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2 August 2008, 10:43 am
Double Victory For Greece At 420 World Championships
Action from Athens
Action from Athens

420 World Championships 2008
Athens, Greece

Two World Champions for Greece were crowned at the Nautical Club of Tzitzifies-Kallithea, Marina Delta Falirou, Athens as the 420 Worlds concluded.
Michalis MILEOS and Evangelos-Vasileios MITAKIS and Katerina and Sofia KAITATZIDOU are the new World and Ladies' World Champions, respectively.

We had caught up with Katerina and Sofia earlier in the week, when they talked about one aspect of the Championship they particularly enjoyed: "It is really interesting to be sailing with many girls from other countries that we sailed with before, last year in Istanbul. It is nice to see them again, but also to see the development in our sailing during the year, to compare our progress. In Greece, we mainly have to sail with the boys, but here we have a large women's fleet, many girls, and the standard is good". Katerina had told us earlier in the week that it was a "good day for Greece", well, a good Championships for Greece all round!

Indeed, it did not end there! Vasilis PAPOUTSOGLOU and Akilas DROUGAS (GRE), not only took the silver medal, but scooped both the John Merricks (18 and under) and William Sanchez (16 and under) Trophies too! Both recent Optimist sailors, with top-10 Optimist experience at Medemblik and Gdynia, and started sailing the 420 in September 2006. They were clearly buzzing with the experience of sailing the 420 in a large Championship, and then leading the gold fleet through most of the Championships, only to be overtaken by their more experienced and 470-sailing team mates, MILEOS and MITAKIS, on the last day of racing. "We were 23rd in the gold fleet at the Europeans at Istanbul last year and 16th at the Junior Europeans in Holland; it is great to be doing so well at our first Worlds, here in Athens. There is more to come!"

The silver medallists in the Ladies' Championships, Gil COHEN and Adva KREMER of Israel, also won the John Merricks (under 18) Trophy. During the event, KREMER spoke of the hard and challenging conditions, "Here there are short waves, not the longer, sea waves of Tel Aviv". Israeli coach, Linur KLIGER, compared the standard of sailing at this Championship with that at the European Championships last year in Istanbul, "In Istanbul there were, maybe ten top performing sailors, here the standard of the top 40 is all very high; it is very impressive".

The silver fleets were led by Georgia and Amanda RODRIGUES (BRA) and by Matthew RAINBACK and Simon FOSKETT (GBR).

The highest placed under 18 Ladies, Alexandra MALONEY and Bianca BARBARICH-BACHER (NZL), won the William Sanchez Trophy, while Denise VASSI and Tzenni SMIRLI (ISR), the youngest team in the Championships, were awarded the Huck Scott Memorial Trophy, by Class President, Nino SHMUELI.

We caught up with VASSI and SMIRL and asked them about the experience of their first 420 World Championships. Former Optimist sailors, they sail out of Ναυτικ?ς ?μιλος Βουλιαγμ?νης ('NOB'), the Nautical Club of Vouliagmeni, 20km south of Athens. Tzenni explained that they had been sailing the 420 together for just the last year. "We were selected at two five-day regatta. The experience here is great. The competition is strong….the best in the world are here".

"This is perfect!", said VASSI, "the standard is very high". Asked about the change from the Optimist, SMIRLI responded immediately, "It is great to move from the little boat, sailing on your own, to a big boat, working together". Speaking about the sailing, the girls reflected on how the wind here is "hard and changeable" - "different to sailing at our own club" - they searched for the English word…"shifty?" - "yes, shifty! It changes so quickly, you cannot see it!". So, will you be back in the future? - "we will try!". "Yes, we would like our photo taken, but we want our coach….Michalis MILEOS….from our Club". [Oh, the World Champion, you mean?!]

We also met up with the youngest sailor at the Championships, Koren BARSHATZ (ISR), with his crew, Yair GOLDSHTEIN and their coach, Offer KOHN. BARSHATZ, 14 next December, started sailing at 10, in the Optimist, and they took up with the 420 last year. BARSHATZ had a "big surprise" coming to Athens. "There are a lot of very good sailors, a big fleet. The starts, it's difficult to get a good start". The wind was "complicated". "In Israel, it does not come from the shore; we sail away from the beach", said GOLDSHTEIN. Offer KOHN explained that, to prepare for Athens, they had been training on the Sea of Galilee, with very similar wind conditions. The 420 General Assembly decided that the World Championships in 2010 will be held at Haifa. "We'll be better by 2010!", promised BARSHATZ.

At the Closing Ceremony, a special award was given to Atlàntic and Nora BRUGMAN (USA) for going to the aid of a sailor in distress, to their own competitive disadvantage.

Meanwhile, the World Champions for 2008 were confirmed, and the 420 flag was formally passed to representatives from Italy, the current European Champions and bronze medallists at this World Championships, Eduardo Mancinelli SCOTTI and Lorenzo DE FELICE, ready for the 2009 World Championships to be held at Fraglia Vela Riva on Lake Garda next year.

Just for the record, there had been no sailing on the final day of the Championships. The Meltemi wind had built on the penultimate day, but it blew on the last day and it ruled! With 30-32 knots steady wind speeds and up to 40 knot gusts, there were a series of postponements, and the Race Committee eventually decided, shortly before 15:00, to abandon sailing for the day. We did see a certain Irish boat take to the Saronic Gulf around 16:00, but the crew, off for final a blast, assured us that the wind had dropped off….we'll believe him! Meanwhile, preparations were underway for the Prizegiving, Closing Ceremony, buffet and disco….and, by all accounts, a great party in one of the Sailing Clubs in the Mikrolimano Harbour, Piraeus. Everyone we spoke to had enjoyed the event immensely, with the challenging conditions that tested the racing skills of all the sailors and great opportunity to catch up with old friends and to make new ones. Many thanks to Athens and to the organizers for an excellent World Championships.

Καλ?ς α?ρας στα πανι? σας! Good wind in your sails!
Tony Mapplebeck
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