Josh Junior (NZL) has taken the lead in the Finn fleet at the 47th Trofeo Princesa Sofia IBEROSTAR after a day in which many of the front runners picked up some high scores, including Giles Scott (GBR) who drops to second. Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) won the second race of the day to end up third overnight. The first race was won by Oliver Tweddell (AUS).
After a delay for fog and lack of wind it gradually cleared and a 10-12 knot sea breeze established over the Bay of Palma to test the mettle and patience of the fleet.
Twenty year old Hector Simpson (GBR) sailed a day he won't forget in a long time. Rounding the first mark in first and second places and ending the day with a fourth and a ninth, he was the best performer out of the whole fleet on a very tricky day that left best in the world scratching their heads.
He said, “I think it was a very tricky day to stay consistent. The starts were really tight at the pin end and thankfully I managed to pull off two really good starts there and have two really good windward mark roundings.”
In the first race, “I came off the line as the left most boat and all the guys to windward of me tacked away and and just after that I got a 15 degree right hand shift, so I carried on until it came back to my normal numbers and by that time I was on the layline in more pressure and it was all done.”
“I think it was a combination of a left hand shift and more pressure out that side. The wind was compressing round the bulge in the cliff, and I ended up over standing. But everyone on the left over stood and some over stood more than me.”
Simpson rounded the top mark in the lead from Enrico Voltolini (ITA) and Oliver Tweddell (AUS). He held onto the lead until the final top mark, when a mistake let Tweddell and Junior through.
Tweddell explained, “The first race was actually pretty tricky. I think the results were all over the place. I managed to get a good clean start and punch out to the left. I thought there'd be a bit of a left hand shift with the shoreline so managed to get into that and round the top mark in third. I stuck with the guys in front of me and then JJ [Junior] had a really nice second beat and then got himself up, but I managed to take a really nice shift with pressure down the final run to get past him to win, which was quite pleasing.” Junior crossed in second with Alejandro Foglia (URU) moving up to third.
As often happens when Olympic trials reach the sharp end, many sailors make Herculean efforts and surpass themselves to achieve their dream. With the Australian selections still ongoing, both contenders have now won a race each this week. “Jake is sailing his races and I am sailing mine, but it's great that two out of the four races have been won by Australians so I think our coach will be happy with that.”
The second race was led from start to finish by Postma. All the race leaders but Postma came out of the right this time as a persistent shift tried to take hold. After another tricky race he led the fleet home ahead of Tapio Nirkko (FIN) and Vasilij Zbogar (SLO).
Junior explained his day, “For me that sort of light air, shifty, choppy conditions are bit of a struggle so it's pretty cool to get a second and a 14th. I had a good lane off the start line, went all the way, two tacks up the beat, and found myself at the front and chipped away away from there, so that was pretty pleasing.”
“The biggest factor was the cliff on the left, creating a wind shadow but also creating a big shift, so it was matter of how far you dug into it and just how you did it. It would work one time and the next you would lose a lot.”
The London 2012 bronze medalist Jonathan Lobert (FRA) has returned from a period of training in Rio to be in Palma. “It's nice to meet all the guys again and get back into racing mode. Every time we go to Rio and come back we are very exhausted. This time was very short, we flew back just five days ago before coming to Palma, so the energy is not fully high. Next time we are planning a long recovery.”
Lobert is currently in 10th overall. “It was a classic Palma day. In the first race I was playing the left hand side after a good start and managed to round in the top 10 then we followed each other and there wasn't so much to do. In the second race the start was not so good and I came back a little too early from the left and that was a mistake because I was in the pack at the top mark and then life is very complicated when you are in the middle of the fleet. So I made 20th. Not that bad, but also not very good, but I think we are all close on points.” There is only 10 points separating second and tenth.
Spain is now leading the Olympic continental qualifier, with Pablo Guitián Sarria (ESP) in 19th. But it is very close behind him with Frederico Melo (POR), Ondrej Teply (CZE) and Egor Terpigorev (RUS) all on equal points just a few places behind. Allan Julie (SEY) extends his lead in the African selection with two more wins over Karim Esseghir (TUN).
Racing in Palma continues to Saturday. The Finn fleet is scheduled to continue racing at 11.00 on Wednesday.
Results after four races
1 NZL 24 Josh Junior 9
2 GBR 41 Giles Scott 15
3 NED 842 Pieter-Jan Postma 15
4 FIN 218 Tapio Nirkko 18
5 SWE 33 Max Salminen 18
6 CRO 69 Milan Vujasinovic 22
7 AUS 41 Jake Lilley 24
8 NOR 1 Anders Pedersen 24
9 GRE 77 Ioannis Mitakis 25
10 FRA 112 Jonathan Lobert 25
Photos: Josh Junior, Hector Simpson, Oliver Tweddell, Enrico Voltolini