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7 July 2013, 10:14 am
Final Eight Decided At 49er and 49erFX European Championships
The 49erFX fleet
The 49er FX fleet in Aarhus

49er & 49erFX European Championship
Aarhus, Denmark

It was a waiting game in Aarhus as the wind refused to play ball until mid-afternoon. The top eight are now decided in both fleets ahead of the Medal Races on Sunday.
The 49er men fleet headed out to have a go at racing, but after some patient waiting the Race Committee sent them back ashore, to wait for the sea breeze to kick in. Mid-afternoon and the 49erFX fleet took to the shore side course first, where a live audience was ready and waiting.

49er
The 49er fleet had the patience of saints on what was a fully pressurised race day. Sent out to race first, but with the breeze failing to materialise they were sent back ashore before eventutally returning to the race course in even more challenging conditions with the breeze slowly dying and two twenty minute races were completed.

A deciding day and sticking close to your rival was the best strategy to minimize exposure. Following this approach at the pin end of the line, were the two Danish teams of Jonas Warrer and Peter Lang and Allan Norregaard and Ander Thomsen. But not a good start for Warrer and Lang who struggled to get off the line well, and ultimately finished in eighth.

At the other end of the startline, the British pair of Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign, second on the leaderboard going into the day, opted for the committee boat end, where they could be closer to German's Erik Heil and Thomas Ploessel, who were just behind them in third overall on the leaderboard. A wise starting manoeuvre, and it was advantage to the British who were first to the windward gate with a clear and safe lead. The rest of the fleet jostled about a bit, in what became a packed rounding. Into the downwind leg, and the Kiwi 2012 Olympic silver medallists, Peter Burling and Blair Tuke had some close battles, particularly engaging with Julien D'ortoli and Noe Delpech (FRA), but they came out of it well and rounded the bottom gate in second place, intent on not losing their leaderboard top place to anyone, least of all the British pair.

With Fletcher and Sign continuing to extend their lead, it was a tactical game for the rest of the teams. D'ortoli and Delpech edged up to second place, with Croatia's Olympians Pavle Kostov and Petar Cupac in third and the Kiwis knocked back in fourth. Small changes in the last downwind leg and crossing the line, it was the British who were now in first on the overall leaderboard, with the Kiwis in second and the French in third.

But not for long, as onto the second race of the day and Burling and Tuke fought back, secured their fourth race win of the series and were back on top. A great position to be in as they enter the top eight team finals tomorrow.

The Kiwis pride themselves on their boat handling, which in today's shifty conditions can make all the difference. "We sort of pride ourselves on our boat handling", said Tuke. "Playing the shifts and good boat speed and we have managed to get some pretty solid results."

49er Men Top 8 Leaderboard - Provisional Overall Results
1. Peter Burling/Blair Tuke (NZL) - 60 pts
2. Dylan Fletcher/Alain Sign (GBR) - 67 pts
3. Julien d'Ortoli / Noe Delpech (FRA) - 79 pts
4. Erik Heil/Thomas Ploessel (GER) - 83 pts
5. Jonas Warrer/Peter Lang (DEN) - 89 pts
6. Jorge Lima/Jose Luis Costa (POR) - 94 pts
7. Nico Luca Delle-Karth/Nikolaus Leopold Resch (AUT) - 98 pts
8. Marcus Hansen/Josh Porebski (NZL) - 98 pts

49erFX

Four twenty minute races were scheduled for the 49erFX women's fleet, but with the light winds dominating the race track today, the schedule was reduced to just two races.

Sitting tight at the front of the 49erFX top 16 teams are Ida Marie Baad Nielsen and Marie Thusgaard Olsen (DEN), after knocking out race results of third and ninth. But closing on in and reducing their points advantage are the star performers of the day Martine Grael and Kattena Kunze from Brazil.

Series leaders going into the day, Nielsen and Thusgaard Olsen took maximum advantage of their call to start in the middle of the line in the day's opening race and rounded the windward mark in first. But the intense pressure on them from the Brazilians in the first downwind leg proved too much, and Brazil's world #2 ranked pair edged into the lead and held on to cross the line in first, with the world #1 team of Alexandra Maloney and Molly Meech in second and Baad Nielsen and Thusgaard Olsen in third.

Onto race two of the day and the first win of the series to Annemiek Bekkering and Claire Blom (NED), with Brazil crossing in second and the third place finish going to Great Britain's Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth.

A good day out on the water for Ida Marie Baad Nielsen and Marie Thusgaard Olsen who hold the leaderboard first place after the semi-finals. The team are pleased with their performance so far, as Thusgaard Olsen explained, "It is so nice. We have been training a lot for this regatta. Today we did really well in the first race. We made a very, very good start and were in the front to the first top mark and then we made some mistakes and ended in third. But it was pretty good. In the next race we did a bad start and were not on the right side of the course and ended up 9th which was not that good."

Whilst hoping to win here in Denmark, the Brazilians are equally just delighted with their performance so far, particularly their 1,2 scoreline today which puts them in second overall on the leaderboard. Grael needs no introduction, as daughter of Brazilian sailing legend Torben Grael, although she has made her mark independently of her father's massive achievements. Back in 2009, Grael secured a gold medal in the 420 Class at the premier youth sailing event, the ISAF Youth Worlds held in Buzios, Brazil and from there it has been an upward trend. She has been full on campaigning in the 49erFX since the start of 2013, and consistently placed at the front of the fleet, winning ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami and the 49erFX Mid-Winters in Miami, following up with sixth place finishes at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Palma and then a month later the same finish position in ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyeres.

Here in Denmark they are feeling confident, but best not to be overly so. "Today we had a good day. We did what we wanted to do, started free and looked for the gusts coming," commented Kunze.

Grael is pleased with their progressive improvement here in Aarhus, adding, "At the beginning of the Championship, we were always doing bad starts and always having to come from behind and try to go forwards in the fleet. I think now starting forwards is easier," she laughed.

Looking ahead to Sunday's concluding day, Grael said, "Obviously it is good to have good places, but tomorrow will be a different race. We are very happy about the Championships so far. It doesn't matter how it ends as we know we have sailed really well so far. "

Looking ahead to Sunday's deciding day every point counts, and with three races on double points, all is still open as the top 8 advance through to the theatre style races to decide the 49erFX European Champions.

49erFX Women Top 8 Leaderboard - Provisional Overall Results
1. Ida Marie Baad Nielsen/Marie Thusgaard Olsen (DEN) - 61 pts
2. Martine Soffiatti Grael/Kattena Larsen Kunze (BRA) - 72 pts
3. Alexandra Maloney/Molly Meech (NZL) - 80 pts
4. Jena Mai Hansen/Katja Salskov-Iversen (DEN) - 82 pts
5. Annemiek Bekkering/Claire Blom (NED) - 88 pts
6. Giulia Conti/Francesca Clapcich (ITA) - 94 pts
7. Tina Lutz/Susann Beucke (GER) - 97 pts
7. Charlotte Dobson/Sophie Ainsworth (GBR) - 98 pts

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