by David Staley
The Combined Access Class 2013 European Championships, held from from 7th to 12th May in Switzerland, have just concluded on Lake Constance. Yacht Club Arbon hosted the event in cooperation with Sailability Switzerland. Seventy one entries from twelve nations competed in the Access 2.3, 303, Liberty and SKUD 18 classes.
2013 Access Class European Championships
The weather was not kind to organisers or sailors with plenty of rain and generally light winds. Some fresher breezes on the final day enabled the racing program to be completed for all divisions.
SKUD Start - 2013 Access Class European Championships
A strong fleet of ten SKUD 18s competed at the Championships. In the post Paralympic year, it was good to see a mix of experienced and new teams on the water. Italy had three crews contesting the event, two Polish teams had their first hit-out and crews from France and the Netherlands returned to SKUD competition.
Last year's Paralympic Bronze Medallists, Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell (GBR), made a clean sweep of the placings but were not without challengers. Italy's Marco Gualandris and Marta Zanetti were fast all week, leading several races but unable to match the tactical ability of the Brits. Andrzej Bury and Grzegorz Prokopowicz (POL) were very happy to make the podium in their debut regatta, taking third place on tie-break from the experienced Spaniards Diana Cantalejo and Francisco Villa with a good final day.
SKUDs - 2013 Access Class European Championships
Next year about this time, the SKUDs will be competing on Italy's Lake Garda in the first round of the 2014 EUROSAF Champions Cup being held at Riva del Garda.
In the Liberty competition, Gerard Eychenne (FRA) dominated every race and finished with a perfect score. Barry Coates (AUS) was second, ahead of Paul Speight (FRA). Cristina Rubke (USA) was best of the Servo Liberty sailors, just a point clear of Wilma van den Broek (NED).
Zoltan Pegan and Eva Mircsev (HUN) have retained the two-person 303 championship title they claimed both in Italy in 2011 and at the inaugural European Championships in France two years earlier. Second place was also a repeat of 2011, with Joshua Rothenhausler and Dominique Scheller (SUI) finishing as runners-up. The gap has narrowed however, with a single point separating the top two teams. Third were Roger Lieberherr and Christion Schiller (SUI).
The single-person 303 competition was won by Gilles Guyon (FRA) who put together consistent top three placings to finish five points ahead of Joao Pinto (POR) . Countryman Carlos Araujo (POR) was just one point behind in the third place won by a tie-break to Frenchman Guy Lassalle.
After finishing second at Lake Garda two years ago, Lindsay Burns (GBR) has won the 2.3 European Championship. Only the minimum four races were completed in this fleet, but Burns made the most of the opportunities making a perfect scorecard. Fernando Pinto and Luisa Graca, both from Portugal, were second and third.
A busy summer still lies ahead with National Championships being held in Switzerland, France, Italy, Portugal and the UK. The next international level event for the Access Classes is the North American Championships being held in San Francisco in early September – the same venue that will host the 2014 World and International Championships.
Access Class website.