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15 June 2009, 01:16 pm
Croatia And Italy Win 470 European Titles
Italy's Giulia CONTI and Giovanna MICOL
Italy's Giulia CONTI and Giovanna MICOL are the new 470 European Champions

470 European Championships 2009
Lake Traunsee, Austria

Japan's Harada RYUNOSUKO and Yugo YOSHIDA finished first overall but it was Croatia's Sime FANTELA and Igor MARENIC who took the European title to join the Italian women's crew of Giulia CONTI and Giovanna MICOL as winners at the end of the 470 European Championships in Austria.
At 07:00 on Sunday morning, racing successfully got underway for both the Men's and Women's 470 fleets, to conclude the 2009 470 European Championships in Austria. One race in each event was needed to have a valid Championship, and a light early morning breeze fulfilled this requirement smoothly. Harada RYUNOSUKE and Yugo YOSHIDA (JPN) won the Men's 470 event, whilst in second place overall and first European team, Sime FANTELA and Igor MARENIC (CRO) won the European Championship title. Giulia CONTI and Giovanna MICOL from Italy won the women's event securing themselves the title of 2009 European Champions.

These European Championships were the first International 470 Class Championships within the Olympic Quadrennium onto 2012. After seven days of competition, the top five in the men's event was occupied by crews who have already won a varied number of medals in various International 470 Class Championships. It shows, that competition in the 470 class rarely features common leaders, nor specific nations that dominate in the global 470 class competition. Thirty nations participated in total, and both men's and women's events featured crews representing nations from five continents.

Men's 470

Sime FANTELA and Igor MARENIC, now proudly swinging their 470 European Championship gold medal, are the youngest of these top five ranked crews. The men from Croatia had their Olympic debut in the 2008 Olympic sailing competition, where they finished in ninth position. As stars of the youth scene, they had won the 470 class Junior World title in 2005 and 2007, and with the European's title of 2009, the two 23 year olds have scored their first major success on the senior circuit.

"This is the most excellent feeling we've had so far in sailing," FANTELA said. "It's our first major victory. It was extremely difficult this week, but the Race Committee did a fantastic job under this hard conditions. It is far easier for us to sail on the sea. Here on the Traunsee you need a good eye for wind shifts and a lot of routine. We gave our maximum every day and every race. This result is a confirmation for us and our trainers, that we are all going in the right direction."

Lucas ZELLMER and Heiko SEELIG from Germany Also win their first medal in an International 470 Class Championship. By winning silver in the European event (finishing third overall after the Japanese and Croatian crews), they finished ahead of numerous opponents with very impressive records.

Gabrio ZANDONA won the bronze medal in this 470 Europeans with his new team mate Eduardo MANCINELLI. ZANDONA started his professional sailing career with Andrea TRANI while taking part in a an Italian military sports support programme, the same path followed by Women's European Champions CONTI and MICOL. ZANDONA and TRANI won their first Championship (bronze) medal at the 470 Europeans in 2001, and continued to win the 470 World title at the 2003 ISAF Sailing World Championships. Next to sailing 470s, ZANDONA sails Melges 24 where he led his team to the European title in 2005.

Mathew BELCHER and Malcolm PAGE (AUS) end their second event since arriving in Europe in fifth position.

Victor KOVALENKO, coaching the Australian 470 team into a new Olympic period looks back onto the development of, and conditions during the event. The event has brought experiences to the Australian team, that may be useful to dig for new Olympic gold. But most of all, and typical for KOVALENKO's character, he admires the efforts and success of others.

"It was an interesting, challenging event, and successful in general. We had difficult conditions, but in the end the best sailors show on top. If there would have been more races, the results would not have been different," KOVALENKO said.

"We congratulate the winners because they deserve it. And about the Croatians, they have been working for this for so long now, we are very happy for them!.

"For us, it was a good learning school. We had complex light winds, thermal winds, cold water, all types of conditions that we don't have in Australia. In the end, we are very happy with our results,"
he concluded.

