Access Class European Championships day one racing commenced on Lake Garda today.
The sun was shining and so were the spirits of the competitors, but the breeze refused to cooperate and the morning program was eventually postponed. The beautiful mountain scenery did make up for the lack of wind though. Shortly after noon a light ‘Ora’ breeze started to appear, coming from the south. Club and team volunteers were quickly in action to get help get the sailors afloat.
The wind was not enough for the slower Access 2.3’s who only managed one lengthy race and the time limit giving Reis Pedro Cancio (POR) a head start on the fleet. An extra session has been planned for this fleet tomorrow.
Reigning World Champion in the Access 303 Single Person class, Zoltan Pegan (HUN) showed how it was done with wins in both races today. Verona sailor, Luca Mantovani (ITA), who has only been racing in the Access classes for one year, sailed consistently to take second place behind the master on the first day of competition.
The Liberty division already looks like being close. On equal points are Barry Coates (AUS), Wilma van den Broek (NED) and Vera Voorbach (NED) with Coates holding first place thanks to his win in the second heat. Another Australian, Russell Phillips, won the first heat and sits one point behind the tied group.
Coates was runner up at the last European Championships and was third at the 2010 World Championships in the UK. He will be planning to push harder and build on his slender lead.
Barry Coates (AUS) leads the Liberty division after the first day in Gargnano - Access Class European Championship day 1 - David Staley - copyright Click Here to view large photo
The two-person divisions were sailed in slightly more breeze, mainly 5-6 knots. Zoltan Pegan and Eva Mircsev (HUN) are current European and World Champions in the Access 303 Two Person class and repeated Pegan’s earlier effort with two wins from two starts. The leads they managed to build in today’s races are ominous and the competition will need to come up with something very special to get their names on the trophy.
With the Skandia Sail for Gold regatta and the IFDS World Championships just around the corner, the five SKUD 18 teams competing in Gargnano are pushing to get the best out of their boats and themselves. Two of the five boats have new line-ups with Marco Gualandris (former Paralympic sailor) and Marta Zanetti (ITA), both coming from the 2.4mR class to see if they can qualify Italy for the London Paralympics in 2012. The other new pairing is Alex Hovden with Kate Mannerings (GBR), who placed second to the current IFDS World Champions in Hyeres recently.
After racing, Hovden offered; 'It was a very good start to the regatta. Kate and I are satisfied with our preparations. All is still to play for though, so we are not going to lose our focus, but will try to relax and enjoy the event too.'
The new partnerships are paying off for both teams who are leading the fleet. Hovden & Mannerings are in front with a 1-1-2 score line.
Racing in the Access Class European Championships continues on Lake Garda until Sunday.
Italy’s Marco Gualandris & Marta Zanetti are second after the first day of their debut SKUD 18 regatta - Access Class European Championship day 1 - David Staley - copyright Click Here to view large photo
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