International 470 Junior European Championships were held in Nieuwpoort Belgium. Some very close racing delivered outstanding medallists.
The Medal Race course for the top ten in the men/mixed and women's divisions was brought close to shore and adjacent to the beach, but was unable to escape the current which needed to be played carefully today.
The 470 Men/Mixed European Championships was dominated from the outset by Gabriel Skoczek/Achille Nebout (FRA) and through the entire qualification series. But then their run of form disappeared with the wind, and halfway through the Championships it was the turn of team mates Kevin Peponnet/Julien Lebrun (FRA) to take over and set the pace which they did with dominance.
Guaranteed a medal going into the Medal Race, and with a 12 point advantage, the only question for Peponnet/Lebrun was which colour to go for. An easy decision as their third place finish in the medal race was more than sufficient to give them the gold medal. A great medal haul for their season, with the gold joining the silver secured at the 2011 470 Junior Worlds.
A delighted Peponnet, said 'We are pretty fast in these conditions and we sailed very well. We didn't take a lot of risks and we are pretty happy to win this Junior European Championships.' This is the team's best result of their 470 career so far. Nephew of the renowned Thierry Peponnet, who won 470 Olympic gold in 1988 and bronze in 1984, perhaps helps, as Peponnet continued, 'Thierry called me a few minutes ago and he is pretty happy for us, saying 'You are amazing and this is the start of a great career'.'
Silver to Gabriel Skoczek/Achille Nebout (FRA) with Simon Sivitz Kosuta/Jas Farneti (ITA) clawing back up the leaderboard after a second place in the medal race to claim bronze.
After steady upwards progress throughout the week, there was major disappointment for Philip Sparks/Ben Gratton (GBR) who went into the medal race in third, only two points behind Skoczek/Nebout and eight points ahead of Sivitz Kosuta/Farneti. A strong start slowly slipped away as they rounded the first windward mark in eighth, before clawing back on the downwind leg by taking a long gybe off to the right to round in sixth, only to drop back to eighth overall at the second rounding of the windward mark and ultimately finish nine in the medal race and end the Championships in fifth.
Hot hopes, Nicklas Dackhammar/Fredrik Bergstrom (SWE) came here as the predicted favourites after their stunning performance in Medemblik which earned them the Gold Medal. They started on form, and finished the qualification series in third overall. But from there is was downhill as they struggled to find pace in the lighter winds. 'We just didn't have the boat speed here,' said Bergstrom, 'and some of our settings were not quite right.' This is their last 470 junior event, with next step being the senior fleet where they will come head to head with their respective brothers, Victor Bergstrom/Markus Dackhammar (SWE) who also sail together. 470 Men – Overall Top 10
1. Kévin PEPONNET/Julien LEBRUN (FRA) - 27 pts
2. Gabriel SKOCZEK/Achille NEBOUT (FRA) - 45 pts
3. Simon SIVITZ KOSUTA/Jas FARNETI (ITA) - 47 pts
4. Matthew CRAWFORD/Robert CRAWFORD (AUS) - 53 pts
5. Philip SPARKS/Ben GRATTON (GBR) - 53 pts
6. Magnus MASILGE/Moritz KLINGENBERG (GER) - 57 pts
7. Sacha Pelisson/Nicolas Rossi (FRA) – 64 pts
8. Nicklas DACKHAMMAR/Fredrik BERGSTRÖM (SWE) - 74 pts
9. Louis MOYSAN/Baptiste BERTHIER (FRA) – 81 pts
10. Julian AUTENRIETH/Philipp AUTENRIETH (GER) – 86 pts
The women's division was closer in points with no guaranteed outcome for anybody. Victoria Jurczok/Josephine Bach (GER) steamrolled the fleet to win the Medal Race by a considerable advantage, but this was too little too late for this pair who were out of medal contention anyway, so the excitement played out behind them.
As it turned out the top three finishing order on the leaderboard was the same as the order in which they started the day, with Nina Keijzer/Anneloes van Veen (NED) safely claiming the gold, ahead of Annika Bochmann/Anika Lorenz (GER) the silver and Tina Lutz/Susann Beucke (GER) bronze.
Celebrating with their families after racing, Keijzer said, 'It has been great. This is really special for us. We had lots of bad luck in the past year with injuries and other things.' On their domination, Keijzer commented, 'The good thing is that we are good with heavy winds and we showed that with steady conditions and lights winds we are there as well and these conditions were steady enough for us. In Medemblik it was difficult as it was changing a lot. We have missed some experience in 470 because we haven't sailed for about seven to eight months.'
A sixth in the medal race was sufficient to bring home the gold, but only as their closest rivals Bochmann/Lorenz (GER) finished low down as well. 'Well we wanted to start and have our own race and after that we just wanted to see,' said Keijzer. 'We rounded the upwind mark in third and downwind second, but then we started to focus on our competition Bochmann/Lorenz. They tried hard as they went upwind in the middle of the course and it wasn't really good wind, but we didn't want to leave anything to chance so followed them. Yes we lost some places, but at least we stayed in front of them. This is our only medal in the junior 470 events. We also won medals in the 420 but that was a long time ago.' A fitting finale to this team's last event in the junior fleet.
Bochmann/Lorenz (GER) were thrilled with their results, with their silver joining this year's gold medal as 2011 470 Junior World Champions. Lorenz commented, 'I would say we are very happy as we have got everything we want and we won everything we want. We have won every colour of medal in each of the 470 Junior Worlds and Junior Europeans – gold, silver and bronze. Now that is fulfilled, it is a good ending of the junior events.' That reference is to the medals they have achieved at every 470 Junior Championship since 2009. 470 Women – Overall Top 10
1. Nina KEIJZER/Anneloes VAN VEEN (NED) - 41 pts
2. Annika BOCHMANN/Anika LORENZ (GER) - 46 pts
3. Tina LUTZ/Susann BEUCKE (GER) - 49 pts
4. Amy SEABRIGHT/Eilidh MCINTYRE (GBR) - 51 pts
5. Sasha RYAN/Chelsea HALL (AUS) - 56 pts
6. Victoria JURCZOK/Josephine BACH (GER) - 57 pts
7. Anna BURNET/Flora STEWART (GBR) - 60 pts
8. Joanna FREEMAN/Katie TOMSETT (GBR) - 80 pts
9. Cassandre BLANDIN/Charlotte MERY (FRA) - 90 pts
10. Anna KYSELOVA/Anastasiya KRASKO (UKR) - 104.5 pts
The rest of the fleets sailed one final race, with Andraz Gulia/Jakob Bozic (SLO) winning the Men/Mixed Silver fleet and presented with a trophy at the Closing Ceremony. The Closing Ceremony was held at 2000 hours this evening, with hearty national anthem singing and many happy medallists celebrating Formula 1 style by spraying themselves and the audience with champagne.
470 International Solidarity Awards were presented to Pablo Volker/Agustin Cunill Martinez (ARG) and Anna Kyselova/Anastasiya Krasko (UKR) to cover their entry fees to the Championships.
For many of these teams, the 2011 470 Junior Europeans marked their last event in the junior fleet as they will be older than the 21 or under age limit, and will make the move to the senior circuit or for some education is taking a focus and sailing a back seat for a few years.
The 2011 470 Junior European Championships took place together with the 2011 420 Junior European Championships in Nieuwpoort, Belgium from 7 to 15 August 2011. Thanks to the host club Royal Yacht Club Nieuwpoort (KCYN) and all supporting clubs and partners.
The 2012 470 Junior European Championships will be held in Riva del Garda, Italy from 9 to 17 August 2012. Results Event Website