At the Open Europeans 2011, the 470 European Championships penultimate day has decided the contenders for the Medal Races., while Giles Scott (GBR) won the Finn Europeans after victory in the medal race.
He ruffled the leader and defending champion Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) in the pre-start and took the lead on the second upwind. A fourth for the Croatian levelled the points with Scott, but Scott took the title on the medal race result.
The battled for bronze between Andrew Mills (GBR) and Thomas Le Breton (FRA) left Mills jumping out ahead of Le Breton and then covering him throughout the race. They finished eighth and ninth so Mills won the bronze.
It was a long wait for the medal race as early morning there was no wind, but the race got underway in six-eight knots at about 1330 and soon increased to 10-11 knots as the sea breeze began to build, with Oscar flag for free pumping going up on the second downwind.
The Junior title went to to Josip Olujic (CRO). Going into the regatta as one of the favourites, he trailed Egor Terpigorev (RUS) from the opening day and only passed him on the tricky races on Wednesday. In third place was the fast improving Julian Massler (GER).
Scott was ecstatic in his victory, his first major championship win and coming weeks after his disappointment at losing the British trials for the Olympic test event. His first reaction, 'Total relief!'
'A big thanks to Peter Reggio for doing a great job. I think everyone would agree we had some great racing and he had some tricky decision to make and I for one think he made the correct decision every time. I'm sure most of my competitors know that at Sail for Gold, I finished second, so to be honest to come here and win just feels great.'
Today was the day that decided the top 10 boats going through to each of the 470 Men and 470 Women Medal Races which will determine the teams who will secure medals at the 2011 470 European Championships and prizes for the 2011 470 Open European Championships.
One race was held for the 470 Men Gold, 470 Men Silver and 470 Women fleets.
Perhaps local knowledge helped Finnish brothers Joonas and Niklas Lindgren deliver a race win in the 470 Men Gold fleet and qualify through to the Medal Race. Eyes are now on this team to carry Finland's pride and become the top performing Finnish team of the entire Olympic Class European Championships. Whilst they are out of medal contention they can still move up the leaderboard by several places.
Job done for Mat Belcher and Malcolm Page (AUS) who have secured their victory as the 470 Open European Championships, despite their worst result of the series. They got buried in the fleet after a bad choice had them take the left hand side of the track upwind. They crossed the line in 25th place.
The British team of Luke Patience andStuart Bithell also headed up the left and finished 27th in race 12. They suffered the consequences of that choice, dropping from second overall to fourth going into the Medal Race. With the quality of this fleet and double points in the Medal Race, Patience andBithell have 'a big ask' on their hands to be near the podium. Equally disappointed are Japan's Ryunosuke Harada and Yugo Yoshida who finished with a 29th in race 12 tumbling them down to ninth overall and puting an end to their progress towards the podium.
A frustrated Patience reflected, 'We have thrown away some mega points in the results. I hope we are in a position where we can still win a medal.'
Sime Fantela andIgor Marenic (CRO) sailed a good race today and go into the Medal Race in second overall, with a chance at both the European and Open European podium places. Igor was pleased with their delivery. 'It was quite a hard race. We had some difficulties on the start and then we managed to get clear wind quite early and decided to go right which was better, so it worked really well from the first upwind. We were then at the top of the fleet and so just sailed.'
In the 470 Womens class, the British team of Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark flew around the race track to dominate throughout, taking a win in race 12 and increasing their chances of a medal position, moving up to fourth overall.
However, it is still Spain's remarkable young team of Tara Pacheco and Berta Betanzos who lead the fleet and today they sealed themselves either the Gold or Silver Medal. 'We have to keep going and doing well in the Medal Race tomorrow and just think about it', said Pacheco.
The Spanish regularly train with the second placed Brazilian team Fernanda Oliveira and Ana Luisa Barbachan and Pacheco acknowledged her pleasure that both teams have done so well here in Helsinki, 'Yeh, yeh – I think that tomorrow we will also train together before the start. We will see.' Pacheco's plan for tonight is 'a big hamburger!' and 'maybe go to bed early.'
The Danish team of Henriette Koch and Lene Sommer (DEN) stayed firmly in third overall and a finish of seventh of better tomorrow will see them, at worst, secure the bronze medal. However they are looking for higher places than that. Koch said, 'If we sail well it is going to end up pretty good for us, so that is what we are going to focus on.' On how they will relax tonight, Sommer smiled, 'Watch some Tour de France on TV or maybe a church visit,' before clarifying with a laugh, 'but not to pray for our sailing, to be a tourist!'
The schedule for the final day of racing at the 2011 470 European Championships will be a warning signal at 0955 hours for 470 Women Race 13 (excluding top 10), followed by 470 Men Gold (excluding top 10) and 470 Silver. The warning signal for the 470 Mens Medal Race is scheduled for 1155 hours and for the 470 Womens Medal Race at 1255 hours.
Medals will be awarded to the teams eligible for the 470 European Championships, with prizes also awarded to the top three boats in the 470 Open European Championships. Open Europeans website