Princess Sofía Regatta: through Scottish eyes

The Spanish sunshine shone for the first major multiclass event of the year
11 Apr 24
Princess Sofia Regatta

Swapping the Scottish weather for some welcomed sun might be a bonus – but that was never the focus for Anna Burnet or Islay Watson – the two Scottish powerhouses out competing with the British Sailing Team in Palma de Mallorca last week.

As the first major event of the year for all 10 Olympic sailing classes, the significance of the Trofeo Princesa Sofia Regatta is not to be underestimated - providing a real marker in the sand for those heading on to compete at The Games in Marseille this summer.

Similarly, as a stand-alone event, it’s a place for athletes to perform, prove, and test themselves against the worlds top sailing talent.

Scots at the Princess Sofia Regatta in Mallorca

Amongst the hundreds of sailors competing and within the 51 British Sailing Team athletes, Anna and Islay were ready to get stuck into two very different classes - with Anna and partner John Gimson looking to dominate in the Nacra 17 class, and Islay competing in the iQFoil fleet.

For Anna and John – each competition is a real test against their upcoming Olympic rivals, particularly Italian duo Tita and Banti, who beat them to Gold at Tokyo 2020.

Telling us about her goals for this cycle, Anna said:

“We have the ability, we would love to win a gold medal – and we will do everything we can to try and achieve that.

“At the end of the day this is sailing – you can’t control the weather, you can’t control your competitors, there’s a lot that goes on in a week of racing particularly in Marseille. It’s a difficult venue, it’s tricky to predict.”

“So, we’ll do our best – but we’ll definitely be going for Gold.”

While lots of athletes and support teams had been out preparing in Palma de Mallorca for several weeks, action got truly underway at the 53rd annual regatta on Monday the 1st of April.

Scots at the Princess Sofia Regatta in Mallorca

Despite day one of racing falling on April fools day, challenging swells and strong winds meant racing was no laughing matter.

With race results coming through only for the 470, ILCA, and Formula Kite classes, our two Scottish sailors Anna and Islay would have to wait for a Nacra launch and an iQFOiL start sequence.

And so, with Monday meaning more time spent in the boat park than on the water, a welcome hello from Glasgow based windsurfer and coach Andy Brown (right) offered another familiar face, out in Palma on coaching duties. 

Scots at the Princess Sofia Regatta in Mallorca 

With some more Scottish hellos had, our eyes were now firmly Anna and Islay as the week progressed, with wind and swell calming significantly for the rest of the week.

It was the lighter Tuesday conditions that built up into a successful day out on the water for Anna & John, as well as Islay on the iQFOiL.

After four races, the Nacra pair came off the water in 2nd overall heading into midweek – with Islay in 6th from 76 in the iQFOiL fleet.

Scottish sailors at the Princess Sofia Regatta 2024

Reflecting on how far she’s come within the sport since first getting started on a windsurf board here in Scotland as a youngster, Islay said:

“It seems quite far from learning to windsurf at Loch Insh, and it’s great to be here racing against such a big fleet of girls.

“It’s nice to be here amongst all of this. I didn’t expect to be here myself when I was younger – so I guess if you just keep doing what you love, you can end up somewhere like this!”

Also out competing in Palma was Lorenzo Chiavarini, a former British Sailing Team athlete who began representing Italy two years ago.

Lorenzo Chiavarini  Princess Sofia Regatta

Lorenzo is also a familiar face for us at RYA Scotland, having first discovered his love for the sport on the West Coast:

“Funnily enough I started sailing toppers with my dog in front of the house.

“When I was a kid in Largs, going out with the really strong easterly winds and the cold weather – it grew me up. I have really fond memories, had a lot of fun – and it gave me that resilience.

“Hopefully after the Olympics I can get back to the west of Scotland to go and sail in the good currents that we have!”

Conditions throughout the rest of the week were however far from the blustery Scottish winds Lorenzo described - with another day of light winds seeing both Anna and Islay dropping several places in their respective fleets.

The remainder of the week held a mixed bag of conditions and results, with Islay being hit hard by light and limited racing for the iQFOiL fleet – unfortunately missing out on medal race qualification.

But, having managed more time on the water and some good finishes across the Thursday and Friday – Anna and John were comfortable in 4th place heading into the final day with the Nacra 17’s.

Scottish sailors at the Princess Sofia Regatta 2024

It was their experience and determination that translated into a second place medal race finish – taking them up to third in overall standings, and securing a bronze medal.

Setting them up in a strong position as their summer of Olympic preparation continues, we can’t wait to see what’s on the horizon for the duo.

To stay up to date with Anna & John, and Islay – make sure you’re following the British Sailing Team on socials.

And, if you’ve been inspired and want to uplevel your own sailing – keep an eye out on our RYA Scotland booking platform to see what academies, events, and instructor / training courses are coming up.

If you’re thinking of getting on the water for the first time – check out the RYA Activity Finder to see what’s on offer near you.