Princess Sofia Regatta – Palma Mallorca, Spain
The Princess Sofia regatta hosted by Club Nautico Arenal in Palma de Mallorca, Spain was the opening event of the European Olympic season, boasting a record 49er fleet of 108 teams. Travelling to Palma has always been a highlight each year as we’re greeted with some glamour 49er racing conditions yet uncomfortably cold water and air temperatures for the Aussies which definitely provides its challenges!
Being less than 18 months out from the Olympic Games in Tokyo, the entire fleet have been training hard in an attempt to qualify their nation and solidify their spot in the most prestigious amateur sporting competition in sailing.
The 49er class was spread across three fleets for the opening two days of qualifying racing which after 6 races was to decide the 25-boat gold fleet to go forward for the remainder of the regatta. Dave and I were able to keep our qualifying scores relatively consistent inside the top 10 with a couple of mid-teen places and were able to qualify for the Gold fleet in 15th place.
The next two days were probably the toughest racing physically and mentally that I’ve competed in to date, with all of the current best 49er sailors including the current Olympic champions Pete Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) and the recently-crowned World Champions, Sime and Mihovil Fantela (CRO), however a large number of top teams weren’t able to qualify for the gold fleet. We were having fairly decent starts, however weren’t able to piece together a complete race and were stuck racing around the rear end of the gold fleet.
We had a very tough finals series during the Princess Sofia regatta and were unable to continue our form from the beginning of the regatta and wrapped up the week in 23rd place overall. We were happy with our progress since the beginning of the year, however the week of racing highlighted some key areas that we needed to work on prior to the next regatta, the Sailing World Cup in Genoa, Italy.
With a few days off from the boat park, we got the Aussie sailing and cycling squad together and travelled to the mountains in the northeast of the island to ride up and down the hills. A few days of this allowed us to regain some fitness towards the next few weeks of sailing.