by Robert Allan
29er European Championships 2011 held in Brissago, Switzerland on the edge of the beautiful Lake Maggiore attracted 157 boats from 17 countries including Brazil, USA and Australia. 19 boats with three RYA coaches represented GBR.
Day 6 - 29er European Championships 2011
Saturday saw glorious sunshine with very light winds. However on Sunday the weather changed for the worse with torrential rain causing a lack of thermal winds hence no practice race was possible and the opening ceremony had to be held inside the Danneman Centre, the European headquarters of a cigar-making company, which was providing the base for the event. The location caused testing conditions. Three difficult launching slipways for 157 boats meant a challenge in timings, resulting in many boats having to be carried into the water, simply to speed things up. The depth of the lake and the constant change of wind direction and strength added to the mêlée causing numerous abandonment’s, with many competitors and ribs spending up to eleven hours on the water in one day, and in one race the majority of the fleet being timed out. A mention must be made for the heroic efforts of many GBR parents to reduce these trying conditions especially the mark-laying of Phil Berry and James Hawkins and beach master Ben Cooper. Charles Glover too, elected President of the International Class during the week worked tirelessly behind the scenes to help ensure the week went to plan.
After four days qualifying was finally completed, albeit only five races each across four flights, which actually meant that many had not sailed against all entrants. Phil Walker/John Mather and James Bolingbroke/ Tim Walton had the best results from GBR, making it into the top 25 gold fleet. Eventually Friday saw slightly improved, yet still difficult wind conditions, hence each fleet managed to complete three finals races. Wind arrived after lunch on the final day leaving a short period of time for gold to complete two races, with silver, bronze and emerald managing one race each. Even given the tricky conditions, some sailors were able to master these difficult conditions and post consistently good results, showing the challenging elements can be beaten.
Many congratulations must go to the winners and top youths Zack Downing and Andrew Cates of the USA. James Sly and Tom Dwyer from Australia secured second place, with the Spanish team of Carlos Robles and Florian Trittel taking third. Lin Ea Cenholt Christiansen and Stine Quorning (Denmark) in tenth place were top girls.
The perfect conditions of the 2010 Europeans in Spain, and the warm-up German Nationals the week before, were always going to be hard acts to follow; the baton is now handed over to Travermunde in Germany for the 2012 Worlds and Sopot in Poland for the 2012 Europeans.
Meanwhile, closer to home, the GBR sailors are now looking forward to their UK Nationals in Torquay in mid August, where hopefully we will see stronger winds more suitable for high performance skiff sailing!
Opening Ceremony - 29er European Championships 2011 Switzerland
International 29er Class Association website