One classes loss is anothers gain

The long journey to Rio 2016 begins in earnest next week as the first major European event of the new Olympiad gets under way at the Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofía MAPFRE in Palma, Spain. For the Finn class it has also been a period of transition with a large influx of new sailors joining the class. Only ten of the sailors from London 2012 are competing in Palma, including bronze medalist Jonathan Lobert and fourth placed Pieter-Jan Postma (NED). The high turnover of sailors is indicative of the number of juniors and new sailors the fleet is attracting.

Following the removal of the Star class, there are also a number of returning Olympians from the class. From Brazil, the double Olympic Star medalist Bruno Prada (BRA) is testing the waters for a possible 2016 campaign, pitting his wits against the 2012 Olympian Jorge Zarif (BRA), who so far has proved to be the more dominant of the two.

Another interesting development is the addition of the 2012 Star gold medalist Max Salminen of Sweden to the fleet. He is fresh into his 2016 campaign, and definitely one to watch.The usual strong British team includes the return, albeit briefly, of 2011 World Champion Giles Scott, sailing his first major regatta since Sail for Gold last year, though he is currently focussing on the America’s Cup.

“I’ve been doing very little Finn sailing since joining Luna Rossa. I've been based out in New Zealand and haven’t had much of a chance at all to get into my Finn, but it will be nice to compete in Palma and Hyeres in an attempt to keep my eye in.”

Also sailing from Team GBR are, Andrew Mills, Mark Andrews, Peter McCoy, Paul Childs and James Hadden.

New Zealand is fronting its strongest team for many years with the former Laser world No. 2 Josh Junior (NZL) up against Andrew Murdoch (NZL), who has placed fifth in the last two Olympics in the Laser class.

Current world number 1, Brendan Casey (AUS) heads a three strong Australian team of Oliver Tweddell (AUS) and newcomer Jake Lilley (AUS). Lilley’s ambition knows no bounds and at two meters high and 96 kg at just 19 years old, his progress will be interesting to watch.

To date there are 76 registered entries for Palma. Initially entries for Palma were capped at 60, but following the usual large response it wasn’t long before they were put back up to 80 to accommodate all the sailors who wanted to attend. Racing at the Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofía MAPFRE Sailing World Cup in Palma begins on Monday 1 April. Only a fool would believe it isn’t going to be as gripping as ever.