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16 July 2014, 11:21 am
Great Britain And Austria Claim 470 European Titles
470 Women European Champions Lara Vadlau and Jolanta Ogar (AUT)
470 Women European Champions Lara Vadlau and Jolanta Ogar (AUT)

Open 470 European Championship
Athens, Greece

The final double-points Medal Race wrapped up racing to decide the podium line-up today for the 2014 470 European Championship and Open European Championship titles, with overall European victory going to teams from Great Britain and Austria.
The wind filled in on Medal Race day with a shifty offshore breeze of around 15 knots funnelling onto the race track for the 470 Women Race, before easing off for the 470 Men.

470 MEN

Luke Patience and Elliot Willis (GBR) claimed 470 Men European Championship gold the day before, so their only focus in the 25 minute windward, leeward Medal Race was to put sufficient boats between them and the overall Championship leaders Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS) to try and claim the 470 Men Open European Championship too.

But, the 11 point deficit to Belcher and Ryan proved too much, and with the Australians covering the British in the latter stage of the race and restricting their lane options, it was game over to secure Open European Championship glory too. Belcher has taken the 470 Open European Championship for the third time.

Austria's Matthias Schmid and Florian Reichstaedter went in to the Medal Race as the underdogs in the three-way challenge for European silver and bronze medals with Joonas Lindgren and Niklas Lindgren (FIN) and Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic from Croatia. The Austrains managed to stay out of the way of their rivals winning the medal race by almost half a leg to secure the silver medal.

Meanwhile the Finnish team struggled with their first upwind leg rounding the first mark in last place, the bronze medal firmly in the hands of the Croatians. As the race progressed the Lindgren brothers dug deep to get back into the race and moved up to fifth. This put them on tiebreak so they needed just one more place to take the bronze, this proved too hard for the Finnish brothers who dropped back to seventh dropping of the podium to fourth and Fantela and Marenic taking the bronze.

"I just don't get it now, still not," commented Reichstaedter on the team's silver medal success. "But it comes slowly and slowly. It is an amazing feeling and is the best regatta we have sailed until now. We had a really tough last month working really hard on our technique and boat stuff and we really managed to show our strengths and the opportunities we have. It is a great day for Austria."

Their Silver medal marks the best performance so far of their thirteen year partnership in the 470 Class. "We love to sail the 470 and for Austrians to become really good at sailing takes a bit longer sometimes, compared to people who grow up on the sea," commented Schmid, "I think our success is that we work really well together and have a lot of fun in what we do. Now we are really, really happy to get a medal."

470 Men
1. Mathew Belcher/Will Ryan (AUS) - 38 pts
2. Luke Patience/Elliot Willis (GBR) - 53 pts
3. Matthias Schmid/Florian Reichstaedter (AUT) -71 pts
4. Sime Fantela/Igor Marenic (CRO) - 73 pts
5. Joonas Lindgren/Niklas Lindgren (FIN) - 77 pts

470 WOMEN

The funnelling effect of the breeze coming off the land and onto the track meant teams had to clearly go left or right, not up the middle. The left side paid, with the Dutch pair of Afrodite Kyranakou and Anneloes Van Veen up at the windward mark with a massive lead, and went on to take out their first ever medal race win on a lead of around one minute over the pack.

The Austrians and British were already guaranteed gold and silver medals for the 470 Women European Championships, with just the colours to be sorted between them, leaving Tina Mrak and Veronika Macarol (SLO), Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre (GBR) and Camille Lecointre and Helene Defrance (FRA) all in contention for the bronze medal.

In the 470 Women Open European Championship, the top three teams from Austria, New Zealand and Great Britain, were all guaranteed to finish on the podium, with just the order to be sorted.

Lara Vadlau and Jola Ogar (AUT) massive points advantage had them fairly safe to secure both the European and Open European crowns, despite being in 7th place at the first windward mark. Ahead of them, the Kiwis were in 5th and Great Britain's Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark in 6th, putting the Open Europeans second place to the Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie (NZL). But all change at the downwind turning gate as disaster struck for Aleh and Powrie, as they capsized, leaving them to trail to finish the Medal Race in last place taking the bronze medal.

"Coming into the bottom mark, we had a bit of a whoops,"
explained Aleh. "We had to do two gybes to avoid a boat and stuffed up the second one pretty badly, dug it in and did a slow capsize that we couldn't seem to get back from. It took 3 or 4 minutes of Polly up on the bow untangling it. We then had to go back around the mark and by then it was all over."

"I don't know if you could get much worse than that," smiled Powrie. "Sometimes it just happens. We have had a pretty tough week and probably haven't sailed to our potential this week. A lot of mistakes all week. Hats off to the Austrians and British, who have sailed really well all week."

A fantastic result for Austria's Lara Vadlau and Jola Ogar who claim their first ever 470 Championship title.

"I just feel sensational right now," commented Vadlau on winning both the European and Open European titles.

"It is really hard to keep yourself calm," reflected Ogar. "We made so many mistakes in the medal race, like never before. I think we were just over excited. We thought we were calm, but we were really rushed. But this is the Medal Race, it is a really short course, really stressful and everything is on the edge. Now we see we must practice this medal race to be really calm. If you are calm and have a better view than everybody, then you can win."

470 Women
1. Lara Vadlau/Jolanta Ogar (AUT) - 45 pts
2. Hannah Mills/Saskia Clark (GBR) - 58 pts
3. Jo Aleh/Polly Powrie (NZL) - 62 pts
4. Anne Haeger/Briana Provancha (USA) - 72 pts
5. Tina Mrak/Veronika Macarol (SLO) - 87 pts

The 2014 470 Open European Championships has hosted 248 sailors from 31 nations over the 6 days of competition. The Championship is the first time all the world's top 470 sailors have been on the same race track since last year's 470 World Championships.

Many of the teams are now heading off to Brazil for the Aquece Rio International Sailing Regatta 2014, which is the first Test Event for Rio 2016. Then on to the Santander 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships, 8-21 September 2014, where 50% of the nation qualification places to the 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition will be awarded.
Luissa Smith
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