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8 June 2011, 12:06 pm
Spectacular Racing And Close Competition As Netherlands 420 Teams Decided At Dutch 420 Nationals
Floris and Laurens van de Werken
Dutch 420 ISAF Youth Worlds Sailors Floris and Laurens van de Werken

Dutch 420 Nationals
Friesland, the Netherlands

The Dutch 420 National Championship was held over four days at the Dutch Youth Regatta on the Ijsselmeer, off Workum in Friesland, the Netherlands. 43 boats competed with additional teams from France, Germany, Japan, as well as greater entries this year from Austria and Switzerland.
This event, with its impressive start-lines, is increasingly being used for early summer international competition, as well, for some, as part of their preparation for the ISAF Youth Worlds.

On the first day racing started in a light north western breeze (7-10 knots). Reigning ISAF Youth Worlds Ladies' Champions, and last year's winners of this very event, Linda Farhni and Maja Siegenthaler of Switzerland led at the first mark, without really being challenged by any other competitors, to win the race. The Japanese ladies' team, Kiara Tsunoda and Ayano Furuya, also recently seen internationally at the World Championships in Buenos Aires, sailed a very steady race and took second. After some clever tactical decisions, in particular in the second upwind beat, the Dutch team Pieter Thomas Goedhart and Lars van Stekelenborg finished third. The wind increased in the second race and, due to a shift at the start, the teams near the starting vessel had quite some advantage, some of the top teams having to accept first mark roundings in the middle of the fleet. Floris and Laurens van de Werken (NED) had a very good start, managed to take advantage of the shift and were first at the upwind mark. They were able to increase the distance between them and the Japanese team, which again took the windward mark in second. The Swiss team, Farhni and Siegenthaler, managed to improve their position during the race and finished second.

Day 2, Race 3, started with a north easterly wind of 12 knots and sunny weather. The start was very important as the shifts to the windward mark were small. The Dutch teams were sailing in front, with Floris and Laurens van de Werken taking the lead and winning the race. Goedhart and Stekelenborg were close, with very good boat speed, while Fahrni and Siegenthaler were third.

During the day, the wind increased to 16 to 18 knots, with choppy waves and beautiful sunshine. Racing was very spectacular with nice spinnaker reaches and fast downwind courses. In races 4 and 5, Floris and Laurens van de Werken dominated the fleet, finishing the day with three bullets. They thus established a solid basis for their campaign to win the Dutch ISAF selection for boys and, indeed, the Championship. Ladies teams, Farhni and Siegenthaler and Fieke van Dijk and Josca Hummel, were sailing well and retained their positions in the top five. The Belgian team, Quinten Lootens and Stijn Van Hoye took third in race four.

Saturday dawned a beautiful day for racing, with very steady wind in Race 6, in which teams with good boat speed and a good start managed to get in front of the fleet and could sail the course without losing position. Bart van de Hondel and Jasper Kleijweg (NED) won the race. In race 7, the wind became much more unstable and the beat to the windward mark was very difficult, with a strong shift at the end, favouring the boats on the left side of the track. Belgian team, Lootens and van Hoye took advantage of the situation, together with Farhni and Siegenthaler. Only Floris and Laurens van de Werken were able to sail to the front of the fleet by showing a super performance downwind, using the waves to narrow the distance between them and the leaders. In the end, they managed to gain the first position. Goedhart and Stekelenborg were still close to the van de Werkens, and Race 8 had to be the decider for the selection of the Dutch boys team for the ISAFs (the selection was to be determined at the close of racing on the Saturday). As Fieke van Dijk and Josca Hummel had again achieved good results, they could no longer be beaten to the girls' nomination.

Race 8 was quite exciting, and saw a very sportive battle between Pieter and Lars and the Van de Werken brothers. Although in the beginning of the race they were still close, it was again the downwind boat speed of the brothers which decided the selection. Linda and Maja had a super first beat, once more taking advantage of wind shifts, particularly sailing to the left side of the course, and they won what was to prove to be the last race of the Championship, as well as the first. With thunderstorms and bad weather on the Sunday morning, the Race Committee decided to abandon further racing.

On the Saturday evening, the teams to represent the Netherlands at the 2011 ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships in Zadar, Croatia were announced. As anticipated, Floris and Laurens van de Werken are to be the boys and Fieke van Dijk and Josca Hummel, the girls team.

The brothers, Floris and Laurens van de Werken were declared the 2011 National Champions, and winners of the open competition, at the Prize Giving. Pieter Goedhart & Lars van Stekelenborg (NED) took the silver step on the podium, and the Swiss team, Linda Fahrni & Maja Siegenthaler, the Bronze, being the leading women's team at the Championship.

Reflecting on a terrific turnout for this year's regatta and the great sailing, with the Ijsselmeer providing a range of testing conditions for the eight races over three days, the Dutch Class President, Evert Jan van Garderen, said, "We thank all the foreign participants for travelling to Workum!!! We hope to welcome many sailors from abroad again next year to have a fleet of maybe even 50 boats for some excellent sailing on the Ijsselmeer".
Evert Jan van Garderen / Tony Mapplebeck
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