Sven COSTER and Kalle COSTER (NED) take fourth in the Europeans (sixth overall). The Dutch brothers had their first big success at the 2007 ISAF Sailing World Championships, where they climbed the podium for the silver medal. In 2008, they won silver at the 470 Europeans. In their second act at the Olympic Games of 2008, they lost the Olympic bronze medal in the last half hour of the Olympic event to Nicolas CHARBONNIER and Olivier BAUSSET (FRA).

CHARBONNIER, now forming a team with Baptiste MEYER, is known as a very talented and successful sailor in many types of sailing disciplines. After many successes in youth sailing, he combined 470 sailing while being involved in the French America's Cup project. Also in multihull sailing, CHARBONNIER shows on top in international events.

Women's 470

Giulia CONTI and Giovanna MICOL from Italy won the overall event, and the European title, after leading the championship from start to finish.

After CONTI's Olympic adventure in the Yngling class that ended in Athens 2004, she teamed up with MICOL in 470s. They started the competition in the Women's 470 in 2005, and worked their way up to win silver at the 2008 World Championship. After missing out on the medals at Beijing 2008, European glory is the perfect start to the new Olympic quadrennial.

"It is a great feeling," commented CONTI. "It is our first win at the Europeans after being second in 2007. We did a fantastic job over the whole week. Only today we had a bad race, which we discarded."

The pair's victory is all the more impressive considering they have only just returned from a lengthy post-Olympic break.

"I am extremely happy that we are still able to be in front after quitting racing after the Olympics. We started to sail together three weeks ago and now we are the champs," CONTI revealed. "The conditions during the week were challenging, but we can say that it was a fair championship. Traunsee is a beautiful place and tricky to sail. With a bit more weather luck, it would have been a fantastic spot."

After winning the ISAF Sailing World Cup - Delta Lloyd Regatta last month, Ai KONDO and Wakako TABATA from Japan came close to a second victory, but eventually had to settle for second place overall. KONDO and TABATA, previously both helms, have teamed up after the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition and are already showing the form that made KONDO and her previous crew Naoko KAMATA one of the top teams on the Olympic sailing circuit.

Third overall were another non-European crew, Jo ALEH and Olivia POWRIE (NZL). In 2007 the young Kiwi team won the 420 Ladies' World Championships, and took a shot for a first 470 experience at the 2007 ISAF Sailing World Championships to end 15th. ALEH however went on to focus on an Olympic campaign in the Laser Radial, where she won silver at the Test events of 2006 and 2007, and reached seventh position in the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition in the Women's One Person Dinghy event. After the Games, ALEH and POWRIE concluded that they fit together in a two person dinghy and announced that they would start a 470 campaign onto London 2012. Their decision already looks to be vindicated. At the Delta Lloyd Regatta in May they ended the event in a very successful fourth overall, and in Austria this week have gone one better.

Tara PACHECO and Berta BETANZOS from Spain took fourth overall and second place in the Women's European Championships, finishing as the second-ranked European nation. The women from Spain have made great strides since switching from the youth to senior circuit. At last year's Women's 470 Junior Europeans and Worlds, they had to allow other crews like Hannah MILLS and Katrina HUGHES (GBR) take the top honours, however at the latest Semaine Olympique Francaise they made great progress to take fourth overall position, leaving the other Junior women far behind. Also at the Delta Lloyd Regatta they manage to put the pressure on the seniors ending the event seventh overall.

Anthi ECONOMOU and Olga TSIGARIDI (GRE) have their first success in a senior 470 class Championship. They win bronze in the Women's Europeans (fifth overall), by the narrowest of 0.8 point lead on Margriet FOKKEMA and Marieke JONGENS (NED). The Dutch team have made good progress with year, with a silver medal at the Semaine Olympique Francaise as their best result so far. In this event, they also manage to stay ahead of their fellow Dutch crew Mandy MULDER and Merel WITTEVEEN, silver medallists in the Yngling class at the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition.

The next International 470 class Championship will be the 470 Worlds, to take place in Copenhagen, Denmark from 20-29 August. Before then the ISAF Sailing World Cup visits Kieler Woche for its sixth and penultimate event from 19-24 June.

Men's Results - click here
Women's Results - click here
Rick van Wijngaarden (As Amended by ISAF)
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