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30 March 2008, 09:03 pm
Olympic Champions Win 49er Europeans
Iker MARTINEZ and Xabi FERNANDEZ
Iker MARTINEZ and Xabi FERNANDEZ celebrate the successful defence of their European crown

49er European Championship 2008
Palma de Mallorca, Spain

Athens gold medallists Iker MARTINEZ and Xabi FERNANDEZ were crowned 49er European Champions for a second consecutive year.
It was a Spanish double triumph at the 49er Europeans - Madrid 2016 with gold for Iker MARTINEZ and Xabi FERNANDEZ (ESP) and silver for brothers Federico ALONSO and Arturo ALONSO (ESP). The championship, held at Club Nàutic S'Arenal, in Majorca, had a gripping ending with the Medal Race today we ended in a very close battle between the top two for gold. Behind the Spanish crews at the top, third place on the podium went to Ukrainian sailors Rodion LUKA and George LEONCHUK.

The weather conditions in the bay of Palma for the Medal Race on Sunday were radically different from earlier in the regatta, with east southeast winds from the land, constant changes of direction and speed (an average of 9 knots) and flat seas.

Consequently the fleet sailed close together with constant changes of positions throughout the race to the point that the team to round the windward mark first was last at the leeward mark. This happened to Pietro SIBELLO and Gianfranco SIBELLO, the current leaders of the ISAF World Sailing Rankings, although they managed to regain places and finished second in the Medal Race.

But the focus of attention in the last race of the 49er Europeans - Madrid 2016 was on the two Spanish crews. MARTINEZ and FERNANDEZ, 2004 Athens gold medallists and the Spanish representatives at the 2008 Beijing Games, started the race with a four-point advantage over the Ukrainian team, and eight over the ALONSO brothers from Asturias who were lying third overall. The Basque team took to the start with confidence that they could regain last year's European title won in Sicily, and so they did. In the first beat to windward they took the right decision when the wind shifted taking the left side of the course together with the SIBELLO brothers. They were second at the windward mark while their rivals, Federico and Arturo ALONSO, were fifth in front of the Ukrainian team. The Austrian team, which was fourth overall, was also trailing behind.

From this point on the Spanish team concentrated on keeping control over its main rivals. The ALONSO brothers from Real Club Astur de Regatas de Gijón, sailed very well and after a few ups and downs crossed the line in fifth place, while MARTINEZ and FERNANDEZ suffered some misfortune in the last downwind leg and finished eighth. But their main rivals were unable to capitalize, all finishing below fifth place: LUKA and LEONCHUK were ninth; Austrian team Nico DELLE - KARTH and Nikolaus RESCH, seventh; and US sailors Tim WADLOW and Christopher RAST, sixth.

MARTINEZ and FERNANDEZ were crowned European champions with a two-point advantage over their home rivals and team mates from the Real Federación Española de Vela, Federico and Arturo ALONSO. It is the third European title for the Basque duo, who previously won in 2002 and last year. They also count two European bronze medals (2000 and 2006) and a silver medal in 2001. In contrast, it is the first European Championship medal for the team from Asturias.

Ukrainian sailors LUKA and LEONCHUK had to be content with the bronze medal at this 49er Europeans - Madrid 2016, four points behind the team from Asturias and two points ahead of DELLE - KARTH and RESCH in fourth. However, despite missing the podium, the Austrian duo will leave Spain contented as their performance was enough to secure their selection to represent Austria at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Fifth place went to the Australian team of Nathan OUTTERIDGE and Ben AUSTIN, the current class World Champions and winners of the Medal Race, a perfect finale to a championship that didn't start too well for them.

The prize giving ceremony of the 49er Europeans - Madrid 2016 was held at 17:00 in Club Nàutic S'Arenal.

The 49er European championship is sponsored by Fundación Madrid 2016, the regional ministries of Tourism, Sport and Youth of the Govern de les Illes Balears and Llucmajor city council. The regatta collaborators are firms Engel & Völkers & Cadillac and Seiko is the class sponsor.

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

Neus Jordi
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