London 2012 bronze medalist Jonathan Lobert (FRA) leads the Finn fleet after the opening day of the Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofía MAPFRE in Palma de Mallorca as big winds and big waves provided challenging conditions for the 72 boat fleet.
Race wins for Lobert and Giles Scott (GBR) leave them both on zero points at the top though a capsize for Scott in race two while he was leading gives him higher total points.
After a general recall first race got away with big pin bias on the line. Andrew Mills (GBR) said, “The forecast was for a big shift to the right though so some guys came from the right and others did well out the pin. I rounded third with PJ, Giles, Jonathan and Vasiliy. Then myself Giles and PJ did the second beat a little better than Jonathan and Vasiliy. The last downwind a bit of a procession, but really nice conditions, 18 knots and big waves.”
Lobert said, “Today was quite windy with massive waves. Very nice sailing conditions. In the first race I was playing with PJ and Giles after the first lap but on the second upwind I went on the left and the wind was shifting right so I lost few boats. In the second race there was a bit more wind and I was second just behind PJ on the first mark but Giles passed us on the run. At the last mark Giles capsized on the gybe and PJ also capsized on top of him so they go stuck together so I just passed them to win the race.”
Palma is Lobert's first big regatta since last year's Games. “I am very happy to be back in the boat. I have spent a lot of time since the Games to try to find sponsorship with no success yet so just be back doing what I like to do is really nice. In term of motivation it's not so hard to find something to focus on. I won the bronze after five years in the Finn but I know I have a lot to improve if I want to get gold in Rio. I have also never won a world cup event and I have never been on the podium in the world championship.
Palma also marks the return of 2011 world champion Scott, though he is only scheduled to take part in two regattas this year due to America's Cup commitments. He says he will be back full time in 2014 to begin his campaign for Rio2016 in earnest.
After a slight delay race two got away as the breeze picked up to 25-26 knots. Mills explained, “Again it was a pin end bias, and they were having a little trouble keeping committee boat end anchored in the huge waves and breeze building to 25 or 26 knots. Again boats came from both sides, with a big shift on the right. On the last downwind the breeze piped up to a proper 25 knots and got pretty lively, most people starting to hang on and a good fun run. Most of us also survived the breaking waves at the harbour entrance.”
New Zealand is fencing a strong team with Josh Junior (NZL) and Andrew Murdoch (NZL) competing. Junior placed 7 and 26 putting him 10th overall, while Murdoch sailed a ninth and an 18 to hold 12th overall. Murdoch said, “I am certainly learning a few things on the job. This is my first international event so a great chance to line up with the rest of the world and see what needs working on. I've been here for a few days training and it's great to get racing under way.
Racing continues to Saturday.
Event website: www.trofeoprincesasofia.org