussies, Kiwis and a few of the other good Europeans but the fleet here, as it always is in the Laser, is strong and deep and so it is really good, hard racing. I am feeling good. I am racing well and I am looking forwards to it.”
Outcomes are harder to predict in the Laser Radial and the 470 Men and Women where points are very tight. Just one point separates China’s Dongshuang Zhang from Lithuania’s Victorija Andrulyte. In the 470 Men and Women the margin is just five points in both classes. Sweden’s Carl-Frederick Fock and Marcus Dackhammar hold on to first place ahead of Spain’s Rio selection Jordi Xammer and Nicolas Rodriguez, while Greece’s 2016 bronze medallists Pangiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kaglialis are 24 points off first. Both 470 classes now race one single eight boat medal race Saturday.
Dackhammar, the leading 470 helm commented: “We are enjoying the sailing out there, it’s been fun. We have managed to pull off the starts well, we have good speed and really are just enjoying the sailing. This is key point for us. Tomorrow anything can happen!”
Spanish rival Xammar pledges:
“ Tomorrow we cannot be conservative. We have to fight for the gold. It’s better to fight and lose than to wait to see what happens and end up losing as well. We will focus on our performance. If we work hard we plan to make it hard for our rivals.”