Brits, Austrians take 470 European titles

Published on July 15th, 2014

Athens, Greece (July 15, 2014) – The final double-points Medal Race wrapped up racing to decide the podium line-up today for the 2014 470 European Championship and Open European Championship titles. Mathew Belcher/Will Ryan (AUS) won the men’s division overall, with second place Luke Patience/Elliot Willis (GBR) earning the European title. Austrian Lara Vadlau/Jolanta Ogar won both the Overall and European titles. Top North American teams came from the USA with Anne Haeger/Briana Provancha in 4th and Stuart McNay/David Hughes in 8th. Details.

Full report…

The wind filled in on Medal Race day at the 2014 470 Open European Championships with a shifty offshore breeze of around 15 knots funnelling onto the race track for the 470 Women Race, before easing off for the 470 Men.

Top performing nations across the two fleets are Austria and Great Britain who stepped onto the podium in both the 470 Men and 470 Women events. Austria’s sailing success once again put the land-locked nation on the map with 470 Women European Championship gold and 470 Men European Championship silver, and Great Britain who secured gold in the 470 Men Europeans and silver in the 470 Women.

Raced as a 470 Open European Championships, medals are awarded to the top three European nations, with the Open European Championship title open to all nations and the top teams presented with trophies.

The 2014 470 Open European Championships has hosted 248 sailors from 31 nations over the 6 days of competition. The Championship is the first time all the world’s top 470 sailors have been on the same race track since last year’s 470 World Championships. A real mix of challenging racing has given the opportunity for teams to check in on each other’s performance as the season now unfolds to the ISAF Worlds in September.

470 MEN
Luke Patience/Elliot Willis (GBR) claimed 470 Men European Championship gold the day before, so their only focus in the25 minute windward/leeward Medal Race was to put sufficient boats between them and the overall Championship leaders Mat Belcher/Will Ryan (AUS) to try and claim the 470 Men Open European Championship too.

But, the 11 point deficit to Belcher/Ryan proved too much, and with the Australians covering the British in the latter stage of the race and restricting their lane options, it was game over to secure Open European Championship glory too.

Third time for Mat Belcher to win the 470 Open European Championship title; once with Malcolm Page in 2011 and in 2013 and 2014 with Will Ryan.

Austria’s Matthias Schmid/Florian Reichstaedter went in to the Medal Race as the underdogs in the three-way challenge for European Championship silver and bronze medals. The pair, sitting in fifth on the leader board, could have got themselves caught up covering rival Finnish and Croatian teams, but the points deficit meant they had to get ahead and put boats between them. It doesn’t get better than a race win in the Medal Race, and the Austrians did it with such authority and an advantage of almost half the final leg to the finish in an inspirational performance to secure them the silver medal.

“I just don’t get it now, still not,” commented Reichstaedter on the team’s silver medal success. “But it comes slowly and slowly. It is an amazing feeling and is the best regatta we have sailed until now. We had a really tough last month working really hard on our technique and boat stuff and we really managed to show our strengths and the opportunities we have. It is a great day for Austria.”

Reflecting on their approach to the race, Reichstaedter explained, “Our plan was not to sail on somebody, but just to sail our own race as best we could. Especially in these tricky conditions where the gust came so fast, left side right side, and with wind shifts all over the place. So we tried to always be in a shift and in a gust and just look for the wind and not the opponent. This was in the end a good tactic.”

Their Silver medal marks the best performance so far of their thirteen year partnership in the 470 Class. “We love to sail the 470 and for Austrians to become really good at sailing takes a bit longer sometimes, compared to people who grow up on the sea,” commented Schmid. “I think our success is that we work really well together and have a lot of fun in what we do. Now we are really, really happy to get a medal.”

With the Austrians safe at the front, the challenge for bronze was between Joonas Lindgren/Niklas Lindgren (FIN) and Sime Fantela/Igor Marenic (CRO). The Finnish went into the Medal Race with a four point advantage over the Croatians, so conservative sailing and covering Fantela/Marenic would have the bronze wrapped up.

The race didn’t start well for the Croatians, who were too early off the line and turned back to restart. A struggle in the first upwind found the Finnish in last place by the first mark and the bronze now in the hands of the Croatians. The Finnish team dug deep and as they came to the windward mark for the second time, were up into fifth overall, putting themselves on equal overall points with the Croatians. However, the Croatians would still secure bronze on tiebreak advantage, so just one more boat between them was required. This proved impossible for the Finnish brothers, as leaving nothing to chance Fantela/Marenic upped their game and moved further ahead in the fleet to finish in 3rd and seal the bronze medal, whilst the Finnish pair lost momentum and dropped back to cross the line in 7th place and fall off the podium.

