Open Europeans 2011 have now commenced for the Finn class with three races, most of which were offshore, taking place on Sunday. The fleet was rewarded with 12-16 knots of very consistent wind, some great wave patterns and close, exciting racing.
Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) opened his defence of the title he has won for that past two years in the best way with a win. He followed this up with a fourth and 17th to sit in sixth place overnight.
The following two races were both won by Andrew Mills (GBR) after a fifth in the first race, and he heads up the 71 boat fleet after the first day. Pieter Jan Postma (NED) posted three top-three races to lie in second overnight while Giles Scott recovered from a ninth in the first race to post a second and third to end up in third overall.
Mills summed up his fantastic day, 'It was a great day's racing today with 12-16 knots of breeze, and a nice consistent wind, so it was probably a good idea that we didn't race yesterday as we had some really good racing today. Because of the consistent wind it was really important to get a good start and not have any boats mucking you up, so you could just put the bow down and go fast. Both sides were coming in at times, so just going fast and getting some clear air was the key today.'
Racing for the Finns continues on Monday with full fleet racing scheduled until Wednesday, with the medal race for the top 10 and the final race for the rest on Thursday 14 July.
A perfect breeze of around 12 knots arrived on time on Course Area D for all racing to get underway as scheduled in the 470 fleet. A great day for some, a reversal of fortunes for others, whilst one team just wished they had stayed in bed!
The 470 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. Going into today's racing, Matthew Belcher/Malcolm Page (AUS) and Ryunosuke Harada/Yugo Yoshida (JPN) were on equal points after delivering two bullets each from day one – so the battle was on to secure the clear points lead.
Belcher/Page secured a third in race three in the 470 men red fleet, followed by another win in race four, to give them a seven point margin at the front, although as Page reflected, 'We can certainly lose that in a race!'
Ryunosuke Harada/Yugo Yoshida started their day well with a fourth place in race three, but disaster struck with an OCS in race four to convert to 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.
In the yellow fleet Juan de la Fuente/Lucas Calabrese (ARG) delivered a tidy race win in race three, which certainly put a smile on Juan's face, with race four won by the British team of Luke Patience/Stuart Bithell to shift them up to fourth overall. A smiling Patience reflected on the day, '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 top three 470 men overall in the 470 men after today's four races are Belcher/Page (AUS) leading, Sime Fantela/Igor Marenic (CRO) in second overall after a 2,5 and Gideon Kliger/Eran Sela posting a 1,3 today to push them up into third.
Four of the six races constituting 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 three and fifth in race four, to give them a 12 point margin over second placed Fernanda Oliviera/Ana Luisa Barbachan (BRA).
'It was really good,' Betanzos explained , '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 tumble down the standings for overnight leaders Tina Mrak/Teja Cerne (SLO) who finished sixteenth in race three, which was followed up with a black flag in race four, to place in eleventh overall.
Ai Kondo and Wakako Tabata's years of experience didn't help today as despite leading around the track for most of race four, the Japanese duo slipped up on the last leg to the Greek team of Virginia Kravarioti/Olga Tsigaridi who took the race win by two seconds. Adding further pain for the Japanese was the subsequent discovery of their black flag penalty in race four, which drops them to eleventh overall after four races.
Not a good day for the British team of Hannah Mills/Saskia Clark (GBR), as Clark exclaimed after racing, 'We wish we'd stayed in bed today!' In race three they were black flagged, whilst a capsize in race four 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,' explained Mills referencing their struggle on the upturned hull which has helped to drop them to #39 in the fleet.
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.
The final day of qualifying for the Seiko 49er European's, provided perfect conditions for both courses with an average velocity of 15 knots with puffs to 18. For some of the sailors this provided challenging conditions while for others they reveled in the stronger breeze.
Nico Delle Karth/Nikolaus Resch (AUT) continued their winning ways.. Resch explained, 'our speed was really good and decisions were really good, except for our starts...on the last race finally we managed to capsize on the second upwind when we were in ninth position but we reached too much and pressure was in the sail and we gybed and it was too late.' Despite the capsize, they lead going into the gold fleet split for tomorrows racing with a six point lead over Nathan Outteridge/Iain Jensen (AUS).
With racing on two courses just beside the shoreline, Resch commented that both courses 'seem very equal with yesterdays wind more stable on the outside course and excellent racing.' The daily splits found some sailors competing on both courses.
The sixty-six boat fleet is represented by twenty-one nations with thirteen of those represented in the Gold fleet showing the strong competition that is worldwide.
With nine races completed the leaders going into the gold fleet remain Nico Delle Karth/Nikolaus Resch (AUT) followed by Nathan Outteridge/Iain Jensen (AUS) with Erik Heil and Thomas Ploessel (GER) in third overall.
The final series begins tomorrow with gold and silver fleet racing culminating with the medal race to be held on 13 July.
Open Europeans 2011 website