470 Junior European Championships 2011 entry list reads like a who's who of many of the most talented young 470 sailors from Europe and beyond. The Championships has attracted 164 sailors from 22 nations from Argentina to Hungary, Russia to Australia.
Amongst the ranks are the recently crowned 2011 470 Junior World Champions, the women's team of Annika Bochmann/Anika Lorenz (GER) and Sweden's men's champions Nicklas Dackhammer/Fredrik Bergstrom who the week before last were competing in Medemblik, Holland in conditions similar to those they are set to face for the first few days in Belgium – strong winds and a steep chop.
Dackhammer/Bergstrom arrived on venue Monday morning, so as yet have not been out for a practice sail. 'We have only just sorted our accommodation,' smiled Dackhammer, 'and are now going to get our boat ready.' The pair looked extremely cool and are happy to face the first race tomorrow with no prior sail out to the course area. 'We are happy with the conditions we expect to face here,' Dackhammer continued. On Monday afternoon those conditions were fairly extreme out in the North Sea, with gusts of up to 32 knots delivering some exhilarating conditions.
Philip Sparks/Ben Gratton (GBR) training on Monday 8 August 2011 - 2011 470 Junior European Championships - Christophe Favreau Click Here to view large photo
The Swedes will face stiff competition from the 2011 470 Junior World Championships silver and bronze medallists, Kevin Peponnet/Julien Lebrun (FRA) and Philip Sparks (GBR), who claimed bronze with David Kohler (GBR), but is sailing at the Junior Europeans with Ben Gratton. At number 36, Sparks is the highest placed helm on the ISAF Sailing World Rankings, and finished 20th at the 2011 470 Europeans also with Kohler. Peponnet/Lebrun were fourth at the 2010 Junior Europeans and have every chance to improve on last year's result.
The 2010 420 Junior European Champions Yoav Levi/Dan Froyliche (ISR) have made the transition to the 470 and so far in 2011 have shown great form most recently finishing 18th at the 470 Junior Worlds and hold an ISAF Sailing World Ranking of number 116 from results at ISAF Sailing World Cup events.
In the Women's fleet, as ever Germany has a very strong and competitive team, with seven entries. For many of the women's fleet 2011 marks their last year in the junior category, so they will want it to conclude with a bang. Two of the teams who have dominated the 470 Junior Championships over the past couple of years are Victoria Jurczok/Josephine Bach (GER) and Annika Bochmann/Anika Lorenz (GER). Jurczok/Bach won the 2010 470 Junior Worlds, came second at the 2010 470 Junior Europeans and have just finished fifth at the 2011 470 Junior Worlds. Add to that their improving performance on the senior circuit, which gives them a World Ranking of number 37 and you can understand why the higher ranked Bochmann/Lorenz will be watching their path closely.
Bochmann/Lorenz sit just one place behind at number 38 on the ISAF Sailing World Rankings, came second at the 2010 Junior Worlds, won the 2010 470 Junior Europeans and are fresh from a gold medal at the 2011 470 Junior Worlds. Catching up with Jurczok's plans for this week, she said, 'We want to win,' but responded, 'I don't mind we are all in one team,' when asked how she would feel if Bochmann/Lorenz take the Championship title.
Great Britain's Joanna Freeman/Katie Tomsett are also likely to show great pace. Freeman is a former ISAF Youth Worlds competitor, finishing fourth in 2010. The pair just finished fourth at the 2011 470 Junior Worlds.
The British were head to head with their Australian rivals at the Junior Worlds, with the Aussies notching up a tidy scoreline to claim the bronze medal. How much will the finishing order be reversed in Nieuwpoort?
Immediately prior to the Championships, Nick Drougas (GRE) ran a training clinic which attracted 23 teams from 10 nations. Drougas explained the key elements of the clinic, 'What I tried to do was focus on the boat handling at the starts, particularly with the current here. The current flows in a circular motion, but also all around and changes every half an hour. They need to be really well prepared on the starts, and this will be the main issue for them.' Time was also spent on upwind performance and keeping the boat balanced through current, as well as boat set up, such as spreader settings and mainsail trimming.
Racing gets underway on Tuesday 9 August with a scheduled start time at 1400 hours. The wind is forecast to be around 21 knots from the north west for the first couple of days – so we can expect some exciting racing. Racing continues through until Monday 15 August 2011. 470 Class Association website