Denmark's foremost Finn sailor for a generation, double world champion Jonas Høgh Christensen (DEN) leads the Finn fleet after the first day at the Trofeo SAR Princesa Sofia MAPFRE regatta in Palma, after winning the opening race and placing fifth in the second. Daniel Birgmark (SWE) is in second on equal points while race two winner Andrew Mills (GBR) is in third just one point back.
It was an eventful day on and off the water which started quietly with very light winds forcing the postponement of the start of racing, but after a few coffees the fleet set out several hours later and two races were started in a south-south-westerly light gradient breeze at 6 to10 knots.
The first race went to 2006 and 2009 World Champion Jonas Høgh Christensen (DEN) from the up and coming young Caleb Paine (USA) and Daniel Birgmark (SWE). The 2008 Olympic Silver medalist Zach Railey (USA) crossed in fourth. It took several attempts to get the fleet away with lots of boats picking up a black flag penalty, including some of the favourites.
Høgh Christensen commented, “It was a great day for me today. Making few mistakes made the day a success. The conditions were light and the first race was a bit tricky. I had an OK start to windward. I was the most right on the first beat and rounded the top mark behind Daniel. On the first run, all the guys in front gybed and all got in a hole with less pressure. They all fell in to the shadow of the fleet and I managed to get around them and stay in the breeze and then extended the lead. Race was pretty much over from there. On the second race I had an average start but gained lots of places on the run.”
The second race was sailed in similar conditions and this time the British sailors were at the front. Andrew Mills (GBR) led throughout, initially from Tomas Vika (CZE), before Ben Ainslie (GBR) and Birgmark pulled through.
Mills said, “The pressure was quite patchy today with some decent size shifts. The right was pretty good on most beats, unlike normal Palma. In the first race I went left although most went right and rounded around 10th. Generally throughout the race there were a few key gusts and shifts which meant big ups and downs during the races. But luckily I did OK on most of those.”
“In the second race I won the committee boat and tacked quite early to head to the strong right. Most people went left and at the top mark, CZE85 was close but there was a big gap to the rest of the fleet. Then on the second beat I almost went to far to the left and Ben and Birgmark were looking good for a little bit. I managed to stay ahead though and then extended slightly on the downwind."
Birgmark added, “I had a good day and it shows that all the winter training done in Cadiz has paid off. I had a good upwind speed and managed to sail in the areas with more pressure. It is easier when you sail from the front to make your tactical choices. I also had a good speed downwind and could pass many boats."
Further back down the fleet, Jorge Zarif (BRA) was having an up and down day. “I didn't have a great day but finished where I belong. In the first race I was about 10th at the top mark but got a yellow flag just before the finish and lost places to 25th. In the second race, I was nearly last at the top mark and climbed up to 25th. So might be my right position!”
Racing continues until Saturday when the medal race for the top 10 will be sailed. Follow the racing live through the event website at: www.trofeoprincesasofia.org/
Results after two races
Photos: (c) Thom Touw