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6 September 2010, 09:52 am
Tension Mounts As 470 Men Prepare For 'Scratch' Medal Race
470 Open European Championships
Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell hit the front

2010 Open 470 European Championships
Istanbul, Turkey

With just the Medal Race remaining, the outcome of the 2010 Open 470 European Championships is far from clear. Two races in the gusty and shifty waters of Istanbul reshuffled the order of the men's fleet, and now just five points separate the top six teams.
Today the French dominated all three fleets across the 92-boat entry at these championships, with Pierre Leboucher and Vincent Garos scoring 1,2 in the men's Gold fleet, Ingrid Petitjean and Nadège Douroux winning both women's races, and Sofian Bouvet and Jeremie Mion moving well into the lead of the men's Silver fleet after scoring 2,2.

Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell couldn't believe they'd moved to the top of the men's leaderboard. "You're joking," said Patience, who knew he'd had a good day with 5,1 from the two races, but not that good. "We didn't think we'd be that high up, but today we were so on it. We spent a long time looking at the wind before the start, speaking to our coach. We really got to grips with what the wind was doing today, and we were just trying to stay one step ahead, one step ahead, the whole race."

While just five points separate the top six, representing five different nations, just two points separate the top four from Great Britain, Israel, Greece and Croatia. In the double-scoring Medal Race, two points are no different to 0, so these four teams will be racing off scratch, with the French and other Greek teams also ready to pounce on any error.

It's an intimidating situation for some sailors, mouthwatering for others. "Yee-haa, bring it on," said Patience. Israel's Eran Sela said it would be like a poker game, "you need skill and some luck," he smiled. Yesterday's leader, Greek sailor Pavlos Kagialis, said it would be high pressure. "I am not such a fan of high pressure."

President of the 470 Class, Stanislav Kassarov, commented on this fascinating scenario: "It is almost as if the regatta is starting from zero points, a one-race championship. There is a lot of discussion in sailing about what is the next step to make the sport more interesting to the public and the media. It is a good opportunity to consider future trials of a Medal Race starting from zero points."

Yesterday the points were tight between the women, but today Emmanuelle Rol and Hélène Defrance moved further into the lead, and now hold a 10-point advantage over their French team mates Camille Lecointre and Mathilde Geron. "We never stopped concentrating," said Defrance. "We were eyes open and never stopped trying to move forward through the fleet."

Geron was not so happy with her day, having yielded valuable points to her French rivals. The Italians who have led for so much of this regatta looked disappointed too, as they face a big challenge to make up 14 points on the leaders. Winning gold may be looking difficult although Lake Garda's Giulia Conti and Giovanna Micol are still very much within striking distance of silver, but equally vulnerable to losing bronze to the big improvers of the day, double-race winners Petitjean and Douroux. "We understood today's conditions very well, even if we didn't start so well in one race," said Petitjean. "Now we are in fourth place, so tomorrow for us the Medal Race is all about attacking the boats in front."

Tomorrow, the teams not taking part in the Medal Races will complete a final fleet race to determine the minor placings in the women's division and the Men's Gold and Silver fleets.This takes place at 1100 hours local time. Then the Medal Races will take place, starting with the women at 1500 hours, and then the men at 1545 hours. All the action will be covered live on Istanbul Sailing Club's GPS tracking system, which you can follow here: www.onlineracetrack.net

The 2010 Open 470 European Championships are organised by The Istanbul Sailing Club in co-operation with the International 470 Class Association and the Turkish Sailing Federation.

470 Men/Mixed - Top 10 Results After 10 Races
1. GBR 844 - Luke PATIENCE, Stuart BITHELL - 56,0
2. ISR 7 - Gideon KLIGER, Eran SELA - 57,0
3. GRE 1 - Panagiotis MANTIS, Pavlos KAGIALIS - 57,0
4. CRO 83 - Sime FANTELA, Igor MARENIC - 58,0
5. FRA 44 - Pierre LEBOUCHER, Vincent GAROS - 61,0
6. GRE 165 - Panagiotis KAMPOURIDIS, Theodoros POLYCHRONIDIS - 61,0
7. FRA 7 - Nicolas CHARBONNIER, Baptiste MEYER-DIEU - 80,0
8. ESP 9 - Onán BARREIROS RODRÍGUEZ, Aarón SARMIENTO PADILLA - 84,0
9. NED 77 - Steven LEFEVRE, Steven KROL - 109,0
10. RUS 2 - Mikhail SHEREMETYEV, Maxim SHEREMETYEV - 111,0

470 Women - Top 10 Results After 11 Races
1. FRA 12 - Emmanuelle ROL, Hélène DEFRANCE - 48,0
2. FRA 9 - Camille LECOINTRE, Mathilde GERON - 58,0
3. ITA 23 - Giulia CONTI, Giovanna MICOL - 62,0
4. FRA 4 - Ingrid PETITJEAN, Nadege DOUROUX - 66,0
5. AUT 431 - Sylvia VOGL, Carolina FLATSCHER - 87,0
6. DEN 143 - Henriette KOCH, Lene SOMMER - 90,0
7. EST 20 - Marjaliisa UMB, Elise UMB - 101,0
8. GBR 847 - Hannah MILLS, Claire CUMMING - 106,0
9. ISR 311 - Gil COHEN, Dana MAMRIEV - 110,0
10. GBR 840 - Sophie WEGUELIN, Sophie AINSWORTH - 114,0

More Information:
European Championship Website - www.470euro2010.org
European Championship News - www.470.org/news.asp?id=&filter=20
European Championship Photo Gallery - www.470.org/gallery_view.asp?id=78
Overall Results - www.470.org/content.asp?id=2178
Facebook - www.facebook.com/pages/470-Olympic-Sailing/194919699300
Twitter - www.twitter.com/470Sailing


Andy Rice
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