Fickle northerly winds and intermittent showers of rain greeted the semi-finalists of the Whirlpool Match Racing European Championships in Helsinki, Finland.
Top scorer Marie BJÖRLING chose Lotte Meldgaard PEDERSEN for her opponent. Maybe not such a smart move after all, as it turned out. This left Swedes Malin KÄLLSTRÖM and Malin MILLBOURN to fight each other.
Lotte PEDERSEN proved a tough cookie, with superior spinnaker handling in the light weather. Cool as a Danish cucumber, she provoked Björling to several tactical errors, ending up in an unrepairable double penalty for the Swedes, and a 2-0 score to secure a Gold final place for the Danes. Meanwhile, Millbourn enjoyed the light conditions in which she won the Worlds in Luleå, and bested Källström 2-1 to take the other slot in the finals.
In the finals, the northerly wind trickling through the Helsinki skyline was full of holes. Outguessing the wind was just as important as outfoxing the competition. Björling and Pedersen, in their bronze and gold heats, chose their starting positions to allow a first tack towards the shoreline, and this turned out to be the correct strategy in both races. Milbourn did not help her case by getting two penalties in close succession.
The team of Lotte Melgaard Pedersen, sporting the red and white Danish national ensign in the backstay, cruised to a comfortable victory. "We made fewer mistakes than the others today",
said the diminutive gold medallist Lotte, a marine civil engineer by trade. The team will next contest the Nordic Match Race Champs in Roskilde, Denmark. Silver medallist Malin MILLBOURN, a product manager in the foods business, is heading for Florida later this year.
Full results and flight scores are available on the event website at the address below.