470 European Championships 2011 is being held in Helsinki, Finland. It was a stunning opening day for Japan, Australia and Slovenia.
After a long, hot and patient wait at the Championships this morning with racing postponed due to lack of wind, the action on day one of racing eventually got underway in the late afternoon. Fortunately for the 470 fleet, the Race Committee had already decided the night before that the warning signal for the first race of the day would be postponed until 1155 hours, so the 470 fleet start down at the boat park was not as early as some.
The 74 boat 470 men have been split into two fleets, red and yellow, with an equal assignment of boats to each fleet, seeded based on their World Rankings. Seventeen of the men's top 20 teams are competing here in Helsinki, so it is inevitable that racing will be close.
Up to the race track first were the 470 men yellow fleet, including the world number one team of Mat Belcher/ Malcolm Page (AUS) in its ranks and they did what they do best – a race win in race one.
All eyes were on the Australian team as they went into race two for the yellow fleet and continued their stunning form with a second race win. But across in the 470 men red fleet Ryunosuke Harada/Yugo Yoshida (JPN) matched the delivery of the Australians with two race wins – which puts both teams on equal points leading overall after day one. A 4,2 for Sime Fantela/Igor Marenic (CRO) places them in third overall.
Reviewing today's opening race one Page said, 'The Greeks [Kampouridis/Papadopoulos] were leading for most of the race – and we caught them up towards the end of the second leg. There were sort of like little puffs and randomly I guess we got them better than most and were able to come through. We didn't do anything crazy, didn't grab a corner or anything like that, but just got a little bit better than those boats around us and came through and it felt like that most of the day - in control.'
And on their gameplan for day two, 'More of today – that would be the ideal.'
Get the latest update on the 470 Men racing - including blog, results and live tracking via the dedicated Class Page
After the morning's wait for wind, the 43 boat 470 Women fleet got racing in a steady 10-12 knot breeze, with a general recall in race one followed by a clear start. Race one was a close finish between Slovenia and Spain, with world ranked number 23 Tina Mrak/Teja Cerne just moving ahead to take the gun by six seconds over world number 11 Tara Pacheco/Berta Betanzos.
Several boats were sent off the race course in race two, suffering the consequence of a black flag penalty. Annika Bochmann/Anika Lorenz (GER) were pretty satisfied with their eleventh place in race 1 today, so were disappointed to be back on shore early from race two. 'We thought it was clear, I am really disappointed to come home,' said Lorenz, before returning to their race 1 success. 'We had a very good shift to to the left and rounded the windward mark in third or fourth, but then during the first downwind and second upwind we lost a few places. But, it was really good and I am satisfied.'
In 2010 the pair won the 470 Women's Junior European Championships and came second at the 470 Women's Junior Worlds – so are well on track to deliver a great performance here in Helsinki.
Their German team mates Victoria Jurczok/Josephine Bach suffered the same fate, with a black flag following on from a race one finish of 26. However, this pair were more concerned about their game plan on the race course in race one. 'There is one big rock in the middle of the course, it splits the fleet,' explained Jurczok. 'Both times we went the wrong side of the course. Since our last event we haven't been lucky with the sides of the upwind leg. I don't know why – we always seem to take the wrong one. But it can just get better ..., ' she concluded.
The Spanish pair of Pacheco/Betanzos again kept the pressure on in race two and were in the leading pack, with their main focus on challenging the Brazilian boat helmed by 2008 Olympic bronze medal winning helm Fernanda Oliveira, with crew Ana Luisa Barbachan, who had grabbed the lead early on.
Commenting on their mission to reel in the Brazilians, Betanzos said, 'It was hard to attack as she was quite far away from us, but we tried to get to her by sailing the best we can, but we knew it was going to be hard because she was really far ahead.'
Delighted with their performance today, Oliveira said, 'In the first race our start was not so good, we started in the middle. I don't know how many boats we passed. In the first race we went from 10, to 7 to 4 – got better all the time.'
And on their race win, 'In the first 10 minutes I think we had the lead. We started on the right side and then tacked and we could sail with clear air with good wind, and then we tacked again and it was done. It was a big difference against the fleet.'
Get the latest update on the 470 Women racing - including blog, results and live tracking via the dedicated Class Page
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