Outgoing RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park believes the British Sailing Team is in the right place for more ‘multi-medal winning success’ this Games cycle as he prepares to lead out the team for one final time at this week’s Princess Sofia Trophy in Palma, Majorca (27-1 April).
‘Sparky’, as Park is commonly known, will preside over some 63 British Sailing Team athletes at the first major European event of the year, before moving on to a new role at British Cycling next month after over 20 years with the RYA.
“Palma is looking to be an exciting event, with many classes taking the opportunity of the new cycle to trial innovative formats and change the way the medal race is viewed,” Park explained.
“There are some strong [British] teams coming through, including a number of new Podium Potential Pathway sailors, so it’ll be a good test for them to kick-start the season.
“We’ve got some fantastic sailors so we can expect some strong performances, setting ourselves up well for the season ahead and through the 2020 cycle.”
Park continued: “The coaching and support staff are as passionate as ever to do everything they can to create the opportunity for those sailors to realise their potential over the coming years.
“I’m sure the British Sailing Team will have another fantastic Games in Tokyo and will continue the multi-medal winning success,” Park added.
Hoping to be in medal contention next week will be new pairing Dylan Fletcher-Stuart Bithell, looking to continue their early form at what is their second major regatta together in Palma.
The Sailing World Cup Miami gold medallists will be joined by fellow Miami podium-topper Ben Saxton, who will be pairing up with Steph Orton in the Nacra 17, while multihull silver medallists Tom Phipps-Nikki Boniface will also be back to take on the fleet.
Over 800 sailors have entered this first stage of the 2017 EUROSAF Champions Sailing Cup which will not only put sailors through their paces after the winter training period, but also provides an opportunity for change as the new cycle begins with more than half of the classes testing a new qualification and medal race format.
In the Finn, Ben Cornish will be looking to follow his Miami silver medal success as the Finn Class trials a new race format, meaning that event honours will be decided on the final race. Joining Cornish in the Finn and aiming to capitalise on the new format will be Peter McCoy, Henry Wetherell and Hector Simpson.
In the 49erFX, Hannah Mills-Alain Sign will be racing at their first event together as Mills transitions into the women’s skiff, with the Palma event allowing open entries. Charlotte Dobson-Saskia Tidey will join Mills-Sign for their second event as pairing. After a strong Miami finish, James Peters-Fynn Sterritt will race in the 49er fleet.
World Champion Nick Thompson, Miami bronze medallist Lorenzo Chiavarini and Podium sailor Elliot Hanson will spearhead the nine-strong British team in the 148-boat Laser fleet. After missing out on Miami due to injury, Ali Young will be back in action in the Laser Radial.
Tom Squires will have fond memories of Palma having led from the outset to claim victory at last year’s event. European silver medallist Kieran Martin will join Squires in the men’s RS:X event alongside teammates Joe Bennett and six young talents from the Podium Potential Pathway squad.
The men’s and women’s RS:X windsurfing events will test a new format involving a series of quarter finals encompassing 12 sailors. Following eliminations, the overall winner will be decided from four finalists. Izzy Hamilton will lead the British challenge in the women’s RS:X event alongside Youth World Sailing Champion Emma Wilson.
470 duo Amy Seabright-Anna Carpenter will look to follow their bronze medal at least year’s event with a podium finish as they take on a new event format. Jess Lavery-Flora Stewart and Sarah Norbury-Katie Dabson will complete the line up in the Women’s 470 event.
Racing for all classes will run from 27 March-1 April.
more info … trofeoprincesasofia.org
by Anisha Walkerley / RYA