All the top sailors will be racing in Palma (Spain) at Trofeo Princesa Sofia, which kicks off on April 4th till the 9th. All Olympic classes, including ILCA6 (Women Laser), ILCA7 (Men Laser), 470 (mixed dinghy), Nacra17 (mixed multihull), 49er (Men skiff) and 49erFX (Women skiff) are in Palma for their first big event of the season. After two difficult years of covid and just two years to go to Paris 2024, all Olympians and wannabes are eager to know where they stand. Here is a summary of what we can expect from this 51st edition.
ILCA7 (Men Laser) – Big boys are back!
After a 7-month break, here they are again! The Tokyo 2020 podium is in Palma, starting from Aussie Matt Wearn (SSL World n°10), Croatian Tonci Stipanovic (SSL World n°2) and Norwegian Hermann Tomasgaard (SSL World n°21). All the Tokyo Top 10 will be there except Korean Jeemin Ha and Brazilian Robert Scheidt. Although some already made their cycle debut in Lanzarote in February, most of the big guns will start in Palma just to see if they still have it.
ILCA6 (Women Laser) – Opportunities for outsiders
In her latest interview with StarSailors.com, Emma Plasschaert announced it: « I feel like we will see a lot of new sailors coming into the game. » Looking back at Tokyo 2020 results, there are only 4 out of Tokyo 2020 top 10 who will be at Palma. A good opportunity for youngsters such as Marie Bolou (SSL France n°40) or Anja Von Allmen (SSL Switzerland n°5) and more experienced sailors looking for Gold, including Agata Barwinska (SSL Poland n°2), Maxim Jonker (SSL Netherlands n°8) and Vasileia Karachaliou (SSL Greece n°1).
Mixed 470 – A blank page
Men 470 & Women 470 are dead, long live Mixed 470! A new page is opening at the Olympics for this series, and new duos have been created. Spain’s Jordi Xammar (SSL World n°13)/Nora Brugman won the last two events in Mallorca and Villamoura, with Austria’s Lara Vadlau/ Lukas Maehr not far behind. French pair Kevin Peponnet (SSL France n°8)/ Aloise Retornaz (SSL France Crew n°1) should be looked up carefully as well as Brits Martin Wrigley/ Eilidh McIntyre (SSL GBR Crew n°2).
49erFX – Olympic Champions vs. World Champions
Olympic Brazilian pair Martine Grael (SSL World n°5)/ Kahena Kunze (SSL World Crew n°5) may have let the World title slipped between their fingers in Oman last year, but they have been the most solid 49erFX since then. Winning with a margin all regattas this year, including MSC Regatta and Lanzarote International, the Brazilians are one of the favourites. Amongst the other ones – and not the least – we have Dutch World champions Odile Van Aanholt (SSL World n°38)/ Annette Duetz (SSL World Crew n°16) and World 2nd Norwegian Helene Naess (SSL World n°24)/ Marie Rønningen (SSL World Crew n°22). It will be interesting to follow French Sarah Steyaert pairing up with former RS-X Olympic Champion Charline Picon. At the MSC International, they managed to win the Medal Race.
49er – New partners
Olympic Champion British Dylan Fletcher-Scott (SSL World n°18) is back but with a new partner Rhos Hawes following the Games. Dutch Bart Lambriex (SSL World n°26) has also been joined by a new partner, Floris Van De Werken (SSL World Crew n°100) with whom he won World Championships in Oman. Denmark Frederik Rask (SSL Denmark n°8)/ Jakob Precht Jensen (SSL Denmark Crew n°2) are also not to be forgotten after their bronze medal in Oman and 2nd at MSC Regatta just one point behind Polish Dominik Buksak (SSL Poland n°7)/ Szymon Wierzbicki (SSL Poland Crew n°4), who also won in Vilamoura.
Nacra17 – The Revenants
Italy’s Olympic champions Ruggero Tita (SSL World n°9)/ Caterina Banti (SSL World Crew n°11) will be in Palma, as well as silver medalists and World Champions Britain’s John Gimson (SSL World n°4)/ Anna Burnet (SSL World Crew n°2). It would be interesting to check on 2016 Olympic Champion and SSL Team Argentina Captain Santiago Lange (SSL Argentina n°2) / Victoria Travascio, former 49erFX specialist and SSL Argentina n°5. 4-time World Champ French Billy Besson (SSL France n°18) is back in Nacra17 with Noa Ancian after being dropped for his countepart Quentin Delapierre (SSL France n°3) in Japan. Quentin, who also replaced Billy on SailGP Team France, will pair up with Manon Audinet (SSL France Crew n°4) like in Tokyo. Still in Team France, we will be watching closely Tim Mourniac (SSL France n°26)/ Lou Berthomieu (SSL France Crew n°9), who will want to be the disruptive duo to represent France at Paris 2024.