Saturday, 16 April 2011

Ben Ainslie Ultimate Winner of the Trofeo Princesa Sofia MAPFRE

Ben Ainslie (GBR) - overall winner of the Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofia MAPFRE 2011. Image copyright Nico Martinez/Proncesa Sofia/MAPFRE.

Winners in Palma, including Sara Winther (NZL, Laser Radial), and Jo Aleh and Bianca Barbarich-Bacher (NZL, Women's 470). Image copyright Nico Martinez/Princesa Sofia/MAPFRE.

by Corinne Rolland-McKenzie

The medal races and Women Match racing finals have crowned today the champions in the 42 Trofeo Princesa Sofia MAPFRE in Palma.

The Women Match racing finals were a hard fought battle with Silja Lehtinen, Silja Kanerva, Mikaela Wulff (FIN) taking the first match bya small margin, then Sally Barkow, Elizabeth Kratzig-Burnham, Alana O’Reilly (USA) winning the next three close matches to win the Goldmedal.

“It feels really good to win a Sailing World Cup event. We came into this event thinking it was going to be a kind of warm upleading up to the first phase of the U.S. Trials in May. We really showed a lot of progress through the event and that was really important. We stillhave a lot to work on and we’re off to Weymouth next week to train with the rest of the U.S. Team then on to Hyères.” commented Sally Barkow (USA) after the win.

Sally Barkow (USA) wins the Women's Match Racing. Image copyright Jesus Renedo/Princesa Sofia/MAPFRE.

The Finals and Petit-Finals were sailed in perfect conditions after the sea breeze filled in around midday to a steady 7-10 knots. ThePetit-Finals saw Anna Tunnicliffe, Molly Vandemoer, and Deb Capozzi (USA) defeat Claire Leroy, Marie Riou, and Claire Pruvot (FRA) in two straightmatches to win the Bronze medal.

In many classes, yesterday leaders kept their early position after the double pointers medal race to win the title.

Ben Ainslie (GBR) winner of thr Finn Class and overall trophy for the lowest pointscore. Image copyright Jesus Renedo/Princesa Sofia/MAPFRE.

For Ben Ainslie (GBR), who was playing for Gold or Silver, winning the medal race from start to finish settled the questions. Giles Scott (GBR)kept Silver and Thomas Lebreton (FRA), the bronze.

Ben Ainslie, coming back to the Finn after a break sailing in the Match racing circuit, is successful with a win in Sail Melbourne a second inMiami and a second SWC win in Palma. The Olympic champion is also taking the Ultimate Trophy which crowns the best sailor across all classes in theevent.

“The come back to the Finn has been hard work. I need to work more on my fitness. It is good to see the other British do well, it ismotivating and is good for sailing in England.” Ainslie's next stop will be Hyères and Sail for Gold for the start of the British Olympicselections.

The Gold medallist is slightly increasing his lead on the SWC standings over Giles Scott, but the two British are sailing away from Zach Railey(USA) in third place.

Dorian van Rijsselberge (NED) won the Men's RS:X. Image copyright Jesus Renedo/Princesa Sofia/MAPFRE.

Dorian van Rijsselberge (NED), Tom Ashley (NZL) and Nick Dempsey (GBR) kept a strong hold on their early lead to take the podium in the RS:Xclass. Dempsey takes second place behind the Dutch in the Sailing World Cup standings.

“I feel really happy with my results.” says Dorian van Rijsselberge. “It was a wonderful regatta, with sunshine and plenty ofwind! My goal here was to finish in the top three and winning is always very nice.”

Marina Alabau (ESP) who has been leading the event since the second day, wins the Trofeo Princesa Sofia MAPFRE for the first time. Charline Picon (FRA) remains in second to take silver. Coming into the medal race in third, Laura Linares (ITA) suffered from an early startdisqualification in the Medal race. The last place on the podium goes to her rival and first day leader Alessandra Sensini (ITA) who placed third inthe Medal race. Marina Alabau (ESP) takes also the lead in the Sailing World Cup.

Alessandra Sensini (ITA) won bronze in the Women's RS:X. Image copyright Jesus Renedo/Princesa Sofia/MAPFRE.

With victory going to Percy and Simpson (GBR) on the penultimate racing day, the battle on the Star medal race was for Silver and Bronze. Robert Stanjeck and Frithjof Kleen (GER) got to their best placing in the event to win second overall on equal points with Torben Grael /MarceloFeirrera (BRA) and Diego Negri /Enrico Voltolini (ITA).

Manu Dyen and Stéphane Christidis (FRA) successfully defend their title in Palma. This is the tenth time the French duo compete in theSpanish event. Today they transformed their early lead into Gold after a Medal race where the Italians nearly succeeded in taking thechampionship.

“We had a god start with the Italians just behind us. On the first beat we fell in an area with less wind. The Sibello passed us and hada good gap on us at the mark, enough to take the regatta.” A good gybe set at the bottom gate reduced the distance and gave the French theadvantage and the title.

Pietro and Gianfranco Sibello (ITA) conserves the Silver. The bronze was up for grab by the next six teams. The Danish team of AllanNorregaard and Peter Lang (DEN), favourites for the Bronze, missed their chance after finishing 9th in the Medal Race. It is the AustriansDelle-Karth/Reisch who take the bronze.

New teams sail to success in 470

In the 470 as well, the top two kept their early position after the medal race to secure a place on the podium and points towards the SailingWorld Cup Standings. French Nicolas Charbonnier and Jérémie Mion (FRA), sailing together since last February have found their mark andtransformed the last two training months into success. “There are still many points to adjust but this week was a good test for us as newteam.”

When asked about their objectives and the French selection coming soon in Hyères, the Olympic bronze medallist answers that“winning the next Olympics is the main goal” and that they will not be distracted by anything else. Pierre Leboucher and Vincent Garoskeep the second place overall but lose the title won last year.

Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell (GBR) climb on the podium to grab third place after a 4th in the Medal race.

In the 470 women, one week training together, seemed to be enough for Jo Aleh and Bianca Barbarich-Barber (NZL), who claimed victory in their first event together. Ai Kondo and Wakako Tabata (JAP) conserve second position and the Israeli team of Gil Cohen and Bouskila Vered, thethird.

Penny Clark and Katrina Hughes (GBR) fourth in Palma places them ahead of the Sailing World Cup standings.

There is a new champion in the Laser class with Olympic Gold medallist, Paul Goodison winning the event on the last day. The results were tightamong the top three and the medal race decisive. A two places gap was enough for Goodison to take Gold from World Champion, Tom Slingsby (AUS) who hasto settle for Silver. Sail Melbourne winner, Nick Thompson (GBR) keeps the Bronze and extends his lead on the Sailing World Cupstandings.

Sarah Winther (NZL) takes Gold in the Radial with Evi van Acker (BEL) keeping second place. Gintare Scheidt (LTU) wins the medal race and thethird place on the podium.

“I am very happy with my week.” says Winther, “I didn't come here to win, I used this event to work on some key things.Racing in Palma was awesome this year, surely the best.”

Sailors will be heading to the next Sailing World Cup event starting in two weeks in Hyères.

Trofeo Princesa Sofia MAPFRE