Still qualifying

One race was held for the men and women's divisions at the 470 Europeans

Thursday June 11th 2009, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom
Today should have been the last day of the qualifying series at the 470 European Championships in Lake Traunsee, Austria, but the weather conditions have not been conducive to competing the schedule of either the men's or women's events. Both men's groups completed one race today, and so did the women's fleet. Croatia's Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic retain their overall lead but gave away their 'discard reserve”' with a 22nd place in today's only race. Italians Giulia Conti and Giovanna Micol had a bad start, climbed back, but maintained their lead posting a fifth place at the finish.

Men's 470

Although the Croatias still lead the men's 470, Harada Ryunosuko and Yoshida Yugo from Japan did a remarkably good job today. Their record in international 470 sailing goes back to the 2007 ISAF Sailing World Championships where they just made it into the Gold fleet. At the Semaine Olympique Francaise in Hyères this year, they had their first success in a major internaitonal event and finishing 5th overall, while at the Delta Lloyd Regatta they made it into the medal race. Today, they win race 5 in their group and now hold a promising second place overall.

In the other group it was the turn of Italians Gabrio Zandona and Eduardo Mancinelli to win today's race climbing to 7th overall position.

Australians Matthew Belcher and Malcolm Page are moving up slowly. Coached by the legendary Victor Kovalenko, they scored a second place in today's race. Page is defending European champion having won this event last year with his former helm Nathan Wilmot, prior to taking gold at the Games last year.

Meanwhile Croatians Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic have been highly successful in the 470 Juniors, winning the 470 Junior Worlds in both 2005 and 2007. Exciting battles have taken place with other talented Juniors such as the Israelis Levin Eyal and Yam Amir, who won the Junior Worlds in 2006. Meanwhile the Croatias won the medal race at the 2007 ISAF Sailing World Championships (finishing sixth overall), and made their Olympic debut in Qingdao 2008, where they ended up ninth overall.

”The conditions are extremely difficult," said Sime Fantela of today's racing. "The last two days we were lucky with our decisions. Today we decided to sail on the right side of the course, what turned out to be the complete wrong side. We now have to stay calm and concentrated. When we start sailing the gold fleet, it's more difficult to have good results. Everybody makes mistakes and all teams in the top ten are still able to win the championship. We will see, but we still are full of hope!”

Women's 470

The Netherland's Margriet Fokkema and Marieke Jongens scored the bullet in today's only race, successfully concluding a close battle with Qingdao 2008 Yngling class silver medallists and Dutch team mates Mandy Mulder and Merel Witteveen. Fokkema and Jongens seem to like light winds and have moved up to a ninth position overall.

Still it's Conti/Micol, and Japan's Ai Kondo and Wakoko Tabata who are leading the charge in the Women's event. The rivals scored a reasonable 5th and average 14th place respectively, and have yet to shake New Zealand's Jo Aleh amd Olivia Powrie, and Greece's Anthi Economou and Olga Tsigaridi off their tails yet.

Nevertheless, it could have been worse for the Italian women. Conti and Micol made a bad start in the race, but recovered perfectly.

“We are close to the half of the event, before we come to the medal race," said Conti. "On this lake you can never be sure about your final rank, before you here the signal of the finishing boat. The wind is very puffy and shifty. If you miss a shift, you can lose up to 20 places. This Championship is about who makes less mistakes then the others. We were the team so far with less wrong decisions. We have tried to use our lake experience from Lake Garda, and so far it worked.”

Racing continues tomorrow to complete the qualifiers, which should have been finished today. The 470 men will go out on the water, if possible, to have one race, and get back ashore to have results calculated and any protests handled. If the wind conditions allow it, the men's fleet will then go out again to start the final series, separated into gold and silver fleets.

For the Open 470 European Women's event, it will probably be easier as no calculations have to made, and the same group of 39 crews will continue from the qualifiers into the final series.

The medal races for both classes will take place on 14 June.

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