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15 May 2004, 06:39 pm
Black Flag Makes Mateusz' Day
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Finn European Championship And Olympic Qualification Regatta
La Rochelle

When the Black Flag came up on the second start of the last race, it penalized 11 sailors. The third start under the Black rule was going to take a toll among Mateusz <A href=/bio.html#POLMK1><B>KUSZNIEREWICZ </A></B>opponents for the Championship title.
The current was pushing the sailors towards the crowded pin end of the line. Ben AINSLIE, Sebastien GODEFROID, Emilios PAPATHANASIOU, Ali Enver ADAKAN, and Gasper VINCEC took an aggressive start despite the risk of disqualification with the Black Flag flying.

At the top mark, their names were on the race committee black board, forcing them to leave the race, scoring a disqualification on the last race of the event. "It was such a relief, I could sail my own race." declared Mateusz. "My only worry was the down wind legs. I had to restrain myself from moving. I have never been so still in the boat, but I couldn't afford a third penalty." Mateusz, who had to retire from race five after receiving two penalities for rule 42 infingements would have to retire from the whole regatta if he received a third one.

The championship was in the bag for the Polish personality, who went on to win the last race. With the second and third placed boats out of contention, Guillaume FLORENT, , fourth before the last race had to place in the top eight to take second overall or better than 30 to place third.

The French sailor was looking good in the top five before the last beat, but chose to go right on the last upwind leg. He finished the race in thirteenth place, taking Bronze, leaving the Silver to Ben AINSLIE. Dean Barker finishing fourth in his first European Championship in front of Sebastien GODEFROID, has sewn up the New Zealand Olympic Nomination trials and subject to Ratification, will attend his first Olympic Games in the Class in Athens in 2004.

The five countries who have qualified for the Olympic regatta are (subject to ISAF ratification): Argentina (Alejandro COLLA 28th), Russia (Vladimir KRUTSKIKH, 29th), Hungary (Balazs HAJDU, 33rd), Austria (Florian RAUDASCHL, 36th), Italy (Michele MARCHESINI, 39th).

For the Prize Giving Ceremony, the Yacht Club invited all the famous French Finn sailors of all time to come and congratulate the World's best. Among them, Serge MAURY, Olympic Champion in Kiel in 1972, Didier POISSANT, Olympic Games representative in 1956 in Melbourne, Yves-Louis PINAUD, 1960 in Roma, Gerard de VILLARD, Tokyo in 1964, Philippe SORIA in Mexico in 1968.

Full results are available on the event website at the address below.

Event Media (As Amended By ISAF News Editor)
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