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17 September 2007, 09:35 am
MARTINEZ And FERNANDEZ Win 49er Europeans
Image of Iker MARTINEZ and Xabier FERNANDEZ
The new European Champions

Seiko 49er European Championship 2007

The Seiko 49er European Championships came to a close in Marsala, Sicily with Iker MARTINEZ and Xabier FERNANDEZ taking the title from the PECKOLT brothers.
Iker MARTINEZ and XABIER FERNANDEZ, Olympic gold medallists and two-time World Champions, have added to their titles by winning the 2007 ISAF Grade C1 European crown. After 19 races the Spanish were able to increase their lead to 22 points over the Germans Jan-Peter PECKOLT and Hannes PECKOLT in second place. Coming in third was the home team, Pietro SIBELLO and Gianfranco SIBELLO, thriving on the home support out on the water.

The top three crews had an untouchable lead going into the final Medal Race, with a 26 point buffer separating third and fourth position. The Spanish, Germans and Italians were all guaranteed a podium place but Sunday's race decided the colour.

The race saw the French crew leading off a clear start to the windward mark and retaining their position all the way to the finish. The entire race saw a steady 14 knots of wind, which seems to be the conditions that the sailors have become accustomed to in Marsala.

Throughout the week MARTINEZ and PECKOLT have been battling for the top spot, with the Germans being strong in qualifying but not being able to withstand the pressure from the Spanish.

Finishing second in the Medal Race to the French crew Morgan LAGRAVIERE and Stephane CHRISTIDIS, MARTINEZ and FERNANDEZ secured their overall win effortlessly.

Speaking after their victory MARTINEZ said, "It was very nice out there again today, we are very happy with the win; the whole week went very well. It is good to have had some wind this week and we have had a very good regatta."

After an uncharacteristic World Championships for MARTINEZ and FERNANDEZ in July and a difficult year, they have returned to their usual form, taking the European Championship with ease. MARTINEZ continued, "The result sums up our week, it was very good. It was a very nice week, but especially it was really nice to be sailing well. We have had a complicated year many things happened and it was not so easy for us to sail this year.

Delighted with their second place, which soared above their expectations, Hannes PECKOLT commented, "We are very happy; we started very well and our aim was to get a top-five spot, in the end second was much more than we expected. Winning a medal is always the best thing. We have always been fourth or fifth in other European Championships, this is our best overall result ever in a major regatta."

Although a good idea of the results was known after Saturday's race, the Medal Race still provided exciting sailing in a beautiful location. Most crews now take some time out before preparing for the World Championships in Australia early next year.

Event Website - http://www.circolovelicomarsala.com/49er/index.asp
Results - http://www.circolovelicomarsala.com/49er/classifiche/Classifica%2049er.pdf

"We probably got better through the week; we were sailing better and better each day, we came into this week feeling confident and comfortable with our boat and performed well.

"We had good manoeuvres and boat handling all week, so it was really nice to be sailing and enjoying it so much. Our consistency this week was ok, we had some good races and some not so good races over the week, but we got number one here so we cannot be happier.

"From here we have a few weeks holiday before beginning to prepare for the World Championships in Melbourne in January."

Laura Pollard (As Amended By ISAF)
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