Twenty-four teams from eighteen countries are in Palma de Mallorca, Spain to compete for the Women's Match Racing title at the 42nd Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofia MAPFRE. In addition to the individual event title, the teams are competing for the overall 2010-2011 ISAF Sailing World Cup (SWC) title. The final SWC standings will be used to determine which twelve countries will be invited to the Olympic Test Event in Weymouth in August 2011. The Princesa Sofia is one of six stops on the Sailing World Cup series in which women's match racing is contested.
The teams will compete in equally matched event-provided Elliott 6m keelboats - the same boats that will be used in the 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition in Weymouth, England.
The field will be extremely competitive with 16 of the top 20 teams in the ISAF World Rankings competing in Palma. Amongst the favorites are Claire Leroy (FRA), Renee Groeneveld (NED), Nicky Souter (AUS), Lucy Macgregor (GBR), Anna Tunnicliffe (USA), and Ekaterina Skudina (RUS).
Claire Leroy (FRA), (above) as well as being the 2009-2010 SWC champion, won the Rolex Miami OCR in January to take the early lead in the 2010-2011 series. 'Last week we trained with Team Tunnicliffe, it was exciting, so now we would like to fight in the race conditions! Palma is one of the best places for sailing. Having our matches right in front of the Cathedral is really fantastic - it is like sailing in Sydney in front of the Opera House!'
The defending champion from the 2010 Trofeo Princesa Sofia, Renee Groeneveld (NED), is looking forward to racing in Palma: 'We are really looking forward to race at the Princesa Sofia, we have trained at the RCNP a couple of weeks last winter. It's one of our favorite World Cup stops because of the nice venue, good races, friendly people and of course the good weather! By winning the Spanish Championship in the Elliotts last week we proved to be in good shape, so we are sure to give the other teams a hard time!'
Silver medalist at last year's event, Nicky Souter (AUS), is is hungry to improve upon her previous results: 'Racing is always the best indicator of how our training and preperation has been going at home. Its quite hard to us to know how we are fairing up against all the other teams when we are so far away so we are very excited to be back in Palma. We love Palma - last year was our first world cup event here and we enjoyed the variety in conditions and the backdrop of the cathedral. We were a bit disappointed with our result in Miami as our Quarter-finals were so close (3-2) against Claire. We learnt a few lessons in Miami and have worked on them in training back at home. Its always nice to win the SWC events and we are pretty hungry to win this event as we finished 2nd here last year.'
Current World Champion, Lucy Macgregor (GBR), feels good about the teams preparation: 'Annie, Kate and I are really looking forward to racing at Princesa Sofia. It will be our first event racing together in the Elliott since Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta last year so it will be a good test as to how our training has been going. We are delighted to be working with a new coach and new sponsors this year which we believe will support us in making big gains in our campaign in this critical year before the Olympics. Exciting times all round really!'
Beijing Gold medalist, Anna Tunnicliffe (USA), and runner-up in Miami in January, is looking forward to seeing if the months of training will pay off: 'We are excited to see our competition again since it has been a while since Miami. We have done a lot of practicing since Miami and want to see where we stand with all of our training. We know everyone has been training hard and the competition will be tough, but at the same time, this will be a great event.'
Russian skipper, Ekaterina Skudina, had one win in the 2010 SWC in Kiel, Germany, and is looking towards getting back on the podium: 'We have spent nearly all winter training in Barcelona and wind conditions were perfect. We had all kinds of wind and waves so we could sail from really light to strong wind up to 25 knots. We are still working on tactics and elements, so we had Lucy Macgregor and Anna Tunnicliffe there during this winter-spring sessions. Also we were working with 2nd Russian crew with skipper Eugeniy Neugodnikov (our coach in tactics). So everything was very good.'
Racing begins on Monday, 4 April, in Palma and continues through Saturday, 9 April. For more information, visit
WIMRA ORG orTROFEO PRINCESA SOFIA
(images courtesy WIMRA )
– but the sailors praise the new boats
Photo Credit: Dario Belingheri/Bettini Photo
photo David Cannon/Getty images