Olympic sailor Whitehead triumphant at Spanish regatta

Australia's Formula Kite sailing star Breiana Whitehead has won the prestigious overall award at the Princess Sofia Regatta off Spain in the countdown to the Olympics.

Whitehead, the first sailor selected on the 2024 Olympic team, won her class and also collected the least amount of points across all 10 classes to claim the coveted Princesa Sofia overall trophy. 

She became only the second Australian entry to win that accolade, joining 470 Olympic gold medallists Mat Belcher and Will Ryan.

“It is so incredible to win the whole top trophy, I am literally lost for words," said Whitehead.

"With so many great sailors here, I am blown away. And to join so many great sailors who have won in the past like Mat and Will in 2018, it is amazing.”

Following some delays waiting for wind off Palma on Saturday, Whitehead came out firing to win the first race of the final series. 

With the clock ticking, racing had to be abandoned for the day and as her main rival, five-time world champion Daniela Moroz (US) collected a starting penalty, it was confirmed Whitehead would take the gold.

 Reflecting on the week, Whitehead said: “It means that I'm on the right track to the Games and just keep chipping away at everything that needs to be perfected to get better. 

"I'm excited, it's a nice confidence boost on the way.”

It was a productive six-day regatta for the Australian sailing team with Zoe Thompson fighting back to take silver in the ILCA6 class.

Western Australian Thomson was runner up for a second straight year after three of nine Australian crews qualified for the medal race.

Reigning ILCA 7 Olympic and world champion Matt Wearn coming off a post-world titles break following his win in January, had a solid week finished his medal race in third, showing he remains in form for the Olympics. 

 Australian team technical director Michael Blackburn said the regatta would help in deciding Games team spots.

“As with many countries, our team will look to the results of Palma to help inform the remaining selections for our Olympic team, so it was a key performance regatta for us." 

 He added, “We do have a relatively young team across the board, so while we are looking for medal-winning performances in the 2024 Games, we're also excited for future prospects.”

 The 49er and 49erFX class recently had their world championships in Lanzarote and off the back of that Olivia Price and Evie Haseldine (49er FX) and Jim Colley and Shaun O'Connor (49er) were selected for the Olympic team. 

They finished 16th and 14th respectively this week while their compatriots showed Australia's depth.  

Jack Ferguson and Max Paul reunited after a hiatus and led the regatta for several days before finishing sixth, whilst in the 49er FX Laura Harding and Annie Wilmot were eighth. 

In the Nacra 17, Brin Liddell and Rhiannan Brown missed out on the medal race by one place,  coming in 11th.

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