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17 August 2009, 09:27 am
French And Germans Win The 470 Junior European Titles
Sofian Bouvet and Jéremie Mion of France celebrate
Sofian Bouvet and Jéremie Mion of France celebrate victory in Hungary

470 Junior European Championships 2009
Lake Balaton, Hungary

Sofian Bouvet and Jéremie Mion of France won the Men's/Mixed title at the 470 Junior European Championship on Lake Balaton on Sunday, with Germans Victoria Jurczok and Josephine Bach finishing as top women's crew.
The race committee attempted to start a Medal Race for the 10 top team in the 92-boat fleet, but the light wind never settled sufficiently in strength or direction to be able to hold a satisfactory finale. So when the abandonment flag went up on the committee boat, the new 470 Junior European Champions celebrated by diving into the turquoise waters of Hungary's famous lake.

Other French sailors - either in 470s or on support boats - dived in to join Sofian Bouvet and Jeremie Mion (FRA) on their 470 which almost sank under the weight of multiple crew. Once back on shore in Balatonfured, the new Champions had a chance to reflect on a very good 2009 season. "We have had a very good year," said Mion. "It's very difficult to win two major championships in one year."

Bouvet put their success down to "good concentration and being able to hold steady and sail the same way even when the conditions are very shifty. It's difficult to do well in every race. We didn't have any really bad races this week, we came back well from bad positions by the time we reached the finish."

After a week of patience and discipline, it's time for the Champions to let their hair down. "Tonight we will have a big party, drink a lot with our friends, but not for too long because our next regatta is just five days from now, the 470 World Championships in Denmark." It will be interesting to see how the dominant team at Junior level fare against the Olympic-level sailors. "It will be very difficult and the best we could hope for is to get into the top 10," said Mion.

No Medal Race meant the Germans, Ferdinand Gerz and Tobias Bolduan, held on to the silver medal. There was a 13-point gap to make up to the French and a number of teams close behind who could have stolen silver from them. So they were relieved not to have raced. "The wind was really shifty and sometimes nothing," said Gerz. "I think it wasn't sailable today. We would have defended for silver and try for gold if there was an opportunity, but it would have been difficult."

In similar fashion to the French, the Germans have matched their Junior World silver with Junior European silver. "The conditions here were shifty and it was good to keep cool and continue sailing the usual way without getting nervous," said Bolduan. "It worked out well, especially our perfect day." That perfect day was three race wins during the qualifying phase of the regatta, a phenomenal performance.

Italy's Simon Sivitz and Jas Farneti took the bronze, and different nations filled the top six places. The Swiss team of Yannick Brauchli and Romuald Hausser only teamed up a few weeks ago before the 470 Junior Worlds in Thessaloniki, yet they managed sixth place in Balaton. This is particularly impressive considering the helmsman Brauchli has just returned from a year's break from the sport. "I stopped sailing because my crew stopped sailing. He was not motivated to sail a lot, so it took me a year to find a new crew. I think I'm more relaxed than before, and sailing better because of my crew, and we have a good team spirit together, even though we have only done two regattas together."

Victoria Jurczok and Josephine Bach went out to race the Medal Race today, the only girls' team to have qualified for the 10-boat final. They looked happy and relaxed, knowing they'd already won their main objective, the Junior European Women's title, the previous day. Silver went to the Greeks, Maria Voulgaraki and Danai Paschou, who finished just a point ahead of last year's Junior European Champions from Germany, Annika Bochmann and Anika Lorenz, this year's bronze medallists.

In the silver fleet, top dogs were the Italians Paolo Cattaneo and Vittorio Zaoli who finished a point ahead of Hungarian team Botond Szigethi and Kristóf Joó.

In bronze, the Hungarian women's team of Reka Vigh and Kinga Szabó won the battle for sibling rivalry, Réka beating her brother Tamás and his crew Máté Kovács by six points.

At the prizegiving the winners celebrated receiving their medals in front of hundreds of their fellow sailors, both from the Junior 470 and 420 fleets. And then the new 470 Junior European Champions were thrown in Lake Balaton, their medals around their necks.

Next year the 470 Junior European Championship takes place in La Rochelle, France.

Results - click here

Andy Rice
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