Jonathan Lobert (FRA), the London 2012 bronze medallist, leads the 74 boat Finn fleet after the first day of racing at the Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofia Iberostar in Palma. Current world champion, Giles Scott (GBR) sits in second with Tapio Nirkko (FIN) third.
It was not an easy day for anyone with the wind playing tricks all day on the white-capped Bay of Palma. Both sailors and race committees had to juggle with big shifts and pressure differences between 4 and 20 knots, though the forecast was for much more, and a lot more wind was felt elsewhere in the bay during the day.
Scott took the first race after taking the lead at the downwind gate. Philip Toth (USA) rounded the mark in the lead from Alejandro Foglia (URU) and Björn Allansson (SWE). Allansson takes up the story.
“The first race was great for me. I had good speed and smart tactics. I rounded top mark in third and on the downwind I moved up to second. I chose the left gate while Giles moved up to first round the other gate. On the second beat a shift to the right came in, giving Giles and me a bit of distance to the others.”
Allansson crossed in second with returning London 2012 silver medallist Jonas Høgh-Christensen (DEN) in third.
A huge shift upset the outcome of the second race which was abandoned while the front pack, led by Pieter-Jan Postma (NED), was just 10 boatlengths from the finish line.
On the second attempt, the wind died while the fleet was rounding the bottom mark and a few unlucky boats such as Martin Robitaille (CAN) and Josh Junior (NZL) went from fifth to 60th. Jonathan Lobert (FRA) successfully avoided the local doldrums to take the win from Zsombor Berecz (HUN) and Egor Terpigorev (RUS). Lobert also took the overall lead.
Lobert said, “Today was a very shifty day with the wind very up and down. I am happy with my day I managed to be in the good move with the shifts. On the second race I had a good second upwind to be second at the top mark and I passed the Russian on the last downwind.”
Scott said on his day, “Well, it was pretty difficult conditions today with a very shifty north-westerly. It was made even more difficult by some marginal calls on when to abandon and when not to. Unfortunately as well with the second race after the abandonment they decided to start us with no anchor down on the pin end boat and were also unable to get a windward mark laid in time for the fleet.”
“But my day was OK given how tricky it was. There were some big losses out there for some really good sailors. So we'll have to see what tomorrow brings.”
Allansson continued, “The second race made the first one look easy, with the wind dropping down and with massive shifts, but it was abandoned at the last downwind mark. Then we had another attempt in even shifter and gustier conditions. So today the Finn fleet had kind of three races. The whole day was all about meeting the wind, playing it smart and sometimes having a bit of luck.”
Lobert has had a quieter winter than most sailors here after spending most of his time training at home in La Rochelle. He said, “Since Santander I have been sailing and training most of the time in La Rochelle except for two weeks in Rio in November. I had to spend some time at home, and I think this winter and cold training is a good return to the basics and it gives me great motivation for the season.”
Lobert has picked up a string of medals in various events, including the Olympics but has never medalled at a major championship such as the worlds or Europeans, something he is determined to put right in 2015. “This year my goal is to keep on working on the French mast project and try to get competitive with it in all conditions. In term of results I am still chasing my first win in a major championship.”
He has had a lot of fourth places in recent years. “I am not a superstitious man so I don’t look back. I am just looking forward to the next championship and I will try to do my best as always. My dad always told me that the most important thing in sailing is to have fun, and I still have a lot of fun on the water.”
At the end of a difficult day most of the sailors had fun in the choppy conditions, but most have seen both ends of the fleet with some high scores across the board
Racing continues in Palma until Saturday 4 April, when the medal race for the top 10 will be sailed.
Results after two races
1 FRA 112 13 Jonathan Lobert 7
2 GBR 41 6 Giles Scott 9
3 FIN 218 26 Tapio Nirkko 14
4 FRA 29 9 Thomas Le Breton 18
5 CRO 524 1 Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic 20
6 SWE 6 4 Björn Allansson 22
7 ESP 8 34 Pablo Guitián Sarria 23
8 AUS 41 3 Jake Lilley 25
9 CRO 69 17 Milan Vujasinovic 25
10 RUS 57 22 Egor Terpigorev 30