Ben Ainslie leads British sailors at Palma test

by RYA 
Finn Gold Cup 2008 - Ben Ainslie (GBR)

Triple Olympic medallist Ben Ainslie will be back on the racecourse for the first time since clinching his historic fifth Finn world title in Melbourne in January. The triple Olympic medallist heads the group of five British Finn sailors in the fleet of 47, which includes former world champions Jonas Hoegh Christensen of Denmark and local hero Rafael Trujillo among the main contenders for medal success.

The countdown to Beijing continues this week for Britain’s sailors as the 2008 European regatta season gets underway with the Princess Sofia Trophy in Palma, Majorca (16-21 March).

Skandia Team GBR’s double World Championship-winning Yngling trio of Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and Pippa Wilson will be the team to beat in the women’s keelboat fleet when racing gets underway in Palma Bay on Sunday, with the USA team of Sally Barkow, Carrie Howe and Debbie Capozzi likely to pose the biggest threat.

Three-times European Champion Paul Goodison will be amongst the frontrunners in the 119-boat Laser fleet, while Christina Bassadone and Saskia Clark will be looking to recapture the Princess Sofia crown that they clinched two years ago in Palma in the women’s 470 class.

Skandia Team GBR’s top RS:X windsurfers will be hopeful of a good showing this week after enjoying good fortunes in Palma in the past – the RYA’s Beijing nominees Nick Dempsey and Bryony Shaw notched up a British RS:X windsurfing double at the 2005 edition of the event.

With the 49er European Championships looming in Palma next week, world silver medallists Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes have opted to skip the Princess Sofia Trophy, with Paul Campbell-James and Mark Asquith now holding the mantle as the top British crew in the fleet. The event also marks the return of double Olympic medallist Simon Hiscocks to major Olympic classes action, now sailing with John Pink.

Meanwhile, 470 development squad sailors Luke Patience and Chris Grube will have fond memories of this event from 2007, where they sailed a strong series to finish in fifth place amongst a world class fleet

Racing at the Princess Sofia Trophy gets underway on Sunday 16 March, with the final medal races scheduled for Friday 21 March.