At the 470 European Championships on day 2 a perfect breeze of around 12 knots arrived on time on Course Area D for all 470 racing to get underway as scheduled.
470 European Championships 2011
A great day for some, a reversal of fortunes for others, whilst one team just wished they had stayed in bed! The breeze from around 220 degrees gradually increased to 15 knots – wonderful conditions for the 470 fleet.
The 470 men fleets were re-seeded for today's races based on their finishing positions from yesterday – so some shuffling around in fleet allocations and new head to heads amongst the fleets. Bang on schedule, the 470 yellow fleet got underway first at 1200 hours, followed by the 470 red fleet.
Going into today's racing, Matthew Belcher/Malcolm Page (AUS) and Ryunosuke Harada/Yugo Yoshida (JPN) were on equal points after both delivering winning scorelines from day 1 with two bullets apiece.
Demonstrating their world class form, Belcher/Page secured a third in race 3 in the 470 men red fleet, followed by another win in race 4, to give them a seven point margin at the front, although as Page stated, 'We can certainly lose that in a race!'
Continued Belcher, 'Obviously there were different conditions than yesterday. A fantastic place to sail actually. It's different racing, there are waves, you can surf and the boat can plane quite easily in these conditions. We have had 13-15 knots – perfect conditions for the boat. When you are deciding which side of an island to go or you are sailing upwind you are like 'Mal – there's an island in front of us'. We have to tack. It's just different racing and it's nice to have that and it's nice to have it here.'
Their third place was only achieved after a climb through the fleet and despite a few errors, as Belcher explained, 'We had a good start, we were sailing quite well. We probably were a little bit risky in the tuning set up, a little bit higher than we would have liked in rake and we just found ourselves a little bit struggling for speed. It was OK, we can't complain.'
Continued Page, 'We also touched the first top mark, so we had to do a spin as well there, because of avoiding starboard boats and we just clipped the mark.' So having lost a few places, the challenge was then on to claw their way back to the front, as Page reflected, 'We then had a great run, did an early gybe and took the left hand side on the downwind. We gained a lot of distance and rounded in about fifth or sixth, fought pretty hard, got a couple of shifts on the beat and up to fourth at the top and then we gained a bit more.'
Onto race 4 in the red fleet and challenging the Australians for the bullet were the American team of Stuart McNay/Graham Biehl who were on the case for a race win as Biehl explained, 'In race 4 we were first to the leeward gate, and then split with Belcher/Page upwind. They went right and we crossed a few times, but they just had more pressure than us.' Continued Biehl, 'It was strange as we had a really good start in race 3, but had a bad finish and a good start in race 4 and finished second!'
The Aussies winning ways saw them take the gun with a half minute margin over the Americans, who themselves were just three seconds ahead of Gideon Kliger/Eran Sela (ISR).
The 470 Men red fleet delivered a more consistent day in their scorelines compared to the yellow fleet, with Kliger/Sela's 1,3 from today's racing pushing them up into third overall, behind Sime Fantela/Igor Marenic (CRO) who posted a 2,5 to finish the day in second.
In the 470 Men yellow fleet, Ryunosuke Harada/Yugo Yoshida started their day well with a fourth place, but then disaster struck as they were OCS in race 4 to score 38 points which has toppled them down the leaderboard to sixteenth overall. The series discard will come into play after five races, so we can expect to see them climb back up the leaderboard tomorrow. But if this team want any hope of a podium place or indeed top ten place they cannot afford to make another mistake quite like today's.
The Olympic bronze medallist from 2004 Juan de la Fuente is an experienced campaigner, with two Olympics to his credit, and has teamed up with Lucas Calabrese for a 2012 Olympic campaign. The pair delivered a tidy race win in today's opening race 3, which certainly put a smile on Juan's face. Chasing behind in the race were Onan Barreiros Rodrigues/Aaron Sarmiento Padilla (ESP) in second, with Nic Asher/Elliot Willis (GBR) in third.
Onto race 4 in the yellow fleet and it was the British team of Luke Patience/Stuart Bithell who exercised their skill as the world's #4 ranked team and the top British boat competing here to take the race win with a fairly significant margin over the Spanish. The bullet combined with their seventh in race 3 pushes them up to fourth overall. A happy Patience reflected on the day, 'Yeh we had a good day. Just what we need to be doing at this early stage, pretty happy. We are not making any damage on ourselves for later on in the series.'
Responding to whether they feel pressure as the top ranked British team in Helsinki, Patience said, 'We got no pressure. We are just here to sail hard and sail fast. Whether we are the first British boat or last is irrelevant, we are here to beat everyone. We are here to win.'
'The conditions are great. We do like these conditions which are a bit breezy – we do like that. After the training of the first few days there was no wind, so we were gearing ourselves up for a light wind regatta, but we had a long wait yesterday and got in two good races and again today two good races in 12-15 knots. It's champagne out there – you can't ask for much more than that,' concluded Patience.
Barreiros Rodrigues/Sarmiento Padilla also enjoyed good form, with two second place postings as Barreiros Rodrigues explained, 'We were comfortable in the boat. I am very happy for today, the wind is very good, the boat is very fast.'
The Greek team of Panagiotis Mantis/Pavlos Kagialis are here to defend their 470 European Championship title and were feeling fairly content with the day's performance of 6, 4. But that was before they knew of their black flag penalty in race 4, which converts their over the line finish of 4 points to 38 points and with it an overall position on the standings of 27 – not exactly what they anticipated.
Four of the six races for the qualifying races for the men's fleet have now been completed. Tomorrow will see the final qualification races and the fleet jostling to secure their place into the Gold Fleet, with the rest joining the Silver Fleet.
A smooth performance from Spain's Tara Pacheco/Berta Betanzos pushes them into the overall lead, with a win in race 3 and fifth in race 4, and gives them a 12 point margin over second placed Fernanda Oliviera/Ana Luisa Barbachan (BRA).
'It was really good,' explained Betanzos, 'we had a good start and we were in the top five since the start of the race and at the first mark we were second and were then second all the race and on the last downwind we were first. It was a good race.'
A real tumble down the standings for the overnight leaders Tina Mrak/Teja Cerne (SLO) who finished sixteenth in race 3, but were black flagged in race 4, points which can only be discarded after five races have been completed.
Japan's Ai Kondo and Wakako Tabata are into their third Olympic campaign and so bring many years of experience to their racing. As Kondo commented, 'I am very happy in all conditions, although we were expecting light winds here after the experiences of our training days before the Championships.' Their experience didn't help today, as despite leading around the track for most of race 4, they slipped up on the last leg to the Greek team of Virginia Kravarioti/Olga Tsigaridi who took the race win by 2 seconds. Adding further pain for the Japanese was the subsequent discovery of their black flag penalty in that race, which now puts them in eleventh overall after four races.
Catching up with Hannah Mills/Saskia Clark (GBR) after racing, Clark exclaimed, 'We wish we'd stayed in bed today!' They protested the Race Committee, but lost, after a black flag in race 3. Onto race 4, a capsize to windward going downwind, and a spinnaker filled with water proved time consuming to recover leaving them at the back of the fleet. 'Our boat has a very polished bottom,' frowned Mills referencing their struggle on the upturned hull. These two are not used to being at the back of the fleet, and since pairing up earlier this year they have secured second place finishes at two ISAF Sailing World Cup events.
After four races Tara Pacheco/Berta Betanzos (ESP) lead, Fernanda Oliveira/Ana Luisa Barbachan (BRA) in second and Henriette Koch/Lene Sommer (DEN) in third.
At the time of writing, there are a number of protests being heard.
Results at Open Europeans website