The 420 Open and Ladies European Championships resulted in a nervous morning for many as they tried to stay calm, not knowing if races would or would not happen as the wind repeated its disappearing act from Thursday. Fortunately, the 2011 edition was concluded with a final race 10 for all fleets as the wind kicked in this afternoon in a five-six knot breeze and slight swell.
Open: After two general recalls race 10 for the Open Gold fleet got underway in an increasing breeze. The outstanding series leaders, the Kavas brothers were nowhere to be seen after a poor start left them deep in the pack, but their significant points margin gave them little to worry about and despite a fourteenth place finish the gold medals had Greek ownership. The real battle was playing out ahead of them as the French and Italians challenged for silver and bronze.
'I feel very happy,' said Alexander, 'this is our best sailing achievement so far.' It is even sweeter for them as they lost the gold medal in the final race of last year's 470 Junior Europeans. Their next big plan is a hat trick year in 2012, with a target of wins at the 2012 ISAF Youth Worlds, an event they chose to miss this year to focus on the Europeans, as well as the 2012 420 Worlds and 2012 420 Junior Europeans – and most probably in the same seven year old boat they used to win gold here in Portugal. Longer term they have their sights on the 2016 Olympic Games.
When asked if there was something about them that people would be surprised to know, Alexander said, 'We don't have a television.' Another secret to their success perhaps?
Jacopo Cunial/Michele Inchiostri (ITA) found themselves trailing mid-fleet at the first windward mark, with Clovis Leroux/Aymeric Paruit (FRA) about 10 boats ahead and safely in sight of the silver medal. Assured sailing gave the Italians the edge upwind and they reeled in the French team to enter into a virtual match race for the medals. An exciting head to head, but ultimately the Italians just couldn't get past the French and finished in bronze medal position just two points adrift.
'I am very happy with the good result. In this ultimate race we did not start very well. In the second upwind we caught up with France 52868 (Leroux/Paruit), but could not beat them,' said Cunial. 'I am not happy to have gone from second overall to third, but we have a medal and we are happy. We thought we would be stronger if there was strong wind and we didn't know we could do so well in light winds – so this is a surprise.' Complimenting the Kavas brothers, Cunial added, 'They are very fast and very good.'
Leroux/Paruit (FRA) had the objective of just qualifying for the gold fleet prior to the Championships starting, so were in disbelief with their own silver medal performance. 'Personally I don't realize this. I can't believe it now, but maybe later. This is a dream for me,' said a still shell shocked Paruit. 'The objective was the gold fleet, never the podium, we never even thought about it.'
A surprise tenth overall outcome for the recently crowned ISAF Youth Sailing World Champions Jordi Xammar/Alex Claville (ESP) who couldn't repeat their form from Croatia. You can't underestimate the demands of top level competition and this team gave everything to the Youth Worlds and came to the 420 Open Europeans drained from that event with little time to recover before they faced the next starting line. Open Top 10 Overall
No. Sailno - Name - Pts
1 . GRE 51581 - Alexander Kavas/George Kavas - 48,0
2 . FRA 53868 - Clovis Leroux/Aymeric Paruit - 55,0
3 . ITA 53696 - Jacopo Cunial/Michele Inchiostri - 57,0
4 . GRE 53460 - Frantzesko Bakatsias/Evangelos Christopoulos - 71,0
5 . ESP 53873 - Luis Benítez-Inglot/Jorge Ramirez - 77,0
6 . FRA 53830 - Etienne Lher/Hugo Lauras - 88,0
7 . ITA 52905 - Matia Ugrin/Mirko Juretic - 94,0
8 . POR 54404 - Luis Niza/Paulo Baptista - 95,0
9 . POR 54213 - Gonçalo Pires/Nuno Bajanca - 98,0
10 . ESP 53835 - Jordi Xammar/Alex Clavillé - 105,0
Ladies: The gold and silver medals looked fairly certain going into race 10, the only question was whether they would go to the Italian or French teams. The battle for bronze came down to 0.8 of a point between the third and fourth placed Swiss and German teams.
