470 Europeans: Olympic Medallists, World Champions and World Sailors-of-the-Year Control Race Day 1
Published on July 10th, 2014
Athens, Greece (July 10, 2014) – Racing at the 2014 470 European Championships got underway on the waters of the Saronic Gulf, Greece. Mat Belcher/Will Ryan (AUS) and Jo Aleh/Polly Powrie (NZL) take an early advantage at the 470 Europeans. But only just, as both event leaders are on equal points with the second placed teams behind them.
The 2014 470 Open European Championships has attracted the world’s top 470 sailors with 73 teams in the Men and 51 in the women representing a total of 31 nations from every continent.
The fleet headed out to the race track in a breeze of around 12 knots, which disappeared as the wind swung round, forcing the postponement flag up and the teams back ashore. Water and shade were a welcome respite ashore as the temperature hit around 33 degrees and rehydration a priority.
As the wind stabilized, the teams were back out on the race track and complete the 3 scheduled races for the men and 2 for the women.
In the line-sup of the seventy-three 470 men fleet are all the top 20 world ranked teams, including Olympic Champions, World Championship medallists and reigning European and Open European Championships.
Most teams have been here for several days acclimatizing and getting to know the unpredictable conditions which the Saronic gulf can serve up. The seventy-three teams are racing in two fleets, blue and yellow, and re-seeded each day for the 5 race qualification series. After which they will advance to gold and silver fleets for the 6 race final series, from which the top 10 teams progress through to the final double-points Medal Race on Tuesday 15 July.
Race Day 1 was one of those tricky days with big shifts and hunting out the pressure was key. The 470 Europeans is the first major Championship since last year’s 470 Worlds in France to bring all the fleet back together to measure up against each other.
2012 Olympic Champion Mat Belcher has claimed all the major titles, and last year with crew Will Ryan were both 470 Open European Champions and 470 World Champions. Unsurprisingly, the pair took a solid start from the opening three races with a scoreline of 3,6,1 to end the day headlining the leaderboard. Only just though, as they carry equal points to Finland’s Joonas Lindgren/Niklas Lindgren, with the Australian’s win in race 3 giving them the tiebreak advantage.
“This year it has been a little bit just trying to balance the team, with the America’s Cup campaign and being a dad. We have just done a foiling camp on a GC32 less than a week ago which cut down our preparations for the Europeans a bit. But we are in pretty good shape and just looking forward to racing and seeing where we are against the rest of the fleet. “
Up until the end of 2013, Belcher held a seriously impressive 18 back to back event wins, but so far the Aussie pair haven’t had 2014 all their own way, with a 3rd at ISAF Sailing World Cup Mallorca and 2nd at ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami, in amongst their winning scorecard. Victory at those two events went to Sime Fantela/Igor Marenic (CRO) and Sofian Bouvet/Jeremie Mion (FRA) respectively.
With the rest of the fleet edging closer and more than capable of trouncing the Aussies, Belcher is even more proud of the team’s achievements over the past few years.
“I think for Will and I, Victor and our team, it really highlighted what we actually achieved over those 18 wins, how hard we worked to be able to do that, the level of preparation we put in and the level of sailing we are able to achieve which was a fantastic step for us. It was nice to be rewarded as well,” said Belcher, referring to being awarded the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award in November 2014.
“It is what I love about this class and why I have been in it for 15 years,” explained Belcher. “I love the level of competition and diversity. We will have 10 nations in the top 10. It is not just this Championship or the last Championship, but has been like that for 15 years and you have to be at the top of the game.”
“It is difficult, as with any Olympic competition you need to make choices, you need to make sacrifices and you have to follow what you believe in your own preparations. For us, I made that choice from an America’s Cup point and from a family point and we are working hard. Certainly, we have to make a lot more compromises than we would have liked but we are pretty aware of where we are in the Olympic cycle, and feel pretty comfortable where we are and can balance it coming into Rio. That is what our goal is.”
