Photo: Skandia Team GBR

Last line-up before the Games

470 European Championships to be held at Largs

Monday February 6th 2012, Author: Luissa Smith, Location: United Kingdom

The 470 class heads for Scotland for one of the final showdowns prior to the 2012 Olympic Games.

The 470 European Championship 2012 will be hosted in Largs, Scotland over 25 June – 4 July. The event is set to attract in excess of 100 men/mixed and women’s 470 teams. Teams entered in London 2012 are expected to go straight from Scotland to represent their nations on the start line in Weymouth, just over a month later.

The Championship will be sailed over several race courses with the men/mixed and women fleets sailing separately. Racing gets underway on 28 June and boats will be seeded, based on their past performance, for the six race qualifying series into fleets of around 40 boats apiece. Teams will then be allocated to the gold and silver fleets for the final series, and after a further six scheduled races the top 10 teams from the gold fleet will make the cut to the final medal race show down on Wednesday 4 July 2012.

Local sailing star Luke Patience grew up on the waters off Largs, and will be representing Great Britain with crew Stuart Bithell in the 470 Men's event at the 2012 Olympics. Familiar with the conditions, Patience gives teams some top advice: “Largs is a diverse place to sail. Like Weymouth, it hosts all sorts of weather conditions and you can have anything thrown at you. The 470 Championship in Largs will crown a well-rounded sailor. We get all weather systems coming through from the Atlantic.” Patience summed up his homeland.

“Scotland is quite probably the most stunning country in the world. It is so vast in beauty and so small in size. There are few places in the world where one moment you are staring across the sea into the west with nothing between you and America, with a gorgeous sunset, and the next you are on the top of a mountain range looking at the most stunning of views in complete and utter wilderness and silence." Patience and Bithell secured the silver medal at the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships and bronze medal at the 2011 470 European Championships.

Defending European Champions Sime Fantela/Igor Marenic of Croatia have already qualified to the Olympics Games, and are planning to be in Scotland to defend their title. The 2011 Open European and World Champions, Mat Belcher/Malcolm Page from Australia are also planning to be in Largs.

Tara Pacheco/Berta Betanzos from Spain, who won the 2011 470 Women’s European Championship in July last year, and then wrapped up their season by winning the 470 Women’s World Championship title in December 2011. They have also confirmed they will be on the start line in Largs, before heading back to Weymouth for the Olympic Sailing Competition.

As well as attracting the cream of Olympic sailors and aspirants, the Championship will also provide a great opportunity for local race officials and volunteers to get involved in a world class event. Around 80 volunteers from the host club and surrounding area are expected to be supporting the Championship, some of whom will then transfer their expertise to volunteer at the 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition.

Racing will take place in the Largs/Cumbrae channel, between the mainland and the Isle of Cumbraeas well as North of the island, which is home to some of the most stunning scenery in Scotland.

Shoreside, the Championship Opening Ceremony on Wednesday 27 June will welcome and entertain the teams with the traditional local pipe band, and throughout the Championship sailors will enjoy the lively seaside town of Largs, which is steeped in history and offers great Scottish hospitality.

The 470 European Championship 2012 is being hosted by the Royal Yachting Association and supported through a partnership of UK Sport, EventScotland (the national events agency) North Ayrshire Council, the Scottish Sailing Institute, sportscotland and the International 470 Class Association.

Esther Nicholls, Head of Major Events for UK Sport, the nation’s high performance sports agency, which recently helped secure the 2015 World Gymnastics Championships to be staged in Glasgow’s Kelvin Hall, said: “The 470 European Championships in Largs will be the final event to take place within UK Sport’s lead-in programme to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. This will have seen more than 100 events in 40 different sports staged in the UK, giving our athletes and officials an excellent opportunity to prepare for the unique experience of international competition on home soil.

“Our National Lottery funded World Class Events Programme, over the five years between 2007 and 2012, has seen Scotland host 11 events, including five World Championships, attracting more than 180,000 spectators and generating an estimated £9.8 million in economic impact for the country, as well as fantastic opportunities to prepare for Glasgow 2014.”


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