He sailed his first Olympics in 1996 in Savannah, USA and did so badly that he went home and started to train immediately. This was rewarded the following year with a top ten at the Finn Gold Cup in Gdansk and a third place finish at the European Championships in Split. Since then PAPATHANASIOU has been a force to be reckoned with at every major regatta, but an Olympic medal and a World Championship title have always evaporated in front of him. His only major success was in becoming the 2001 European Champion.
However, between 2000 and 2002 he took the bronze medal at the Finn Gold Cup three times in a row, behind the likes of Mateusz KUSZNIEREWICZ (POL), Sebastien GODEFROID (BEL) and Ben AINSLIE (GBR). He returned to the podium in 2005 again behind AINSLIE, losing the title on the final sailed race. In 2006, he again took the silver medal within a whisker of Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN (DEN).
PAPATHANASIOU started his 2007 attempt here in Cascais on Thursday, with two confident race wins in the tricky conditions. Then, as so many times before it seemed to go wrong on Friday. He said: 'I had a bad race on Friday in awful conditions - no wind one side, 15 knots the other, 60 degrees shifts, free pumping, no free pumping. I finished 12th. But it has happened now so I look forward keep going and try to discard it.' In yesterday's extreme conditions he placed second and third to move back into the lead.
'You need to be careful in those conditions. Sometimes I think I should try to push my boat to the limit. But then you have chance to capsize or damage something and as we are only just starting this World Championship, sometimes it pays to be careful.'
|Emilios PAPATHANASIOU competing in
On his preferred conditions: 'I prefer to have all types of conditions. Some sailors go really fast in one condition. For me I can survive and get top places in strong winds as well as light winds. This is good and proves why in the last 12 years I have won nine medals in Finn Gold Cup and European Championships. I am very confident in all conditions.'
On the series so far: 'The top is all very close. Many sailors are still very much in the game. I think the mental race is more technical than physical though and will depend much on experience. Then the Medal Race itself is very tough. You need to concentrate a lot. When the medal comes close the legs are heavy and the heart beats faster. Here experience can help more than in some other sports. This can make the difference between winning and losing.'
On the Finn: 'The Finn class once again has some really good sailors. This makes the Finn one of the favourite classes in sailing and why since 1952 it has been in the Olympic games, and I'm sure in the future. The Finn embodies the spirit of sailing.'
On the Olympic Test Event (next month) being so close to the ISAF Sailing World Championships: 'For sure it is a breezy venue here, and maybe it will be light winds for Qingdao. Has this regatta wrecked some sailors chances of performing well in Qingdao because they have prepared for a windy regatta here? No I don't think so. If you want to be top sportsman and top sailor you must be good in all conditions. Who knows what will happen? In Qingdao we could easily have some days of strong winds and big waves. In 2006 almost 40 per cent of regatta was like this, so if you are not ready for everything you have no chance of winning a medal.'
|At the 2004 Olympics
© Menahem Kahana/AFP/
On the Gold fleet racing: 'I will keep sailing much the same as I have been. Of course there will be more key sailors on the start line so some parts will be tougher. The key will be to concentrate on the wind, which is off the land, so there are many shifts to look out for. I will keep trying to be consistently in the top four, keep going bit by bit, point by point. Of course sometimes when I see it is possible to push the limit I do so, but under control.'
Racing for the Finn class here in Cascais resumes Monday at 13:00 after a lay day today, Sunday. PAPATHANASIOU currently leads POSTMAby one point with Rafael TRUJILLO (ESP) another two points back. There are only 14 points separating the top ten, so the initial gold fleet races could be a crucial decider in the 2007 Finn Gold Cup.
Over 1,300 sailors from 76 nations are competing at the 2007 ISAF Sailing World Championships, from 28 June-13 July in Cascais, Portugal. 'The Wind Is Calling' is the official motto for the 2007 Worlds. The Championships are the principal qualification regatta for the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition, with 75% of all national places to be decided.
Read our fleet by fleet reports by clicking on the links below:
Finn - Tornado - Yngling - Star - 49er - 470s - Lasers - RS:Xs
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