Fifty nations will be represented across one Paralympic and ten Olympic events at the fourth of five World Cup Regattas of the 2013-2014 series.
Numerous medallists and competitors will resume the battles that started at Qingdao, China in October 2013 progressed through to Melbourne, Australia in December 2013 and heated up in the Miami, USA just weeks ago.
As preparations for the Santander 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships step up, sailors will be using Mallorca and the final regatta of the World Cup series in Hyeres, France to hone in on their fitness and skills.
Racing in the 58-boat Women’s RS:X fleet will be highly charged with 17 of the world’s top 20 racers set to compete in Mallorca. World #1 Bryony Shaw (GBR) will undoubtedly be the favourite having taken eight podium spots from ten outings since January 2013 and comes into Mallorca off of victory at ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami.
Whilst Shaw comes in with good form, one to watch will be Israel’s Maayan Davidovich. The Israeli was consistent throughout 2013 and picked up a bronze at ISAF Sailing World Cup Qingdao. After a winter break she’s back in action, ready to pick up where she left off, “I’ve just finished my university course so I was a bit busy over the last few months. I had a three week training camp in Spain with my training partner Moana Delle (GER) and our coach.
“This year the season is really long and I am just at the beginning of it and looking forward to the upcoming month. I really look forward to racing in Palma as it’s one of my favourite places and this year it’s my first international race.”
As sailors begin to knuckle down and focus on the Santander 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships Davidovich recognises the depth of the Women’s RS:X fleet, “The fleet this year is very strong and it will be interesting to see and race against the other girls. I think that there are many girls in the fleet that could surprise everyone and race well. The level is really high and there is more than a few who can get on the podium.”
One of those eyeing on a podium spot will be Charline Picon (FRA). Picon raced at ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami, finishing sixth, but it wasn’t all about the result for the French sailor, “I went to Miami for physical training, but not technical, ” commented Picon. “It was a bit difficult but interesting to see what I need to work on this year. After Miami I had some great training in Rio and Buzios and then some physical training in the French Alps. I feel good for Palma.”
Men’s RS:X World #1 Ricardo Santos (BRA) and World #2 Ivan Pastor (ESP) will meet for the first time since 2013 ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyeres in Mallorca. The pair have jostled for the World #1 spot throughout 2013 and the spot will up for grabs once again.
Santos and Pastor will be part of an 81-boat Men’s RS:X fleet that includes 2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami gold medallist Byron Kokkalanis (GRE), World #3 Ho Tsun Leung (HKG) and British Olympic silver medallist Nick Dempsey.
The 80-boat 49er fleet features several familiar faces including 2013 World Champions Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL), World #1 Stevie Morrison and Chris Grube (GBR) and ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami gold medallists Jonas Warrer and Peter Lang (DEN).
The familiar face of Lauri Lehtinen (FIN) will be present within the 49er fleet but after five years of racing with Kalle Bask the two have split ways with the retiring Bask replaced by Miikka Pennanen. “Kalle has a wonderful daughter and is a great family, ” explained Lehtinen, “He is definitely a family person and has his priorities in life in the right order so now it is time for him to concentrate on the family life.
“For me it has been sad to quit with Kalle but at the same time I am really excited about the new campaign with Miikka. We sailed 29er together back in the days and has closely followed our campaign and coached me and Kalle too.”
Lehtinen and Bask took in 12 ISAF Sailing World Cup regattas over five years and finished seventh at London 2012 and Lehtinen knows the early days will be tough with Pennanen, “We have a lot to learn and we are still in the beginning of our campaign. Mallorca will be our first regatta and we will use it to benchmark ourselves against the others. It’s always a good regatta with good quality racing and big fleets. That is exactly what we need at this stage.
“After Palma we will know what we need to improve before Santander. It is still our main goal for this year to qualify Finland for the games. We feel that with hard work and great passion we can achieve this goal. Time is our biggest enemy at the moment.”
After the international debut of the 49erFX fleet at 2012 ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne several crews have established themselves as front runners. A 51-boat fleet in Palma will see the top 49erFX sailors face off once again. World #1 Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA), 2013 World Champions Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (NZL) and 2013 European Champions Sarah Steyaert and Julie Bossard (FRA) will all sail in Mallorca.
The Nacra 17 continues to throw out different winners at every regatta and with 74-boats entered the race for podium spots will be wide open.
Top entrants include ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne victors Darren Bundock and Nina Curtis (AUS), Miami winners Vittorio Bissaro and Silvia Sicouri (ITA) as well as World #1 Ben Saxton and Hannah Diamond (GBR).
ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami gold medallist Megan Pascoe (GBR) will be aiming to make it a second consecutive 2.4mR gold medal in Mallorca. Pascoe features in a 19-boat fleet but will have her work cut out with London 2012 gold medallist Helena Lucas (GBR) and 2013 Mallorca champion Bjornar Erikstad (NOR) in the fleet.
Racing commences on Monday 31 March across one Paralympic and ten Olympic events at ISAF Sailing World Cup Mallorca.