Action in the protest room meant the final podium places were not confirmed until about three hours after racing and whilst the protests did not actually change the final outcome of the top three, they gave tense moments all around.
Italy's Cristina Celli/Siliva Morini were disqualified from race 10 after a pre-start incident, but this had no impact on their final gold medal winning position on the leaderboard as the DSQ was discarded. A career best for Celli/Morini (ITA), who up until today ranked their bronze medal at the 2010 420 Worlds as their best performance.
'It was a very exciting race, but very difficult,' commented Morini, before explaining, 'We were all the time neck and neck with the French. We are very happy.' Significantly for this pair the Europeans marks their penultimate event partnership, as once they have competed in the Italian Nationals they will go their separate ways. Morini is heading to University to study medicine, whilst Celli will be transferring her skills to the 470 with a new crew. A wonderful 420 career ending high for this team.
They made a wonderful sight at the Medal Ceremony singing their hearts out to the Italian national anthem with massive smiles on their faces, and Morini's very proud parents watching.
A solid twelfth place finish delivered Jennifer Poret/Louise Chevet (FRA) the silver medal. 'We knew that we could do something, but not this result. We are very happy now. This is our best result,' said Chevet.
The next battle was for bronze, with both contending teams, Linda Fahrni/Maja Siegenthaler (SUI) and Paulina Rothaluf/Madlen Geisler (GER) recording their worst results of the series in race 10, as they covered each other throughout the race – which ended advantage Switzerland.
A sweet end to the 420 career of Fahrni/Siegenthaler who will be selling their 420 'Dorri' and moving to their new 470 called 'Lily'. Their Swiss teammates have also bought a 470 which they have named 'James', the boats' namesakes being Harry Potter's parents!
'I am so happy we could sail today, as it was the last time for us as a 420 team, and it turned out great,' an excited Siegenthaler exclaimed. The pair won the 2010 ISAF Youth Worlds and clearly have a great career ahead of them, but with no immediate plans to head straight to the international circuit but rather hone their skills at national events first.
Camille Rossi/Aurelie Vilette (FRA) won the Ladies Silver Fleet. Ladies Top 10 Overall
No. Sailno - Name - Pts
1 . ITA 54206 - Cristina Celli/Silvia Morini - 33,0
2 . FRA 53540 - Jennifer Poret/Louise Chevet - 36,0
3 . SUI 53468 - Linda Fahrni/Maja Siegenthaler - 46,0
4 . GER 54433 - Paulina Rothlauf/Madlen Geisler - 46,8
5 . ITA 54372 - Alessandra Moretto/Marcella Mamusa - 70,0
6 . ITA 54077 - Ilaria Paternoster/Benedetta Di Salle - 73,0
7 . ESP 52373 - Aura Miquel/Marina Cano - 86,0
8 . GBR 54194 - Jessica Lavery/Georgie Mothersele - 91,0
9 . FRA 54265 - Clélia Bourgois/Aude Compan - 91,0
10 . GRE 53168 - Aikaterini Kaitatzidou/Sofia Kaitatzidou - 92,0
There have been stunning performances out on the race course, not just at the front of the fleet but across all levels as teams achieved the goals they set themselves and more. Teams to mention are the Israelis who achieved matching results in the Open and Ladies fleets with twelfth place finishes achieved by Gal Cohen/Hadar Moran and Tsuf Zamet/Stav Brokman respectively. Turkey's Ipeknaz Ozden/Deniz Gokmeral finished eleventh overall in the Ladies Gold fleet, outside the top 10 by just one point. This most probably marks a best ever result in recent times for Turkey's 420 sailors. Cafer and Caner Cicibiyik (TUR) claimed victory in the Open Silver fleet, with wins in two races across the final series. 420 Sailing website