420 Open and Ladies European Championships are being held in Tavira, Portugal from 20th to 29th July 2011.
On day four the challenge for some was to remain focused after yesterday's lay day spent relaxing. With the six-race qualification series completed and the Open and Ladies fleets seeded into gold and silver after Monday's racing, it was back into battle.
Anticipating light winds over the coming days, three races for all fleets were scheduled which delivered a fantastic day of racing. The breeze wasn't as strong as expected, not getting above 10-11 knots, with the pressure changing all around the course. Combined with the strong current, the sailors had a challenging day, with particularly interesting mark roundings offering significant wins and losses.
The Kavas brothers continue to put Greece at the front in the 78 boat strong Open fleet, but upset in the Ladies fleet as France's Jennifer Poret/Louise Chevet let their form slip which helped hand the lead to Italy's Celli/Morini. Open
The Kavas brothers from Greece are crunching the competition underfoot, and aside from a black flag penalty in race five have not put the bow of their boat off a virtually perfect track around the course. They must be starting to get quietly confident now of the European Championships outcome as more wins in races seven and nine today increases their points margin over the fleet to 16 points. Meanwhile their rivals would be forgiven for thinking there must be some sort of secret to their performance, but when you ask around the boat park the consensus is 'they are just sailing perfect races.'
Jury Chair Helmut Czasny (AUT) who is close up to the action, concluded, 'They are neat, they concentrate, they do only what they need to do. They are never in the spotlight, they start in a safe place, and they always try to go on the favoured side first. Then they know they are fast on every tack and gybe they do.'
An unassuming pair, helm and younger brother Alexander did admit with a smile that they were expecting to be at the front of the fleet. Coach Nick Drougas commented, 'What is special is their sailing talent which comes from hard work. When you talk to these guys, they just put it on their hard disk immediately. Also they are not here to win only, they enjoy sailing.'
With three races left to conclude the Championships, chasing hard but with little hope of catching their rivals are Jacopo Cunial/Michele Inchiostri who put in a 6,2,7 to shift into second overall on points count back over the French.
It is unlikely the French are that disappointed to drop to third overall as they still surprised to be at the front of the pack. A lack of experience at international events is not proving problematic for Clovic Leroux/Aymeric Paruit, who said, 'When we arrived at the Championship our first objective was the gold fleet,' so when they first wore the coloured bib after day one of racing, Leroux said 'I thought wow, what am I doing here? It was crazy.' They have been sailing together for ten months, with the 2011 Open Europeans their first international championships, and Leroux puts their success primarily down to the great support and spirit in the French team camp here in Tavira.
From front to back; and currently at the very back of the fleet are Russia's Daniil Banayan/Andrei Zviagintcev who are competing at their first ever international event. Banayan has been sailing the 420 for 14 months and before that the Optimist, but as a team they only paired up in February 2011, the same time Zviagintcev took up sailing. Based in St Petersburg, the next stop on their calendar is the Russian 420 National Championships. Banayan explained their mission in Tavira is just to train and experience an international event. Ladies
The competition is reaching a head in the 62 boat ladies fleet as the fight for podium places starts to get exciting, particularly amongst the front four boats who have a significant points margin over the rest of the fleet. It is impossible to predict where this event is going and we are set for a roller coaster to the end.
Frustration for Jennifer Poret/Louise Chevet (FRA) whose black flag penalty combined with a stunning two wins in the bag from Cristina Celli/Silvia Morini (ITA) gives the Italians the yellow jersey going into day five of racing on Thursday.
A smiling Morini said, 'It was our good day today! We went especially to the right side of the course and there was light wind and we were fast,' before continuing, 'We hoped we would be good, but we didn't know we would be this good.' Their five years as a team is clearly paying dividends, and started when they were sailing Optimists together aged six, as Celli explained, 'We have a beautiful sailing relationship. We discuss sailing on the water, but after the race we don't discuss it!'
Poret/Chevet's first mistake of the series may turn out to be their last and the one which blocks their way back to the top. Germany's Paulina Rothlauf/Madlen Geisler drop down to third overall after an 11,2,12 scoreline today.
The four boat frontrunners each have impressive 420 pedigrees, and the first three of these will now want to cover their backs as Switzerland's Linda Fahrni/Maja Siegenthaler (SUI) move closer to the fray as they jump up into fourth overall.
After four years 420 sailing, Linda Fahrni/Maja Siegenthaler (SUI) are competing at their last ever event in the 420, as they make their move to the 470. Recent top results include 11th at the 2011 420 Worlds, 14th at the 2010 420 Worlds and Gold at the 2010 ISAF Youth Words. After a tentative start here in Tavira they have made an impressive recovery, and except for race three have top ten results throughout. They are only five points off third place and 17 off first so everything and anything can happen. Siegenthaler commented, 'Today there was not so much wind, but for us it was very good. We sailed very confidently and every start was good. The current was very strong, pushing boats behind the line and we tried to say more in front than the others.' And on their opening race seven result, she explained, 'There was a shift on the start and we tacked immediately across the fleet and it was a very nice feeling.' Referring to their normal sailing environment, Sigenthaler continued, 'It is more difficult to sail on the sea than on a lake, because on the lake there are more shifts. It is a different wind here.'
Anticipating the challenge ahead, particularly the pace set by Poret/Chevet, Siegenthaler acknowledged that she could not remember the French previously sailing as well as they are in Tavira, and anticipated it was unlikely that they would be able to overtake them. However, there is no plan to give up on the top spot yet as she said, 'Our plan is to not make mistakes and wait for the others to make mistakes.' Open Provisional Top 10 Overall: Pos / Nation / Crew / Pts
1. GRE 51581 - Alexander Kavas/George Kavas - 34.0
2. ITA 53696 - Jacopo Cunial/Michele Inchiostri - 50.0
3. FRA 53868 - Clovis Leroux/Aymeric Paruit - 50.0
4. FRA 53830 - Etienne Lher/Hugo Lauras - 66.0
5. GRE 53460 - Frantzesko Bakatsias/Evangelos Christopoulos - 68.0 Ladies Provisional Top 10 Overall: Pos / Nation / Crew / Pts
1. ITA 54206 - Cristina Celli/Silvia Morini - 22.0
2. FRA 53540 - Jennifer Poret/Louise Chevet - 24.0
3. GER 54433 - Paulina Rothlauf/Madlen Geisler - 34.8
4. SUI 53468 - Linda Fahrni/Maja Siegenthaler - 39.0
5. ITA 54372 - Alessandra Moretto/Marcella Mamusa - 64.0
With more light wind forecast, the Race Committee has scheduled the warning signal for 1000 hours, Thursday 28 July, with two races scheduled for all fleets. 420 Sailing website