The Inaugural Access Class European Championships have been concluded in Port Camargue, France with nine races completed for the Access 2.3, 303, Liberty and SKUD 18.
Societe Nautique du Gran Du Roi Port Camargue (SNGRPC) were the host club and organising authority for the event in conjunction with the French Access Class Association.
Day One - September 10
After a practice session and opening ceremony on Wednesday, racing commenced on a beautiful sunny morning today. Principal Race Officer Serge Rouanne (FRA) held the fleet ashore until a 6 knot south westerly had filled in.
Race one was sailed in a steady 7-8 knots, and the SKUD 18 immediately showed its pace, leading out the mixed Neo495 and Liberty fleet.
The Liberty class was closely contested by Barry Coates (AUS) who was runner up in the Liberty Worlds this January, and experienced Mini G sailor Magali Moraines (FRA). Moraines won the initial heat with Coates close behind. As the wind increased to 10-15 knots for the subsequent races, Coates turned the tables and lead around the course, but Moraines was ready to capitalize on any mistakes. Vera Voorbach (NED sailed consistently to pick up a third in each race.
In the 2.3s, Bruno Pereira (POR) took the win from Jasper Smit (NED) and Monique Foster (GBR) third in the first race. In the two subsequent heats, it was Foster who handled the stronger breezes best, with Pereira coming in second.
The current 303 two-person World Champions, Zoltan Pegan & Eva Mircsev (HUN), were beaten in the first two races by the fast local entry helmed by Uggo Busicchia (FRA). In the stronger conditions, with sails partially reefed to suit the stronger conditions, Pegan and Mirczev steadied to take the win while Busicchia and Guilvic dropped down the fleet.
Day Two - September 11
Another sunny day brought a fresh offshore breeze that was gradually moderating. Racing commenced in 8 knots of wind but the strength diminished as the land warmed. The full windward-leeward course of two or three laps was completed by the majority of boats before the breeze died out completely and the race officer sent the competitors ashore. Two hours later, racing was back on in a 6 knot sea breeze. Unfortunately the wind did not stay for long and despite the shortened course, several boats did not finish within the time limit. It was a frustrating day for the race officer and competitors at the back of the fleet, but still good tight racing at the front in the challenging conditions.
In the Liberty division, both Magali Moraines (FRA) and Barry Coates (AUS) won heats to keep their battle close. In the 303s, Maria Kele & Miklos Szoke (HUN) took the first race, but fellow Hungarians Zoltan Pegan & Eva Mircsev won the second to secure their place at the top of the table. In the 2.3s, Bruno Pereira (POR) won both heats to take over the lead from Monique Foster (GBR).
Day Three - September 12
The offshore breeze was again steady in the morning, providing good racing starting in 12 knots reducing to 6 knots with flat water. As the wind died, the fleet was ashore by 12.30 but when the sea breeze filled in, racing was back on by 3.30 with a steady 7-9 knots holding for the afternoon's two races.
Bruno Pereira (POR) dominated the Access 2.3's winning all three heats, while Zoltan Pegan & Eva Micsev (HUN) struggled to maintain their position in the 303 two person with 4, 5, 2 placings. In the Liberty, Magali Maraines (FRA) won three straight to take over control Barry Coates (AUS).
Final Day - September 13
Only one race was completed today in an offshore breeze of 8-9 knots, enabling the sailors to get ashore early and pack up ahead of presentations.
In the Liberty class, Barry Coates (AUS) finished ahead of Magali Maraines (FRA), but it was not enough to claim the trophy. Zoltan Pegan & Eva Micsev (HUN) won by more than half a minute to confirm their supremacy in the 303 two-person class. They are reigning World Champions and now European Champions.
Three Liberty competitors were sailing with full servo-electric controls. The winner of the servo trophy was Vera Voorbach (NED) who also placed third overall.
Bruno Pereira (POR) also won today and claims the Access 2.3 trophy with a clear lead.
Societe Nautique du Gran Du Roi Port Camargue have put on a very professional event with excellent racing and great hospitality ashore. The club and its enthusiastic group of volunteers were thanked for their efforts by the International and French National Access Class Associations.
Competitors at Port Camargue were invited to compete in the 2010 Access Class Worlds in Rutland, Great Britain, next June, and at the next European Access Class Championships in L'Escala, Spain in April 2011.
Event Website - www.coques-en-stock.fr/portcamargue2009/