Brazil, Kiwis take 49er/49erFX Europeans
Published on May 19th, 2019
Weymouth, England (May 19, 2019) – The final day of the 49er and 49erFX European Championship ended with the Rio 2016 Olympic champions on the top step of the podium again.
49erFX: Brazil win, but Dutch survive pressure to win ticket to Tokyo
Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze won the Open European Championships as the Olympic Champions from Brazil were in a different class this week. The greater interest for the Medal Race was which of the chasing pack would succeed in taking the silver and bronze.
There were six teams in contention for the minor medals, but the team that needed to climb on to the podium more than any other were the reigning World Champions from the Netherlands, Annemieke Bekkering and Annette Duetz.
On the back foot of their country qualifiers for Tokyo 2020 after their Dutch rivals won the 2019 Hempel World Cup event in Genoa, Bekkering and Duetz needed to pull out all their experience and ability to withstand pressure as they lined up on the Medal Race start line.
The Dutch won the pin end of the line and cruised off towards the left-hand side in the soft, 6 knot breezes. They reached the windward mark in first place and looked set for a straightforward win until they were beaten to the final windward mark by the Norwegian crew, Helene Næss and Marie Rønningen.
The Norwegians held the lead on the last downwind leg and crossed the finish line ahead, sufficient to give the 2018 European Champions the bronze medal. The Dutch held their nerve to cross the line in second place, making them the European Champions (excluding the Brazilians) and earning them a place at next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo. Grinning from ear to ear, Bekkering and Duetz hugged each other in relief at their double victory.
Alex Maloney and Molly Meech of New Zealand finished fourth, one place ahead of the big discovery of the regatta, the 2018 Junior World Champions from Sweden who have flourished at senior level in all conditions this week. Vilma Bobeck and Malin Tengstrom were really fast in the strong wind but getting better by the race in the light winds.
The 49erFX fleet have enjoyed all kinds of sea state and wind conditions that has been a true all-round test, one that will linger long in the memory of Bekkering and Duetz in particular.
49er: The Kiwis do their work while Brits battle
The day began with one final Gold fleet race for the 49er Men, their 20th race of the week. After a short postponement, the fleet was off in a light Southwesterly in the inner harbour. GBR’s Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell, who’d moved up into 2nd on the penultimate day of racing, clearly wanted the pin at the start and the left-hand side (watch video).
The Brits were rewarded for their local knowledge with a top spot at the top mark while the other two podium teams, NZL’s Burling/Tuke and ESP’s Botin/Marra, were well deep at the top mark with plenty of work to do to catch up during the race to stay in medal contention.
Back in the pack, the kiwis were able to do their work, climbing steadily throughout the race from a deep 22nd (which would have put Fletcher/Bithell into the overall lead), all the way back to 9th by the finish line, staying on top of the overall podium.
Fletcher/Bithell won the race to maintain second overall, while last year’s World Championship bronze medallists, Germany’s Fisher/Graf, snagged a second second place in a row for the gold fleet racing, but it wasn’t enough to move them into the medal race, showing just how tight and close the racing this week has been.
A 5th place in this race for the other Brits Peters/Sterritt moved them into bronze position overall, as the Spaniards weren’t able to recover past 17th, and had to eat their previous throwout.
The battle was then set for a final medal race showdown between these four teams: the kiwis in the lead, followed by the two Brits, and the Spanish. As the last in the lineup for the medal races for the day though, it was not to be. They were sent out at 4pm but the breeze died to nothing and ultimately, the scores from the morning remained.
2016 Gold Medallists, NZL’s Pete Burling/Blair Tuke, shortly upon return to the class have thus won the 49er European championship and the Open European title, with GBR’s Fletcher/Bithell chomping at their heels in second place and the first Europeans, and Peters/Sterritt coming away with bronze.
The home country should be happy with their teams’ performance, and the battle is set for a good fight to see who wins British 49er Olympic selection.
The 2019 Volvo Europeans for the Olympic 49er and 49erFX Classes was on May 13 to 19 in Weymouth, England.
49erFX – Final Results (Top 5 of 57; 18 races, 2 discards)
1. BRA Martine Grael, Kahena Kunze 76
2. NED Annemiek Bekkering, Annette Duetz 79
3. NOR Helene Næss, Marie Rønningen 83
4. NZL Alex Maloney, Molly Meech 90
5. SWE Vilma Bobeck, Malin Tengstrom 93
49er – Final Results (Top 5 of 96; 20 races, 2 discards)
1. NZL Peter Burling, Blair Tuke 72
2. GBR Dylan Fletcher, Stu Bithell 81
3. GBR James Peters, Fynn Sterritt 94
4. ESP Diego Botin, Iago Marra 97
5. GER Eric Heil, Thomas Ploessel 123
North American Results:
Top ten or top position
49erFX: 10th Paris Henken/ Anna Tobias (USA)
49er: 24th Ian Barrows/ Mitchell Kiss (USA)
Competing from North America:
Canada: William Jones/ Evan DePaul
USA: Andrew Mollerus/ Ian MacDiarmid, Judge Ryan/ Hans Henken, Ian Barrows/ Mitchell Kiss, Nevin Snow/ Dane Wilson, Harry Melges/ Finn Rowe
Canada: Alexandra ten Hove/ Mariah Millen
USA: Stephanie Roble/ Maggie Shea, Paris Henken/ Anna Tobias
Monday 13 May – Qualifying Races
Tuesday 14 May – Qualifying Races
Wednesday 15 May – Qualifying Races
Thursday 16 May – Qualifying or Fleet Races
Friday 17 May – Fleet Races
Saturday 18 May – Fleet Races
Sunday 19 May – Fleet Races, Medal Races
Source: Port Tack Racing