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9 July 2011, 10:53 am
Van Acker and Stipanovic take European Laser Titles in Helsinki
Laser Radial Podium
The Laser Radial Podium in Helsinki, Finland

Open European Championship
Helsinki, Finland

Two more European titles were claimed in Helsinki on Friday yesterday by Evi Van Acker (BEL) in the Laser Radial and Croatia's Tonci Stipanovic in the Laser Standered
With the medal races taking place in perfect and sunny conditions it was China's Lijia Xu who was the overall winner, with the European Champion's title going to Evi Van acker. Croatia's Tina Mihelic took the silver and Spain's Alicia Cebrian the bronze.

"This was already my fourth time at the Championships, so it feels really good to win the title. The conditions were very challenging, but I'm satisfied with my performance", said the gold medallist.

"This certainly gave my confidence a big boost. Now it's the time to get ready for the pre-Olympics in London and the World Championships in Perth, with the Olympic Games being my primary goal".

Laser Standards' leader,Tonci Stipanovi? picked up from where he left off the previous day. The Croatian won the Medal Race, leaving no chance for Jonasz Stelmaszyk of Poland to catch him in the standings and finished second overall.

"I also won last year, but this time it feels a bit different, since I've had a lot of friends here to support me. I sailed well and did my best during the whole competition", said Stipanovic.

He looked very determined indeed, especially in the final start. He was punished for repeated fanning and thus had to make a 720-degree penalty turn, but still Stipanovic managed to top everyone else.

"We now have a tough race among the Croatian team for the places in the upcoming Olympic Games. The whole national team performed well here, hopefully I will be able to earn my spot in London", Stipanovic concluded.

Austria's Andreas Geritzer finished second in the Medal Race, which sealed his bronze medal. For the 49ers, sixty-five teams representing twenty-one countries from around the globe are in Helsinki to challenge for the Seiko European crown and sharpen their skills in the run into the 2012.

In the opening day of racing, with the fleet split onto two courses, Austrians Nico Delle - karth and Nikolaus Resch lead after three races, followed by Steven Thomas and Nicholas Brownie of Australia and Danes Peter Kruger Anderson and Nicolai Thorselll; only eight point separate the top five.

Multi World champion Nathan Outteridge from Australia who currently sits in fourth commented, "It's very shifty out there and we have to pay attention. On the inner course, we sailed all the way to the rocks before tacking" giving the spectators a thrill as they could practically touch the sailors. Outteridge and his crew Iain Jensen are tied with local Finnish sailors Lauri Lehtinen and kalle Bask.

Qualifying races continue tomorrow through Sunday followed by three more days of the final series culminating with the medal race to be held on 13 July.

The 470 and Finn classes will begin their Championships on Saturday. You can follow live tracking at www.openeuropeans2011.com, starting at 11 o'clock.
You can find official results and follow live tracking at www.openeuropeans2011.com
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