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sail-world.com -- 49er and 49erFX Europeans - More than a two-horse race + Video

49er and 49erFX Europeans - More than a two-horse race + Video    
Sun, 7 Jul 2013

On day five of the 49er and 49erFX European Championships, honours for the women went to Brasil’s Martine Soffiati Grael, daughter of legendary Brazilian sailor and five times Olympic medalist, Torben Grael (whose Danish ancestry is occasionally invoked depending on the company).

Grael and her crew Kattena Larsen Kunze won the first race and were second in the second to jump from fourth into second and cut into the lead of local favourites Ida Marie Baad Nielsen and Marie Thusgaard Olsen to 11 points.

There will be more than a two-horse race with both men’s and women’s fleets having been cut to an elite eight for the three scheduled medal races on Sunday.

With conditions different on all five days so far, Aarhus will ensure that the best all round sailors will take the medals in the exciting ‘theatre’ style format, where the boats race between defined lanes close to shore. Sailing needs to be more watchable and the mixture of technology and geography of this compact city and its beautiful bay means this event has been all about heroes you can touch.

The one thing Aarhus, Denmark’s city of sails, is never short of is wind. On the rare occasions it’s light in the morning, it picks up perfectly after lunch. So it was on Saturday with a steady sea breeze arriving in the afternoon.

Where they had been uncertain and timid in the stronger but more shifty winds on Friday, the Brazilians were certain and ruthless on Saturday. 'We were angry about yesterday,' Grael said with feeling when the New Zealand crew asked her what had motivated her. 'Yesterday we had a really tough day. Throughout the competition we have always had bad and had to try and work back, so it was nice to change that. We haven’t thought about tomorrow yet.'

The breeze lightened for the Men’s 49er in the late afternoon which seemed to play straight into the hands of second-placed British pair Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign. They flew into the lead in the first of their two races, had over a minute lead as they rounded the first downwind mark and were runaway winners.

But ominously the black spinnaker of the New Zealand boat was holding its own. Peter Burling and Blair Tuke had looked head and shoulders above the rest in the bigger breeze on Friday. They managed a battling second place in the first race and then won the second from the front as the wind eased some more, converting a great start into powerful first beat. That extended their lead over the British to six points.

'It’s pretty stressful in that stuff,' a pretty relaxed-looking Tuke said. 'We’re really relieved to get two good races in those conditions.'

Burling was ready for all comers: 'We are pretty good in the breeze but the worlds (in 2011) where we got second was light, we seem to hold our own in the light.'

But with double points available for the three medal races tomorrow the field is still wide open for a late charge, possibly from Aarhus boy Jonas Warrer, who epitomises the cool and the calm of city that has elevated these championships to the level they deserve.

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Men’s 49er: Results
Women’s 49er FX: Results

49er website

by Matthew Pryor



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