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28 March 2008, 09:18 am
MARTINEZ And FERNANDEZ Pull Away At 49er Europeans
The 49er fleet during Thursday's racing
Thursday provided another day of thrilling conditions in Palma

49er European Championship 2008
Palma de Mallorca, Spain

Spain continued their domination on the third day of racing at the 49er Europeans with Iker MARTINEZ and Xabi FERNANDEZ stretching their overall lead to 25 points.
The Spanish teams of Iker MARTINEZ and Xabi FERNANDEZ and Federico ALONSO and Arturo ALONSO still top of the overall standings of the 49er European Championship - Madrid 2016 after the fourth day of competition in Palma, Spain, with the two teams extending their advantage over their immediate rivals. Thursday's three final-series races consolidated of the first and second place overall for the two Spanish crews. The Basque team of MARTINEZ and FERNANDEZ is now 25 points ahead of the brothers from Asturias and 31 points up on third place Ukrainians Rodion LUKA and George LEONCHUK.

The final series of the 49er European Championship- Madrid 2016 began on Thursday with the fleet divided into gold and silver groups. The top 25 teams sailed three races while the silver group sailed only two, all in strong SW wind conditions, 17 to 20 knots in the famous bay of Palma and organized by Club Nàutic S'Arenal.

MARTINEZ and FERNANDEZ, gold medallists at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and the Spanish representatives for the 2008 Beijing Games had an excellent day with a first, a third and another bullet in the third race. They were undoubtedly the best team of the day, again showing consistency when all around them struggled. The double World Champions and reigning European Champions have now moved into a dominant position at the top of the leaderboard.

Despite their big lead, FERNANDEZ was not taking anything for granted at at the end of the day's racing.

"It's been another tough day again, especially due to the waves, but things have gone well for us and we now lead the standings with a comfortable advantage. But we have to concentrate because there are still five races of the final series left and the Medal Race," said the Spanish crew.

The team from Asturias, Federico and Arturo ALONSO had a more discrete performance with a fifth, fourth and a 13th. It could have been an even better day for the brothers as they had been on course for another strong finish in final race of the day.

"We were third but at 200 metres from the finishing line we faced some strange waves that made us capsize and we lost 10 places", the helmsman explained. "If we hadn't capsized we would have ten points less, we would have more advantage over the third classified team and would be closer to Iker and Xabi."

Notwithstanding that mistake, the crew from Asturias will go into Friday's three races with a six-point advantage over LUKA and LEONCHUK, who climbed up from sixth to third place overall after finishing third, 17th and second in Thursday's three races.

It was a day to forget for Swedish team of Jonas WARRER and Kalle TORLEN, who had been in third place overall at the start of racing. A retirement followed by an 18th and 21st dropped them down to 14th overall. The young Austrian crew of Nico DELLE - KARTH and Nikolaus RESCH are still fourth, just one point ahead of Italian brothers Pietro SIBELLO and Gianfranco SIBELLO, the current leaders of the ISAF World Sailing Rankings.

Finally, the Australian team of Nathan OUTTERIDGE and Ben AUSTIN began to show their ability and the reason why they were crowned World Champions this January in Australia. With a fourth, ninth and sixth places in Thurday's races they climbed up nine places and are tenth overall. The 2007 World Champions, the British team of Stevie MORRISON and Ben RHODES also climbed nine places and are 15th overall.

Another three races are scheduled for Friday with racing starting from 12:00 hours at Club Nàutic S'Arenal. Racing continues on Saturday, whilst on Sunday the top ten teams will sail the Medal Race to decide the 2008 European Champions.

Results - click here
49er European Championship - http://49er.cnarenal.com/49er

Neus Jordi
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