As it turned out there was just one race, and the game became much clearer. When race 10 eventually got underway, on the third attempt to start the gold fleet, it was touch and go whether the race would continue as the leading boat only just rounded mark 1 seconds inside the 25 minute time limit.
Ultimately the consistent series from the Australians Angus Galloway and Alexander Gough (AUS), meant they could discard their finish deep in the pack result of the final race, and safely secure the first place in the 420 Open Junior Europeans with a five point margin.
The Open Junior Europeans second place went to Guillaume Pirouelle and Valentin Sipan (FRA), with Alexander Kavas and George Kavas (GRE) finishing their Championship in style with a race win and third overall.
The 420 Junior European Championship medals are awarded to the top three teams from European nations only, with the gold medals to Guillaume Pirouelle and Valentin Sipan (FRA), silver to Alexander Kavas and George Kavas (GRE) and bronze to Tim Gratton and Ed Riley (GBR).
"We won by the skin of our teeth," smiled Galloway, referring to the trump card they had up their sleeve for race 10. Their worst result was a 7th place from race 4, so they knew that whatever their position round the track, if it was worse than 7th the discard would transfer to their race 10 score. That is exactly what happened, as they finished 26th. Commenting on race 10, Gough said, "Most of the fleet took 2 or 3 minutes to cross the line. From 4 minutes to go, we were pulled on trying to get across the line and we just couldn't get across, we were caught in a really light patch. We didn't get going until 3 or 4 minutes after the gun when some pressure came through from the right." Galloway continued "We never really got back in the race and basically just were really deep by the finish." Galloway acknowledged the irony of scoring their worst ever result but coming out winning, "It's a little bit strange I guess. It is also a kind of relief. The conditions out there were such a lottery at times, it was a bit random. We were the most consistent and we were able to use our drop to the last race. We are really happy with how our European sailing has panned out."
They are eligible to compete in the 420 for a few years yet, but their next big mission is the 470 race track at the 2011 ISAF Worlds in Perth. "We have a bit of learning to do before then though," admitted Galloway. At this stage they plan to sail between both 420 and 470 classes for a bit yet.
The Kavas brothers sailed a smart race today, and had a little bit of luck, to take the gun and convert their fourth place going into race 10 into a bronze medal by the end. Always smiling Alexander said, "We had two attempted starts before we got underway. We were not so good at the start but we finished good. We just sailed fast. It is very nice to have the medal."
A highly competitive face off for the 420 Ladies European Championship medals is what you get when you mix the reigning 420 Ladies World Champion, two teams who finished inside the top 10 at the 2011 ISAF Youth Worlds, together with the 2010 ISAF Youth Worlds silver medallist and 2011 420 Ladies Worlds silver medallist. That was just some of the 420 pedigree held between the four ladies teams in the open gold fleet, who had only 11 points between them going into the final day, so a tough battle was guaranteed.
The Italian team of Giulia Lantier and Martha Faraguna (ITA) were in a class of their own outsailing all the ladies teams and all but two of the men's teams with a third across the line. Their stunning result very safely secured them the Ladies gold medal and a 13th overall on the open leaderboard. A delighted Faraguna commented, "It was tough but good. We had a bad start today and we finished first girls, and the other girls were worse so we managed." Their win marks a career best, as Faraguna concluded, "I like sailing with the men as there are more people to confront in the race. The first three days were strong winds which we liked, but we needed the light winds to get the first as the other girls are better in strong winds. It's been fun sailing here."
The Italian's closest rivals going into today, Jessica Lavery and Georgie Mothersele (GBR), finished race 10 in 15th to take the silver and for Annabel Vose and Megan Brickwood (GBR) a 20th race finish was sufficient to put them in bronze medal position.
Disappointment for Marlenn Lemaitre and Aloise Retornaz (FRA) who just couldn't find pace today and posted their worst result, outside of their OCS penalty in race 4, to finish as fourth Ladies team and 22nd overall out of the 34 team strong Gold fleet.
Relief for Vose and Brickwood who came into the Championship with significant pressure on them as reigning World Champions and after a disappointing result at the 2011 420 Europeans just a few weeks ago. A smiling Vose said, "It was really tense, the points were so close. So it was basically all on the final race. The two British and French started at the left hand side and headed out left, and the Italians had an awful start and got out right and got a shift which was quite lucky. So they rounded the windward mark really well and the rest of us were quite far back. So then it was keeping at least one other boat behind us and then we would still get a medal. Sadly it wasn't gold. I am very happy." Commenting on the pressure of being reigning 420 Ladies World Champion, Vose said, "There was a lot of pressure at the beginning of this event, particularly as we didn't perform very well at the 420 Europeans. There was a lot expected of us as the best British girls' boat to win. But a medal is a medal and we are happy."
The 2011 420 Junior European Championships proved a big turnaround for Great Britain who finish as the top nation with three podium finishes, and a deserved reward for their hard work after they left the 2011 420 Europeans empty handed two weeks' ago.
An impressive line up of teams from eight different nations filled out the top ten on the 420 Open Junior Europeans overall leaderboard:
1. Angus Galloway/Alexander Gough (AUS) - 25 pts
2. Guillaume Pirouelle/Valentin Sipan (FRA) - 30 pts
3. Alexander Kavas/George Kavas (GRE) - 34 pts
4. Tim Gratton/Ed Riley (GBR) - 42 pts
5. Goncalo Pires/Caetano Lacerda (POR) - 57 pts
6. Gal Cohen/Hadar Moran (ISR) - 59 pts
7. Floris van Werken/Laurens van de Werken (NED) - 59 pts
8. Adrian Barcelo/Pedro Terrones (ESP) - 64 pts
9. Jordi Xammar/Alex Claville (ESP) - 67 pts
10. Xavier Antich/Ramon Lleonart (ESP) - 67 pts
Trophies were also awarded to the top three teams in the silver fleet Francesco Bendandi/Frederico Pasini (ITA), Matthias van Holt/Alexander Jansen (GER) and Andrew Tang/Jonathan Yeo (SIN), and to the top finisher in the bronze fleet, ladies' team Justyna Kalinowska/Amelia Beaumont (POL).
The Closing Ceremony was combined with the International 470 Class, and after the medal ceremony the sailors enjoyed canapes and refreshments, before heading out to Nieuwpoort to celebrate.
The 2011 420 Junior European Championships took place together with the 2011 470 Junior European Championships in Nieuwpoort, Belgium from 7-15 August 2011. Thanks to the host club Royal Yacht Club Nieuwpoort (KCYN) and all supporting clubs and partners.
The 2012 420 Junior European Championships will be held in Riva del Garda, Italy from 9-17 August 2012.