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14 August 2009, 03:30 pm
French Just Singing In The Rain At 470 Junior Europeans
Racing in Hungary
Racing in Hungary

470 Junior European Championships 2009
Lake Balaton, Hungary

The first race of the gold fleet finals at the 470 Junior European Championship didn't start well for Sofian Bouvet and Jeremie Mion, but as the old saying goes, it's not how you start but how you finish.
The reigning 470 Junior World Champions Sofian Bouvet and Jeremie Mion were lying deep in the 31-boat gold fleet around the first windward mark, with the wind blowing a shifty force 2 from the western end of Lake Balaton in Hungary.

By the finish, though, the French team had sailed a very mature, tactical race to rise to fifth across the line. "The wind was very shifty," said Mion, "and without that we couldn't get into first but later in the race we were very precise and didn't make any mistakes and that was good for the end of the race."

The French bounced back to fifth in that race, while their closest rivals in the overall standings, the German team Ferdinand Gerz and Tobias Bolduan slipped from first to third just before the finish.

"We were leading until the last run, and the wind was shifty and gusty and we didn't see them very well - I don't know why," said Gerz. "We had problems with the start today, always bad starts, all three races. I think we were just stupid. Tomorrow we will be smart, enough of stupid." Yannick Brauchli and Romuald Hausser (SUI) pounced on the Germans on the last run and took the winner's gun.

The wind dropped lighter and the racing became even trickier, but the French got even better, following their come-back 5th with two race wins. It moves them into a commanding position at the top of the leaderboard, with Gerz and Bolduan in second overall and in third place the Greek team of Mihalis Stavrou and Stathis Papadopoulos, who scored 2, 8, 2 today. "It was a very difficult day because the wind was very shifty," said Papodopoulos. "There was a lot of rain in the last race, and the wind totally died for a while, we didn't know which direction the wind would come from again. After the rain the wind came up to 12 knots from the right, but we held on to second place."

Two top teams slipped down the rankings today, with the French sailors Berenger Balzeau and Mathieu Fountaine suffering from a ripped spinnaker in the last race. Argentina's Sebastian Peri brusa and Santiago Masseroni had led the regatta at the beginning of the day but are now in fifth overall after a bruising experience. "We just couldn't find our way at all today," said Masseroni. "A very bad day, but anything can change, and tomorrow we have two races. We are still in the fight."

In the women's championship, Victoria Jurczok and Josephine Bach continue to lead and now hold a 20-point advantage over another German crew, Annika Bochmann and Anika Lorenz, the defending champions.

The gold fleet completed their three scheduled races, but the silver and bronze divisions were not so fortunate, suffering two abandonments and only completing one heat.

Botond Szigethi and Joo Kristof (HUN) dominated the silver fleet race to score a victory for Hungary, but it is the Italians Paolo Cattaneo and Vittorio Zaoli who lead from the Swiss sisters Stéphanie Hasler and Romy Hasler.

A mixed crew from Greece, Vretti Xintarakou and Evagelos Mitakis, won the only bronze fleet race today. "We were a bit nervous before the race but then it started and it was OK. The wind shifted and we were in the lead but they stopped the race. Luckily when they restarted the race we were still in the lead."

This team has not raced together before and Xintarakou said it was very different sailing with a boy rather than another girl. "We don't have much to say to each other. We just talk about racing, nothing else. So the boat is quieter than when we sail two girls together." It's a formula that seems to be working for them.

Denys Kalchenko and Andrii Svyrydov from the Ukraine lead the bronze fleet, although only by three points, with many races yet to be sailed.
Andy Rice
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