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11 June 2009, 10:36 am
Croatia And Italy Still Lead As Light Winds Continue At 470 Europeans
Light wind conditions on Lake Traunsee
The opening three days of the 470 Europeans have been dominated by light wind conditions on Lake Traunsee

470 European Championships 2009
Lake Traunsee, Austria

Sime FANTELA and Igor MARENIC of Croatia and Italians Giulia CONTI and Giovanna MICOL continue to lead the 470 Europeans in Austria after another day where light winds curtailed the scheduled programme of races.
Today should have been the last day of the qualifying series at the 470 European Championships in Austria, but the weather conditions continue to have an effect on the schedule of both events. Both men's groups completed one race on Wednesday, and so did the women's fleet. Sime FANTELA and Igor MARENIC (CRO) retain their overall lead but give away their "discard reserve" with a 22nd place in the day's only race. Giulia CONTI and Giovanna MICOL (ITA) had a bad start, but fought back, and secure their leadership with fifth position at the finish.

Although wind conditions are light, competition is fierce. Eight nations from three continents are represented in the current Men's 470 top 10. It's a similar story amongst the female crews, with nine nations from the same three continents represented in the Women's 470 top 10.

Men's 470

Although the men from Croatia still lead the Men's 470 fleet, Harada RYUNOSUKE and Yugo YOSHIDA from Japan are performing remarkably well. Their record in international 470 sailing goes back to the 2007 ISAF Sailing World Championships in Cascais where they were lucky to compete in the gold fleet. At the Semaine Olympique Francaise in Hyères this year, event four of the 2008-09 ISAF Sailing World Cup, they had their first success in a major event and ended in fifth position overall. At the following World Cup event, the Delta Lloyd Regatta, their good form continued as they made it to the Medal Race. Today, they won race five in their group and secure their promising second position overall.

Gabrio ZANDONA and Edoardo MANCINELLI (ITA) won today's race in the other group and climb to seventh overall.

Mathew BELCHER and Malcolm PAGE (AUS) are moving up slowly, but strong. The new Australian team formed out of two top performers, coached by Victor KOVALENKO, scored a second place in today's race. It may be expected that they will increase the pressure on those in front of them in the coming days. PAGE won the Open 470 Europeans last year with his former helm; Nathan WILMOT. PAGE and WILMOT had the highlight in their sailing career so far, by winning the gold medal in Qingdao 2008.

FANTELA and MARENIC have been true heroes in the Junior 470 scene by winning the 470 Junior Worlds in 2005 and 2007. Exciting battles have taken place with other talented Juniors, like Eyal LEVIN and Yam AMIR (ISR), who were the strongest in 2006. Croatia left the Junior Worlds' venue Travemuende with the silver medal. The young talents won the Medal Race at the 2007 ISAF Sailing World Championships (however ending sixth overall), and made their Olympic debut in Qingdao 2008, where they ended in ninth position.

"The conditions are extremely difficult. The last two days we were lucky with our decisions. Today we decided to sail on the right side of the course, what turned out to be the complete wrong side. We now have to stay calm and concentrated. When we start sailing the gold fleet, it's more difficult to have good results. Everybody makes mistakes and all teams in the top 10 are still able to win the championship. We will see, but we still are full of hope!" FANTELA said.

Women's 470

Margriet FOKKEMA and Marieke JONGENS from The Netherlands scored the bullet in today's only race, winning a close battle with Qingdao 2008 Yngling class silver medallists Mandy MULDER and Merel WITTEVEEN, also from the Netherlands. FOKKEMA and JONGENS seem to perform well in light winds. The Dutch ladies, inspired by Olympic dreams at an early age, picked up the silver medal this year at the light wind Semaine Olympique Francaise ISAF World Cup event. They move up to ninth position overall.

Still it's Giulia CONTI and Giovanna MICOL (ITA) and Ai KONDO and Wakako TABATA (JPN) who make the game in this Women's 470 event. The rivals scored a reasonable fifth and average 14th place respectively, and didn't shake Jo ALEH and Olivia POWRIE (NZL), and Anthi ECONOMOU and Olga TSIGARIDI (GRE) from their tail yet.

Nevertheless, it could have been worse for the Italian women. CONTI and MICOL made a bad start in the race, but recovered perfectly.

"We are close to the half of the event, before we come to the Medal Race. On this lake you can never be sure about your final rank before you hear the signal of the finishing boat. The wind is very puffy and shifty. If you miss a shift, you can lose up to 20 places. This Championship is about who makes less mistakes then the others. We were the team so far with less wrong decisions. We have tried to use our lake experience from Lake Garda, and so far it worked," CONTI said.

From Qualifiers into the Final Series

Racing continues tomorrow to finalize the qualifiers, which should have been completed today. The 470 men will go out on the water, if possible, to have one race, and get back ashore to have results calculated and have protests handled, if any. If the wind conditions will allow racing, the men's fleet will go out again to start the final series, separated in a gold and silver fleet.

For the Women's 470 European event, it will be easier as no calculations have to made, and the same group of 39 crews will continue from the qualifiers into the final series.

What is definite is that the Medal Races in both the men's and women's events will take place on 14 June.

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