Some real up and down results across the two fleets. Greek heroes Panagotis Mantis/Pavlos Kagialis opened their Championship in style by winning the opening race in the blue fleet, but followed up with an 18,10 to sit in 14th overall. A similar contrast in results for Sweden’s Anton Dahlberg/Fredrik Bergstrom who won race 1 in the yellow fleet, but countered with scores of 29,18 to end the day in 31st.
Two races are scheduled for the 470 Men on Friday 11 July.
470 Men – Top 10 after 3 Races
1. Mathew Belcher/Will Ryan (AUS) – 10 pts
2. Joonas Lindgren/Niklas Lindgren (FIN) – 10 pts
3. Onan Barreiros/Juan Curbelo (ESP) – 15 pts
4. Carl-Fredrik Fock/Marcus Dackhammar (SWE) – 17 pts
5. Lucas Calabrese/Juan De La Fuente (ARG) – 18 pts
6. Pierre Leboucher/Nicolas Le Berre (FRA) – 20 pts
7. Panagiotis Kampouridis/Efstathios Papadopoulos (GRE) – 20 pts
8. Luke Patience/Elliot Willis (GBR) – 20 pts
9. David Bargehr/Lukas Mähr (AUT) – 23 pts
10. Sime Fantela/Igor Marenic (CRO) – 23 pts
The fifty-one 470 women teams are racing as one fleet through until the Medal Race, when only the top 10 compete. Two races on the opening day were an early indicator of likely performance over the next 5 days of racing. The depth of talent is immense in the teams who represent twenty-four nations, and already the global performance of the fleet is demonstrated with eight nations in the top 10 after day 1.
Reigning Olympic Champions, World Champions and 2013 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year winners Jo Aleh/Polly Powrie (NZL) are matched on points with Olympic silver medallists Hannah Mills/Saskia Clark (GBR) after day 1, to sit in first and second on the leaderboard, with Austria’s Lara Vadlau/Jola Ogar in third. None of these teams took race wins, just solid keeper results.
The Kiwis arrived 10 days ahead of racing to acclimatize and recover from jet lag.
“It is pretty different to what we have come from at home where it is the middle of winter and windy and freezing,” said Aleh. “So it is a bit of a shock to come here and took us a few more days to acclimatize than we thought and we were hammered for the first few days. I have never raced here before, but it is awesome sailing out there and being able to sail in a rash top is beautiful. The warmth is fantastic although we would like a bit more breeze. The breeze is quite soft so if it is just 6-10 knots it is going to be hard work.”
America’s world ranked #4 pairing of Anne Haeger/Briana Provancha took the win in race 1 with the Maelenn Lemaitre/Aloise Retornaz (FRA) securing victory in race 2. A really strong show of performance from the French, who last week wrapped up the Junior 470 Championship title.
Two races are scheduled for the 470 Women on Friday 11 July.
470 Women – Top 10 after 2 Races
1. Jo Aleh/Polly Powrie (NZL) – 8 pts
2. Hannah Mills/Saskia Clark (GBR) – 8 pts
3. Lara Vadlau/Jolanta Ogar (AUT) – 12 pts
4. Fernanda Oliveira/Ana Barbachan (BRA)- 13 pts
5. Anne Haeger/Briana Provancha (USA) – 15 pts
6. Sophie Weguelin/Eilidh Mcintyre (GBR) – 16 pts
7. Roberta Caputo/Alice Sinno (ITA) – 17 pts
8. Amy Seabright/Anna Carpenter (GBR) – 20 pts
9. Alisa Kirilyuk/Liudmila Dmitrieva (RUS) – 21 pts
10. Afrodite Kyranakou/Anneloes Van Veen (NED) – 22 pts
U.S. Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider athlete David Hughes (pictured with teammate Stu McNay) reported, “Three races today to open the series. Two good, one bad. Super streaky and shifty. Real shoots-and-ladders type stuff. In the end, we walked away with two single digit scores, which means there’s much more to play for tomorrow. With split fleets and the drop kicking in, it’s wide open.”
Follow all the racing news at the Europeans.470.org
Video Highlights – Introducing some of the Teams
Facebook Photo Gallery – 10 July