Penultimate Day of 470 European Championships Decides Medal Race Contenders
Thursday was the day which decided the top 10 boats going through to each of the 470 Men and 470 Women Medal Races to determine the teams who will secure medals at the 2011 470 European Championships and prizes for the 2011 470 Open European Championships
One race 12 was held for each of the 470 Men Gold, 470 Men Silver and 470 Women fleets.
Perhaps local knowledge was what helped Finnish brothers Joonas Lindgren and Niklas Lindgren deliver a race win in the 470 Men Gold fleet and qualify through to the Medal Race. Eyes are now on this team to carry Finland's pride and become the top performing Finnish team of the entire Olympic Class European Championships. Whilst they are out of medal contention they can still move up the leaderboard by several places.
Job done for Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page (AUS) who have secured their victory as the 470 Open European Championships, despite their worst result of the series as they got buried in the fleet after a bad choice saw them take the left hand side of the track upwind to cross the line in 25th. The British team of Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell also headed this way, finished 27th in race 12 and have suffered the consequences, dropping from second overall to fourth going into the Medal Race. With the quality of this fleet and double points in the Medal Race, Patience/Bithell have got a big ask on their hands to be near the podium. Equal disappointment for Japan's Ryunosuke Harada and Yuugo Yoshida with a 29th in race 12 tumbling them down to ninth overall which puts an end to their progress towards the podium.
A frustrated Patience reflected, "We have thrown away some mega points in the results. I hope we are in a position where we can still win a medal."
Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic (CRO) also played a good race today and will now go into the Medal Race in second overall and with a pop at both the European and Open European podium places. Igor was pleased with their delivery, "It was quite a hard race. We had some difficulties on the start and then we managed to get clear wind quite early and decided to go right which was better, so it worked really well from the first upwind. We were then at the top of the fleet and so just sailed."
The British team of Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark flew around the race track to dominate throughout, take a win in race 12 and increase their chances of a medal position as they move on up to fourth overall.
However, it is still Spain's remarkable young team of Tara Pacheco and Berta Betanzos who lead the fleet and today sealed themselves the Gold or Silver Medal. "We have to keep going and doing well in the Medal Race tomorrow and just think about it", said Pacheco. The Spanish regularly train with the second placed Brazilian team Fernanda Oliveira and Ana Luiza Barbachan and Pacheco acknowledged her pleasure that both teams have done so well here in Helsinki, "Yeh, yeh - I think that tomorrow we will also train together before the start. We will see." Pacheco's plan for tonight is "a big hamburger!" and "maybe go to bed early."
The Danish team of Henriette Koch and Lene Sommer (DEN) stay firm in third overall and a finish of seventh of better tomorrow will see them at worse safely secure the bronze medal, but they are looking for higher places than that. Koch said, "If we sail well it is going to end up pretty good for us, so that is what we are going to focus on." On how they will relax tonight, Sommer smiled, "Watch some Tour de France on TV or maybe a church visit," before clarifying with a laugh, "but not to pray for our sailing, to be a tourist!"
The schedule for the final day of racing at the 2011 470 European Championships is a warning signal at 0955 hours for 470 Women Race 13 (excluding top 10), followed by 470 Men Gold (excluding top 10) and 470 Silver. The warning signal for the 470 Men Medal Race is scheduled for 1155 hours and for the 470 Women Medal Race at 1255 hours.
Medals will be awarded to the teams eligible for the 470 European Championships, with prizes also awarded to the top three boats in the 470 Open European Championships.