The 2013 49er European Championships will get underway in Arhus, Denmark in less than 48 hours time marking a return to the Olympic campaign trail for New Zealand’s Olympic Silver medallists Peter Burling and Blair Tuke.
Racing will take place over six days starting on Tuesday 2nd July in Arhus where organisers will trial an experimental format for racing. The European Championship Regatta includes both the men’s and women’s Olympic skiff events – the 49er and the 49erFX.
'This will be our first international 49er regatta back since the Olympics so we’re really excited to get back racing and see where the fleet has got to,' says Blair Tuke. 'For us it’s about getting back into it and start going through our routines.'
Staring down the barrel of another four year campaign towards the Olympic Games the men anticipate that many of the top sailors from London 2012 will be back on the circuit; 'It doesn’t sound like many of the good guys aren’t going to give it another crack. I think it’s one of the few fleets where that’s happened and there’s really no one that’s leaving,' says Peter Burling.
Alongside Burling and Tuke another three kiwi crews are preparing for the upcoming competition which will see the world’s best Olympic skiff sailors lining up. Marcus Hansen and Josh Porebski will compete in the 49er, as will Ben Goodwin and Sam Bullock, and 49erFX world number one ranked crew Alexandra Maloney and Molly Meech will be back in action in the women’s racing.
21 year old Alexandra Maloney has sailed at the venue previously when representing New Zealand in the 2008 NZL Yachting Trust Youth Team. 'We had a week of unusual weather, we had big waves and really cold weather', she recalls. 'Hopefully it’s a bit nicer this time.'
After a gold and a silver medal at ISAF Sailing World Cup Regattas in Spain and France earlier this year Maloney and Meech have asserted themselves as a crew to watch, but they’re well aware that it’s early days in the new Olympic discipline and Arhus will provide plenty of opportunity to learn more and see how they’re tracking.
'The Danish girls are our friends, they won in Palma, so obviously there’s a bit of competition between us,' says Meech, 'but there are definitely some crews that we haven’t come up against yet so it will be interesting to see who turns up.'
Racing begins on Tuesday 2nd July local time, moving through qualifying rounds to semi-finals and finals. The medals will be decided on Sunday July 7th when prize-giving will follow racing.
by Jodie Bakewell-White
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11:30 AM Tue 2 Jul 2013GMT
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