by Craig Heydon
At the Open European Championships 2011 in Helsinki, Finland, Australian Sailing Team’s 49er sailors Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen have moved into the lead on the penultimate day of racing.
Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen racing in Finland - Photo Emmett Lazich
Starting the day fourth overall, the 2009 World Champions sailed a ninth, a third, a victory and a second. They hold a two point lead over Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign.
Two more races on Wednesday morning are scheduled before the medal race which will be held in the afternoon.
Racing was initially postponed due to light wind before picking up around lunch time, allowing the 49er fleet to complete four races in breeze between nine and 17 knots.
The fleet generally stayed quite compressed, with all of the gold fleet boats finishing within three minutes of each other in all of the races. Outteridge and Jensen were one of the best scoring boats of the day as they aim to continue their strong 2011 European season which so far has resulted in a Silver medal at the ISAF Sailing World Cup round in Holland and a Gold medal at the World Cup event in Weymouth, England.
Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page continue to lead the way in the 470 class with another two days of racing left for the fleet in Finland.
Belcher and Page opened the day with a fifth place finish before winning race two, leaving them eight points ahead of Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell of Great Britain.
Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page leading the way at the 2011 European Championships - Photo Victor Kovalenko
'Today was the first day of gold fleet racing, and it’s always nice to be racing the top guys instead of watching them in other fleets,' said Belcher. 'We had a total change of conditions from yesterday, we were postponed onshore to wait for a front to pass before being sent out in a pretty gusty 13-20 knot breeze.
'It was another solid day for us with a five and a one and we’re pretty happy with our performance so far and will be looking to continue this through the next few days,' he said. 'With four races to go, things will certainly change but we’re enjoying the racing and looking forward to getting to the starting line tomorrow.'
Fellow Australians Sam Kivell and Will Ryan have maintained their 18th position following a 24th and an 11th in Tuesday’s two races.
In the 470 silver fleet Alexander and Patrick Conway sit in eighth after a third and a fifth while Max Taylor and Tim Hannah are 15th with a 14th and an 11th in the day’s two races.
49er sailors Will and Sam Phillips are 15th overall, showing some good in a number of Tuesday’s races and at just 15 points off the top 10 still have an opportunity to make the final medal race.
Steven Thomas and Nick Brownie sit in 21st after a tough day of racing, including an incident with a Japanese crew which the Australians later won on protest.
Australian Sailing Team website