Trofeo Princesa Sofía opens 2023’s road to Paris 2024

The Mallorcan regatta, which will be held from 29 March to 8 April on the Bay of Palma, marks the start of a crucial season for the teams in the run-up to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

The 52nd edition of the Trofeo Princesa Sofía has a special importance just over a year before the Games of the XXXIII Olympiad begin in Paris. The best Olympic sailing specialists in the world will meet in the Bay of Palma as a taste of what may happen at the French regatta off Marseille.

The pandemic reduced the Olympic cycle between Tokyo and Paris from the usual four years to three, an exception that intensified the programmes of sailors, teams and federations, and enhances the importance of events such as the Trofeo Princesa Sofía, which could not be held in 2020 or 2021. Last year, 2022, it made a strong comeback and faces 2023 as the biggest edition in its history.

Ferrán Muniesa, technical director of the Princess Sofia Trophy, explains that the pre- Olympic year is very important for the teams because “there are countries that have not achieved a place for the Games, so the Sofia, in many cases, is an Olympic country qualifying event. In this edition there is a lot of pressure, as it is well known that it is more difficult to get a selection place for country than it is to participate in Paris 2024.”

“This pressure is reflected in the numbers of the event, which for the first time will exceed 1,000 boats, with more than 1,300 sailors from 67 countries. The more sailors registered, the more groups there are to organise, and therefore the more races to compete in, which complicates the logistics,” says Muniesa.

The changes in the Olympic classes have also affected the Trofeo Princesa Sofía. The Finn category and the division of 470 into male and female categories have given way to the unification in 470 Mixed and the creation of Formula Kite Men and Female, with the historic arrival of kitesurfing to the Olympic arena; on the other hand, the iQFOiL revolutionises the windsurfing category, which now incorporates foils. The technical director of the event adds: “The events in the new flying classes are very short, between 12 and 15 minutes compared to 60 minutes before, and the speed is much higher. All of this makes the logistics more complicated, we have to be very attentive and increase safety.”

Xisco Gil, technical director of the Real Federación Española de Vela (Spanish sailing federation), points out that the Sofía has always been a reference point in the Olympic campaign. “The results will give us the measure to know where we are, where we have failed and where we have got it right in the pre-season,” he points out. The RFEV coach clarifies that “the Princesa Sofía, in a pre-Olympic year like this one, is very complicated for all the teams, because the best sailors in each class participate, so the quality and number is even higher than in the Games.”

“The geographical proximity of the Paris Games, whose sailing events will take place in Marseille, has allowed the Spanish team to train on the Olympic regatta course and analyse a lot of data. However, the fact that this time the event will be held in three years and not in four has forced us to speed up the preparatory work, with a higher level of demand, as time is tight,” Gil points out.

Mark Robinson, the British team’s performance director, confirms: “This year is going to be very important for our athletes as we go full steam ahead towards Paris 2024. There are crucial regattas coming up where all the nations will be eager to perform, and it all starts with the Princess Sofia.” Regarding the importance of the event, Robinson remarks: “All the big names will be in Mallorca looking to prove themselves and send a message to their international rivals.”

The head of the British team points out: “The Sofia is very dear to our team, and we are always looking forward to starting the regatta season in Palma. Hopefully under blue skies and with good winds.”

The first Sailing World Cup 2023 event will be followed by the Semaine Olympique Française in April in France, the Allianz Regatta in May-June in the Netherlands and the Kieler Woche in June in Germany. The hopefuls for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games have just 16 months to complete their preparations, and in the Princess Sofia they will find out where they stand in relation to their rivals and what their real chances are of achieving the coveted Olympic glory.

The 52 Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofía Mallorca by Iberostar is the first qualifying event for the Sailing World Cup 2023 and will be held from 29th March to 8th April under the joint organisation of the Club Nàutic S’Arenal, the Club Marítimo San Antonio de la Playa, the Real Club Náutico de Palma, the Real Federación Española de Vela and the Federación Balear de Vela, with the support of World Sailing and the main Balearic public institutions. It is funded by the European Union Next Generation EU, the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan and the Tourism Strategy Agency of the Balearic Islands.

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