|470 Men & Mixed||6.-15.7.|
The addition of very wet rain did nothing to dampen the killer instincts and desire to win of the teams out on the race tracks.
Titles being contested were for the Open 470 European Championships with all teams eligible for the podium places and the 470 European Championships restricted to teams from European nations only.
Sime Fantela/Igor Marenic (CRO)
Luke Patience/Stuart Bithell (GBR)
Gideon Kliger/Eran Sela (ISR)
Mat Belcher/Malcolm Page (AUS)
Australia had sealed victory at the Open 470 European Championships after Thursday's race 12, so Mat Belcher/Malcolm Page's result in the Medal Race was purely personal, as in effect they had nothing to prove. So for the other teams in the Medal Race it was all about securing the 470 European Championship podium places and it was a rollercoaster ride to the end.
With medals already secured in the Laser Radial, Laser and Finn, the Croatian focus was today turned on the 470 Men medal contenders, Sime Fantela/Igor Marenic, to continue the nation's sailing fortunes. Fantela/Marenic did what they needed to do, covered their opponents and crossed the finish line in sixth place to win the Gold – and a resounding cheer from their supporters. Marenic commented, “This is one of the best results we have. It was a really hard regatta a hard event, but we sailed very constant and that was the key. Today was really, really hard a very shifty medal race and we had to pay attention to the British and Israelis and luckily in the end it all worked well for us.” Fantela continued that being awarded their medals and listening to the Croatian national anthem was “a perfect feeling.”
The European Championships accolade adds to their already impressive pedigree, which includes winning the 470 Worlds in 2009. They are also three time 470 Junior World Champions and won the 470 Junior Europeans in 2005. Fantela is also a two time Optimist World Champion in 1998 and 2000.
The Silver Medal went to Luke Patience/Stuart Bithell (GBR) who crossed the line in a photo finish just behind Nic Asher/Elliott Willis, and just ahead of Spain's Onan Barreiros Rodriguez/Aaron Sarmiento Padilla. The result of the Medal Race was crucial for Patience/Bithell and had they won the race they would have claimed European Championship victory, but to even secure the Silver Medal seemed like an impossibility early on in the Medal Race as they rounded the first mark in ninth position. But they dug deep, climbed to third by the downwind gate and then increased pace to second which they held tight to the photo finish.
An eighth place finish for Gideon Kliger/Eran Sela (ISR) was all they needed to claim the Bronze Medal.
|470 European Champions||470 Open European Champions|
|1||Sime Fantela/Igor Marenic (CRO)||1||Mat Belcher/Malcolm Page (AUS)|
|2||Luke Patience/Stuart Bithell (GBR)||2||Sime Fantela/Igor Marenic (CRO)|
|3||Gideon Kliger/Eran Sela (ISR)||3||Luke Patience/Stuart Bithell (GBR)|
|Tara Pacheco/Berta Betanzos (ESP)||Hannah Mills/Saskia Clark (GBR)|
Lene Sommer/Henriette Koch (DEN)
Fernanda Oliveira/Ana Luisa Barbachan (BRA)
“The wind was too shifty and I was a bit afraid in the middle of the first upwind, so I preferred to stay with the Brazilian and if we were the last two boats, I didn't care.” On their plans for celebration, Betanzos said she would be “enjoying a chocolate muffin!” According to Pacheco this has been Betanzos' planned reward if they won Gold. Betanzos continued, “We are really happy. We are doing a good job, so we have to continue like this so we can deliver the best for our objectives and the Olympics.”
A sensational triumph for this team, with the 2011 470 Women European Championships title following on from some stunning results they secured at junior level, including the 2009 470 Junior World Championships.
Denmark's Henriette Koch/Lene Somer won the Silver Medal, which marks a career best performance and provides a superb platform as they move forwards on their Olympic campaign. “I am very happy and very relieved,” said Koch. “It's been a good week, but also so nice to finally be there.” And so it should be as they depart from the Combined Olympic Classes European Championships as the top performing Danish team. And looking ahead to the Olympic Test Event, Koch explained, “Now we just have to go home and think about it, and for sure whenever we sail a regatta we want to do well.”
Another race win for for Hannah Mills/Saskia Clark (GBR) in the Medal Race secured them the Bronze Medal.
In the 470 Women Open European Championships, victory went to the Spanish, with Denmark second and the Brazilian team of Fernanda Oliveira/Ana Luisa Barbachan in third.
|470 European Champions||470 Open European Champions|
|1||Tara Pacheco/Berta Betanzos (ESP)||1||Tara Pacheco/Berta Betanzos (ESP)|
|2||Lene Sommer/Henriette Koch (DEN)||2||Lene Sommer/Henriette Koch (DEN)|
|3||Hannah Mills/Saskia Clark (GBR)||3||Fernanda Oliveira/Ana Luisa Barbachan (BRA)|
Symbolic of the Olympic heritage in Finland, the athletes were presented with their medals and prizes on a podium used at the 1952 Olympic Games which were hosted in Helsinki.
Results for both the 470 Men/Mixed and 470 Women Open European and European Championships can be found on the event website: www.openeuropeans2011.com/results
Stanislav Kassarov, President of the International 470 Class Association, expressed his thanks to the Championships' hosts during the Medal Ceremony. “On behalf of the 470 sailors, I would like to thank the Organizing Committee for the great effort they have made – we are all very satisfied with the Championships which have been delivered. Helsinki has showcased itself as a great venue and I am sure it will be a popular choice, particularly within the Baltic region, for future major events.”
Top Image: 470 European Champion Medallists. All images © Thom Touw