Please select your home edition

470 Europeans: Snow-Hansen and Willcox win Open European 470 Championship

by Richard Gladwell 7 May 07:08 PDT 8 May 2021
New Zealand - Day 6 - Open Mens European 470 championship - Vilamoura, Portugal - May 2021 © Joao Costa Ferreira

The New Zealand Mens 470 crew of Paul Snow-Hansen and Daniel Willcox have won the Open European Mens 470 Championship, being sailed in Vilamoura, Portugal.

Sailing in light winds, the New Zealanders started at the committee boat end and immediately tacked to take the right hand side of the course. The series leader Kevin Peponnet and Jeremie Mion (FRA) took the left, and it soon became apparent that the. New Zealanders had made the right move, leading until the second windward beat when a windshift turned the fleet inside out.

In the scramble to recover lost ground the Kiwis edged through to finish fourth with the French crew dropping back to 9th on the water, allowing Snow-Hansen and Willcox to take the Open European Championship by two points.

Yachting New Zealand reports: Paul Snow-Hansen and Dan Willcox couldn't have asked for a better result heading into the Tokyo Olympics after winning the Open Men's 470 title at the European championships in Portugal overnight (NZ time).

The pair went into the top-10 medal race in second, eight points behind Kevin Peponnet and Jeremie Mion and needing to finish at least four boats ahead of the the French combination. They managed to do that in the double points showdown, with Snow-Hansen and Willcox fourth and the French ninth in the light 5-8 knot sea breeze.

Spain's Jordi Xammar and Nicolas Rodriguez were third overall and multiple world champions and defending Olympic champions Mathew Belcher and Will Ryan of Australia fourth.

"Obviously we were in a pretty tight spot in second place [going into the race] and we were really just trying to execute what we thought would work on the day and really hoped that an opportunity would present itself," Snow-Hansen said. "We were pretty stoked when we went across the finish line and started to work out that we’d actually taken the title."

New Zealand has a proud history in the men's 470, and Willcox's father Hamish won three world titles with David Barnes in the 1980s, but no Kiwis had won the European championships since Simon Cooke and Peter Nicholas in 2000.

Cooke played a key role in this week's result, teaming up with youngster Andre Van Dam a couple of years ago to be training partners for Snow-Hansen and Willcox, and that association became even more important as the Kiwis were confined to New Zealand due to Covid-19.

The European championships was the first international regatta for Snow-Hansen and Willcox in 18 months and they didn't really know how they would go against the world's best combinations after so long in the wilderness.

"Because we had been out of the loop, we just came in here focusing on what we had learned in New Zealand," Snow-Hansen said. "We were just wanting to see how we measured up and we’re really excited with how we ended up going.

"For sure it’s a confidence booster for us [leading into the Olympics] but, at the same time, we have a bit of work to do. Our competition isn’t going to stop training now they are just ramping up into a nice European summer so we are going to have to keep the throttle down and try to build on this."

Snow-Hansen and Willcox sailed impressively across the six days, and were the only crew to finish in the top 10 in all 12 races in the 29-boat men's fleet. They showed good speed throughout the regatta and also made good decisions tactically in what was often treacherously shifty conditions in Vilamoura.

It was also a good way to potentially finish what has been a long journey for the pair, who first teamed up in 2013 and will soon go to their second Olympics together.

"It’s a cool way to wrap up our last event in Europe," Willcox said. "Most likely, this will be the last event in Europe for Snowy and I so to finish on a note like that and win a European title... is epic. Totally stoked."

Snow-Hansen and Willcox will soon head back to New Zealand and return to training with coach Geoff Woolley (following quarantine) before venturing to Japan in July. They will now know anything is possible.

It will also be a boost to the rest of the NZL Sailing Team and Josh Junior and Andy Maloney will tonight race in their first Olympic classes regatta in 18 months at the Finn Gold Cup (world championships) in Porto.

Results and standings after the final day of the 470 European Championships in Vilamoura, Portugal:
Men (29 boats)

1st: Paul Snow-Hansen / Dan Willcox (NZL) 1 (10) 6 7 1 4 4 3 8 8 5 8 - 55 points
2nd: Kevin Peponnet / Jeremie Mion (FRA) 9 9 1 4 (13) 2 2 1 5 4 2 18 - 57 pts
3rd: Jordi Xammar / Nicolas Rodriguez (ESP) 10 2 4 5 6 11 (12) 8 3 1 4 10 - 64 pts

Full results/a>

Related Articles

Australian Sailing celebrates Iain Murray
Iain Murray AM has many accomplishments on his resume Australian sailing legend Iain Murray AM has many accomplishments on his resume, but the man affectionately known as "Big Fella" can now add leading an Olympic campaign that netted two gold medals to it. Posted on 1 Oct
Paris 2024 : The Numbers Are In
The continual push towards data-driven performance analytics Each Olympic cycle brings something unique. Classes are introduced and discontinued, formats evolve and new stars arise through incredible dedication, hard work, and smarter training practices. Posted on 24 Sep
Mike Milner on Team Canada's sailing at Tokyo 2020
David Schmidt checks in with the team's high-performance director I checked in with Mike Milner, Sail Canada's high-performance director, via email, to debrief Team Canada's sailing performances at this summer's XXXII Olympiad and to discuss the team's course back to the Olympic sailing podium. Posted on 1 Sep
Tokyo2020 - Some historic images from Enoshima
For those still keen for an Olympic sailing fix, here's some new images from our photo library For those still keen for an Olympic sailing fix, here's some new images from Sail-World's photo library from Tokyo2020, plus a couple of short stories about the historical significance of the images and sailors. Posted on 1 Sep
Paris2024: Antipodean re-think required
Tokyo2020 proved to be a game of snakes and ladders for the 17 countries who divvied up 30 medals When the medal table was added up, Tokyo2020 proved to be the proverbial game of snakes and ladders for the 17 countries who divvied up the 30 medals. Nine European nations increased their medal haul from Rio. Oceania was the biggest loser. Posted on 31 Aug
Q&A Live Call with Hannah Mills
Sailing's most successful female Olympian With two gold medals and a silver from the past three Olympic Games, Hannah Mills' exploits in the 470 make her the most successful female Olympic sailor. Posted on 31 Aug
From Tokyo 2020 to the Rolex Fastnet Race
Sailing's superstars shine on the big stage What a couple of weeks we've had to enjoy sailing at its finest. The sailing at Tokyo 2020 has been at different times exciting, unpredictable and tense with some awe-inspiring performances by the stand-out sailors at the event. Posted on 9 Aug
Mat to carry flag into Tokyo 2020 Closing Ceremony
Mat Belcher will be Flag Bearer at the Closing Ceremony at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has announced that sailor Mat Belcher will be Flag Bearer at the Closing Ceremony at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games tomorrow night. Posted on 7 Aug
Tokyo2020: Medalists non committal on new Events
The final day of racing at Tokyo2020 Olympic Sailing Regatta, panned out much as expected. The final day of racing at Tokyo2020 panned out much as expected. After the two 470 Medal Races, there was only one change on the leaderboard, when the French Women's 470 crew dropped from being second overall to being Bronze medalist. Posted on 6 Aug
Tokyo2020: Kiwis miss Bronze medal by 2pts
Paul Snow-Hansen and Dan Willcox were hurting after missing out on a medal by a single place Finishing fourth at an Olympics Games is one of the hardest things for any competitor and Paul Snow-Hansen and Dan Willcox were hurting after missing out on a medal by the narrowest of margins today. Posted on 4 Aug
Selden 2020 - FOOTERCoast Guard Foundation FOOTER 1Rooster 2020 - Impact BA - FOOTER