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Team USA star thrives in “nuclear” conditions on opening day of World Cup Series

by World Sailing 2 Apr 09:08 BST 1-6 April 2024
53 Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mallorca © World Sailing

Olympics-bound Daniela Moroz declared the conditions at the 53 Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mallorca by Iberostar to be "nuclear" as she claimed two Formula Kite bullets on the opening day of the World Cup Series event in Palma.

The Team USA star set the early pace after winning the first two qualifying races in a year in which she will hope to be doing the same in Marseille when the Paris 2024 Olympics gets under way.

It put her well clear of Australia's Breiana Whitehead in second on a day when winds of up to 30 knots and a lively swell meant only the Formula Kites, the ILCA 6 and ILCA 7 Dinghies and the 470 Mixed Dinghies were able to sail.

Moroz said: "It was nuclear today and I was loving it! We don't get many opportunities to race in these conditions, so I am always excited for days like this because I always learn and improve a lot.

"It was pretty hectic out there and really I was just happy to just get around the course and finish both races relatively clean."

In the men's Formula Kite, they managed three races despite the challenging conditions with Brazil's Bruno Lobo taking an early lead thanks to two wins and a second place in the Blue group with world champion Maximilian Maeder of Singapore close behind after two bullets and a third place in the Yellow group.

"The conditions were crazy today, the waves were really big and so it was all about surviving with your equipment intact, at least for me it was," said Maeder.

In the ILCA 7 Men's Dinghy, Germany's Philipp Buhl put aside talk of the Michael Beckett (GBR)-Matt Wearn (AUS) rivalry to lead the standings with two Yellow group bullets after two races.

Beckett is in joint second - with Norway's Hermann Tomasgaard - after a second place and a win in the Red group while Wearn's first and third, after slugging it out with Tomasgaard in the Blue group, sees the Australian in fourth.

The intensity of competition in the ILCA 7 Men's Dinghy augurs well for the Marseille Regatta which looks set to be an almighty duel for the Olympic title.

Wearn said: "I guess that is my best start for a few years here, it was quite brisk, a one and a three for the day is a good start. It was not easy. In this really big fleet getting off the start line with speed in the big waves was the key because then you could use your boat speed, that was half the job. It is nice to get away with a good start on the first day."

Belgium's Emma Plasschaert claimed two bullets in the two races possible in the Blue group in the ILCA 6 Women's Dinghy with current Olympic champion Anne-Marie Rindom trailing in 10th place.

Nevertheless, Dane Rindom - combining her Paris 2024 preparations with competing for Denmark SailGP - revelled in the challenging conditions.

She said: "The race committee did a really nice job, keeping the waiting time between races down and we really got some really, really nice racing in. It was extreme conditions but sailable.

"I like these conditions especially because I feel like it is good to push the limits sometimes.

"The first race I made a mistake on the upwind and got a great big knot in my mainsheet and so I could not bear away so I lost about 20 boats, but I kept my head and fought for every boat and got 11th or 12th and the second race I was second."

In the 470 Mixed Dinghy, Germany's Malte and Anastaysia Winkel made the best start to what could prove critical event in their hotly-contested Olympic selection.

The husband-and-wife duo are fighting to overhaul rivals Simon Diesch and Anna Markfohrt who hold a points lead in the trials chase because they finished fourth at the 470 World Championships in February.

The Winkels won the first race and took second in their second heat in the Yellow fleet to lead the class after a big opening day whilst Great Britain's Vita Heathcote and Chris Grube lie second thanks to a pair of second places. Diesch and Markfohrt were ninth in the first race but won their second heat.

Winkel said: "It was super challenging, super technical, really tough for junior teams, some of which were in survival mode, a lot of them seem to have capsized, but this is the baptism of fire for them at the Trofeo.

"It went really well for us, we were fast on the water today, speed was a factor. We started one race well, one not so well, in both races we led at the upwind mark. We're super happy with 2 and 1. But it's only the first day."

Spain's newly anointed world champions Jordi Xammar and Nora Brugman are third.

"It was pretty full on out there," said Xammar.

"Today the conditions were pretty epic. We were on the edge with some pretty big waves and strong wind, which was pretty fun and allowed us to really surf. It's an Olympic year and it's important for us to get the most out of every race. We're going for it full on."

Winds are forecast to be lighter for the second day Tuesday with an expectation that rising temperatures will see less challenging sea breezes of around 8-12 knots from around midday.

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