470 Men – Top 10 Overall
1. Mathew Belcher/Will Ryan (AUS) – 38 pts
2. Luke Patience/Elliot Willis (GBR) – 53 pts
3. Matthias Schmid/Florian Reichstaedter (AUT) –71 pts
4. Sime Fantela/Igor Marenic (CRO) – 73 pts
5. Joonas Lindgren/Niklas Lindgren (FIN) – 77 pts
6. Panagiotis Mantis/Pavlos Kagialis (GRE) – 90 pts
7. Lucas Calabrese/Juan de la Fuente (ARG) – 91 pts
8. Stuart McNay/David Hughes (USA) – 95 pts
9. Panagiotis Kampouridis/Efstathios Papadopoulos (GRE) – 105 pts
10. Onan Barreiros/Juan Curbelo (ESP) – 114 pts

The 470 Women Medal Race got underway first at 1400 hours. The funnelling effect of the breeze coming off the land and onto the track meant teams had to clearly go left or right, not up the middle. The left side paid, with the Dutch pair of Afrodite Kyranakou/Anneloes Van Veen up at the windward mark with a massive lead, and went on to take out their first ever medal race win on a lead of around one minute over the pack.

The Austrians and British were already guaranteed gold and silver medals for the 470 Women European Championships, with just the colours to be sorted between them, leaving Tina Mrak/Veronika Macarol (SLO), Sophie Weguelin/Eilidh McIntyre (GBR) and Camille Lecointre/Helene Defrance (FRA) all in contention for the bronze medal.

In the 470 Women Open European Championship, the top three teams from Austria, New Zealand and Great Britain, were all guaranteed to finish on the podium, with just the order to be sorted.

The Austrian’s massive points advantage had them fairly safe to secure both the European and Open European crowns, despite being in 7th place at the first windward mark. Ahead of them, the Kiwis were in 5th and Great Britain’s Mills/Clark in 6th, putting the Open Europeans second place to the Aleh/Powrie. But all change at the downwind turning gate as disaster struck for Aleh/Powrie,as the pair put in two fast gybes to avoid a collision with Russia’s Alisa Kirilyuk/Liudmila Dmitrieva and capsized. With the spinnaker twisted around the forestay, valuable minutes were spent unravelling themselves, by which time the rest of the fleet were well away and uncatchable, leaving the Kiwis to trail to finish the Medal Race in last place. Even Olympic Gold medallists make stuff ups sometimes, that is the sport, and the pair third overall on the Open European Championship podium.

“Coming into the bottom mark, we had a bit of a whoops,” explained Aleh. “We had to do two gybes to avoid a boat and stuffed up the second one pretty badly, dug it in and did a slow capsize that we couldn’t seem to get back from. It took 3 or 4 minutes of Polly up on the bow untangling it. We then had to go back around the mark and by then it was all over.”

“I don’t know if you could get much worse than that,” smilled Powrie. “Sometimes it just happens. We have had a pretty tough week and probably haven’t sailed to our potential this week. A lot of mistakes all week. Hats off to the Austrians and British, who have sailed really well all week.”

Aleh added, “I just think the Austrians sailed really well and have been so consistent. It is great to see them come back so strong after injury. It is going to be all on for the Worlds.”

A fantastic result for Austria’s Lara Vadlau/Jola Ogar who claim their first ever 470 Championship title.

“I just feel sensational right now,” commented Vadlau on winning both the European and Open European titles. Vadlau has trodden an upwards path since the 2012 Olympic Games, where she finished at the back of the fleet and now just two years later is beating the 2012 Olympic gold and silver medallists.

Explaining their approach to the race, Vadlau explained, “We were just starting and then we left the Brits on the left side. We went to the right, they went to the left and when we crossed they were one boat in front of us. But luckily four boats were also in front of them, so we just kept going. Then in the second upwind we finally managed to sail and just kept our eye on her. There was one shift they didn’t use and we did and we were then in front of them and we then didn’t let them out.”

“It is really hard to keep yourself calm,” reflected Ogar. “We made so many mistakes in the medal race, like never before. I think we were just over excited. We thought we were calm, but we were really rushed. But this is the Medal Race, it is a really short course, really stressful and everything is on the edge. Now we see we must practice this medal race to be really calm. If you are calm and have a better view than everybody, then you can win.”

The 470 Women European Championship bronze medal to Slovenia’s Tina Mrak/Veronika Macarol marks a career best

“We didn’t start really well in the first days of the Championship with bad starts,” said Macarol. “Then we sailed better and today in the Medal Race it was really difficult because the wind was really shifty off the land. We did a bad start but wanted to be near the British and French.”

470 Women – Top 10 Overall

1. Lara Vadlau/Jolanta Ogar (AUT) – 45 pts
2. Hannah Mills/Saskia Clark (GBR) – 58 pts
3. Jo Aleh/Polly Powrie (NZL) – 62 pts
4. Anne Haeger/Briana Provancha (USA) – 72 pts
5. Tina Mrak/Veronika Macarol (SLO) – 87 pts
6. Fernanda Oliveira/Ana Barbachan (BRA) – 88 pts
7. Camille Lecointre/Helene Defrance (FRA) – 92 pts
8. Afrodite Kyranakou/Anneloes Van Veen (NED) – 93 pts
9. Sophie Weguelin/Eilidh Mcintyre (GBR) – 100 pts
10. Alisa Kirilyuk/Liudmila Dmitrieva (RUS) – 125 pts

Many of the teams are now heading off to Brazil for the Aquece Rio International Sailing Regatta 2014, which is the first Test Event for Rio 2016. Next stop on the event calendar will be the Santander 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships, 8-21 September 2014, where 50% of the nation qualification places to the 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition will be awarded.

The 2015 470 Open European Championships will take place in Aarhus, Denmark during the end of June/early July.

Additional details.

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