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Racing Heats Up Ahead Of Final Series In Mallorca
The qualification series at ISAF Sailing World Cup Mallorca – Trofeo Princesa Sofia concluded on Tuesday 1 April with sailors gearing up for a tough three days of final series racing.
For the 1,130 sailors from 55 nations the second day of racing meant do or die as the places for the final series of racing were decided.
Racing got off to a late start in the afternoon with a light morning breeze ensuring Palma Bay resembled a shiny pane of glass.
When the first race got underway after 14:00 local time a moderate 5 knot breeze that picked up to 10 knots saw the light wind specialists continue their strong early form. Racing in the one Paralympic and ten Olympic events concluded at 19:30.
Franck Cammas and Sophie de Turckheim (FRA) held on to their lead in the Nacra 17 with a steady race day.
After five races the French pair have a two point lead over compatriots Billy Besson and Marie Riou and Great Britain's Ben Saxton and Hannah Diamond who are tied on 11 points.
On his day Cammas said, "We weren't sailing as well as yesterday in terms of speed but in the end we finished sixth and second so not so bad. It was very tricky because there were lots of shifts and we waited a long time for enough wind to race. In the end it was two good races on the trapeze.”
With stronger breeze forecast for the remainder of the week Cammas and de Turckheim made the most of their favoured conditions early on and with gold fleet racing starting on Wednesday things will only get tougher, "We are for sure very happy to lead. We are better in the light wind and I think tomorrow and the next days will be different so I think it's good to take more points now. The game will be completely different with the breeze coming in from the west later this week.
"What is interesting in this class is that the level of many sailors is very high and the fight is always interesting and exciting for us. We will see in the different conditions how Billy Besson and [Darren] Bundock get on because they know the Nacra very well and we have to improve in these conditions.
"We trained a lot in the winter and hopefully we've improved because last year we were very bad.”
The French team has a wonderful pool of multihull talent to choose from. Despite only four Santander 2014 ISAF Worlds spots available and one Rio 2016 Olympic Games position Cammas sees the strength and relationships within the team as a valuable asset, "We need everybody together to keep improving. It's very comfortable to have the best Nacra 17 sailors around us when we train and I hope we continue like that as long as possible before the Olympic Games.”
Yellow fleet race wins were taken by Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders (NZL) and Besson and Riou. ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami victors Vittorio Bissaro and Silvia Sicouri (ITA) and compatriots Federica Salvà and Francesco Bianchi picked up the blue fleet bullets.
One race in the split 96-boat Laser Radial fleet sees Marit Bouwmeester (NED) head into gold fleet racing two points clear of Great Britain's Chloe Martin.
Bouwmeester finished second in the yellow fleet whilst Martin took a third in the blue fleet as the top two spots remain unchanged.
"It was a nice day even though it was quite a long day on the water because we got a good race in and now we can do gold fleet racing,” said Bouwmeester. "There are so many girls here and the racing is really good. It should be a fun three days in the gold fleet which will be nice."
Despite setting the early pace Bouwmeester isn't getting carried away, "I'm just trying to sail as best as I can, learn as much as I can and then if I win I would like that but if not then there has to be more work done.”
The days race wins went to Daphne van der Vaart (NED) in the blue fleet and Anne Marie Rindom (DEN) in the yellow fleet.
China's Peina Chen has the advantage in the Women's RS:X fleet and is a point clear of France's Charline Picon.
In three Women's RS:X races in the day Chen and Picon took a race win apiece to put a short margin in between themselves and World #1 Bryony Shaw (GBR) in third.
The day's other race win went to Moana Della (GER) who is seventh overall.
Despite discarding a 15th Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) extended their 49erFX lead to five points after five races in the 50-boat fleet.
The World #1 duo came out strong on the second day of racing to pick up their third consecutive second place finish. However a 15th in the proceeding race blighted what's been a steady start from the Brazilians.
They lead ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami gold medallists Sarah Steyaert and Julie Bossard (FRA) who picked up a bullet and a seventh.
Denmark's Ida Marie Baad Nielsen and Marie Thusgaard Olsen and Singapore's Griselda King and Sara Li Ching Tan have been the most consistent racers after two days of racing. Neither team count a score outside the top nine places which could prove invaluable towards the latter stages of the week. The Danes are fifth on 16 points and the Singaporeans tenth on 19 points.
Camille Lecointre and Helene Defrance (FRA) held on to their Women's 470 lead with a discarded 21st and a third.
Fernanda Oliveira and Ana Luiza Barbachan (BRA) picked up an eighth and a fourth to move into second. A fourth and a fifth from 2013 female ISAF Rolex World Sailors of the Year Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie (NZL) pushes them up to third.
Helena Lucas (GBR) continued her excellent start in the 2.4mR by amassing two further race wins in the 16-boat fleet.
Lucas, the London 2012 Paralympic gold medallist, picked up where she left off from the opening day and made it four out of four to open up a four point lead over compatriot Megan Pascoe.