The final day of the Byte CII European Championship was sailed in the rain but, with the rain came much warmer weather. The previous day had seen temperatures plunge in the north wind and the competitors had been well bundled up, see below, so the rain was a small relief.
2009 Byte CII European Championship and YOG Qualifier day 4
The competitors were kept onshore by the RC until mid-morning and it looked like there might be no sailing and the regatta wind up with only seven races. However the RC found wind out on the water and three races were sailed in light and tricky, but nevertheless fair, conditions.
Peter Batho of Hungary, with a comfortable lead going in to the last day, started out with two poor races - a 13th and a 19th, and needed to do better than 10th in the last race or the Championship would slip away. He was fifth and, with the sailing of a 10th race, an extra discard kicked in and he won by four points over Kaarle Tapper of Finland. Third was Italian Marco Benini who came on very strongly at the end of the regatta finishing with a formidable 1, 2, 3, 2, and only two points out of second.
Two Singapore sailors Terrence Choo and Darren Choy, the current runner-up and Byte CII World Champions respectively, flew in at the last minute from the Asian Qualifiers in Thailand the weekend before where Choy was second overall but first amongst those eligible, by age, to qualify for the YOG and Choo fourth overall. Although jet-lagged, Choo and Choy finished fourth and seventh overall in the European's but provided a good benchmark for the European sailors.
Sara Piasecka of Poland sailed a beautifully consistent series and, with the second drop in effect, was able to discard her 11th place in race 9 - her only finish below sixth. She was equally at home in both heavy and light air and, if she represents Poland in the YOG, she will be an early favourite. Second place went to Lara Vadlau of Austria who saw any chance of catching Piasecka disappear when she was OCS in the last race. Third was Daphne Van der Vaart of the Netherlands and, in fourth, Finnish sailor Nikki Blassar who, with her compatriot Kaarle Tapper, were the only competitors in Imperia both able to qualify their country for the YOG. Rounding out the top five was Najwa Jumali of Singapore the current Byte CII Women's World Champion who had also been in Thailand the previous weekend.
The final results were a big disappointment for Slovenia. The country's sailors finished in the eighth qualifying spot in BOTH divisions - two points out in the men's and four points out in the women's. Although both Luka Zan and Eva Paternelj had some good races - particularly Paternelj with a 2, 3 in the last two races - they were not quite consistent enough. However, they will certainly be looking to qualify at the World Championship in Cannes in April which is a YOG Qualifier open to all nations.
A Special Note of Appreciation: The Byte Class International Association would like to express its sincere thanks to the Yacht Club Imperia, its Officers and Volunteers, the Race Committee and the on-the-water Jury for all their help and expertise in the running of this Continental Qualifying event. They have all made it a memorable Championship and the Class is most appreciative.