The Lake of Garda is already famous for windsurfing but also for sailing. This safe place, with perfect wind conditions, warm temperatures and a beautiful landscape, attracts a great number of sailing enthusiasts.
The 49er European Championships will be held in this lake surrounded by Monte Baldo. The mountains bring two famous winds. This is due to the different temperatures of the water and the mountains. Peler, Northern wind, is blowing in the morning and Ora, Southern wind, appears at midday. Ora was blowing around 20 knots these last two days for the great pleasure of 49er sailors who could rather do the Grand Prix in Riva, go training or even relax and go windsurfing. However, according to the local people, this year the weather is more unpredictable.
Being the last regatta before the Olympics in Athens, the atmosphere is relaxed as most of the selections are made and the minds are focused on the Games. These Europeans will be more like a training although some countries and teams still have to prove their level.
Measurement started today, Sunday 4th of July, and will go on until Monday morning. The sailors will warm up Monday with a practice race. Championship races will start on Tuesday. Around 60 boats are registered and more are expected.
Rockets on the water
With 20 knots blowing on flat water the sailors were treated to typical Garda conditions. The sailors came back exhausted after putting in all their energy to the three races. The red fleet on Alpha course was quickly divided into two. The top sailors were finishing like rockets while the new teams were fighting against the brisk wind.
Allan Noregaard tired but pleased said: “These are the best conditions you can hope during racing.” The American team, Tim Wadlow and Pete Spaulding were lucky, they broke their main sheet during the first race but still managed to finish second. They had time to come back ashore before the next start. Tim said, “The start line was so close that we could go back ashore to get ready again”. He added: “The conditions are awesome here and we just want to have a great time.” The Finnish team of Thomas Johanson and Jukka Pirainen sailing on Bravo course are probably the most delighted. Thomas won the Gold medal in Sydney in 2000 and is going to the Games but this time with Jukka. He said: “This is the best sailing day I had in my life! The conditions were great and we finished 1st in all the races!”
The French team of Marc Audineau and Stéphane Christidis, even though they had a 3, 4, 5 were still not too pleased. Marc said “We are not too happy. We managed to be steady but we made a lot of mistakes and could have done better.” George Leonchuk, crew of the Ukranian team was even less satisfied: “Not good at all today…But tomorrow is another day!”
Most of the sailors are here on holiday and the others are thinking about the Games and are testing their equipment. This is the case of the Danish team of Michael Haestbeck and Dennis Dengsoe who just won their Trials at Kiel. They were 4th at the Worlds and today they are preparing themselves for the Games. Michael said: “We are here to practice. We will try to have good results but the conditions in Athens won’t be the same, both the weather conditions and also the attitude of the sailors…” Only one team is still fighting to go to the Games: the Dutch pairing of Mats Hellman and Pim Nieuwenhuis. The Netherlands haven’t yet decided if they are going to send them.
Team GBR Report: from Sacha Oswald, RYA
Good start for Draper and Hiscocks at European championships
Athens bound British sailors Chris Draper and Olympic silver medallist Simon Hiscocks made a good start to their quest for a medal at the 49er European Championships, their last major regatta before the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.
The championships, which got underway today (6 July) on Lake Garda, Italy have attracted a total of 92 boats including many of the worlds top 49er skiff sailors. For many of the teams this will be their last chance to test their skills and equipment before the Athens Olympic Games next month.
The first day got underway in 20 knots of breeze which gave the fleet a good shake up and allowed three races to be sailed. Draper and Hiscocks, who won a silver medal at the Europeans last year and more recently a silver medal at the 2004 world championships, made a good start to the event. Posting three results in the top four, including one race win, they are currently lying fifth at this early stage. Just behind them are fellow RYA team GBR sailors Alister Richardson and crew Alex Tobutt and Stevie Morrison sailing with Ben Rhodes.
The overall leaders after day one are Thomas Johanson and Jukka Pirainen of Finland who won all three of their races. They lead by a small one point margin from Chris Nicholson and Gary Boyd of Australia.
The fleet has one more day of qualifying races before the final series takes place from the 8-10 July.
Daily updates and results will be issued on the new RYA Athens 2004 website www.gbrsailing.org.uk. A final press release will be issued on the last day of the championships – 10 July.
Results after day 1: (including top 50 GBR boats)
1, Thomas Johanson/Jukka Pirainen, FIN (1,1,1) 3 pts
2, Chris Nicholson/Gary Boyd, AUS (1,1,2) 4 pts
3, Michael Hestbek/Dennis Andersen, DEN (1,1,3) 5 pts
5, Chris Draper/Simon Hiscocks (2,4,1) 7 pts
6, Alister Richardson/Alex Tobutt (5,1,2) 8 pts
7, Stevie Morrison/Ben Rhodes (3,2,4) 9 pts
20, James McIntosh/Philip Kennard (2,9,8) 19 pts
23, Richard Bone/Christopher Rodway (7,10,5) 22 pts
32, John Pink/Alex Hopson (9,6,10) 25 pts
34, Ben McGrane/Jonathan Clegg (14,7,6) 27 pts
39, David Evans/Richard Peacock (13,7,11) 31 pts
44, Mark Dell/Paul Dell (12,12,11) 35 pts
46, Roger Gilbert/Adam Brushett (12,10,15) 37 pts
48, John Wilson/James Barker (8,14,16) 38 pts
The European Championships started its second day without the presence of current World Champions, Iker Martinez and Xavier Fernandez of Spain. Yesterday the 49ers were sailing like rockets on the water – maybe they went too fast. Iker and Xavier capsized injuring Iker’s hand who spent the evening at the hospital. As a result it looks like they will not complete the Championships.
In todays unpredictable conditions the first race for blue and red fleets was planned at 12.00 but the Southern wind had not established itself yet. After a delay, the races started with light conditions resulting in many general recalls. Then, the wind reached 18 knots in the gusts but dropped when the second groups reached their courses. Therefore the second groups only sailed 2 races as against the 3 for the first groups. The Australian team of Chris Nicholson and Gary Boyd agreed that today races were more tricky than day one. Gary said: “On the first race, we started too early and went the wrong way so we deserved our 8th in the first race. We could have won the second but with the shifty conditions we still managed to stay in the top group.” There are many young and new teams fighting with the top sailors that are going to the Games next August. Gary Boyd said it was great for the class. The surprise came from the British team of David Evans and Rick Peacock who won the second race. They sailed 29er together for the last two years winning the 29er Worlds in Spain last year. They started sailing the 49er in September. Rick said: “This is our first international event, we came here to get more experience and more training. We will probably be in the Silver fleet but next year we hope to make the Gold fleet. We are training with the other British and have learnt a lot from them. We may prepare the Games of 2008 or 2012.”
On the other course, the Irish team of Tom Fitzpatrick and Fraser Brown were leading with a first and a second places. Unfortunately they had to come ashore after breaking a cap shroud. They were delighted with the results especially because after a car accident Fraser has some neck problems. They didn’t know if they would do the regatta but they decided to play with the others. Tom said: “You have to be tough in this game!.” He added with a smile that they managed to win the race by port tacking the fleet at the start!
Provisional results after day 2:
1. Christoffer Sundby/Frode Bovim NOR 6 6pts
2. Thomas Johanson/Jukka Pirainen FIN 10 7pts
3. Michael Hestbeck/Denis Dengsoe DEN 4 7pts
4. Chris Nicholson/ Gary Boyd AUS 13 8pts
5. Tim Wadlow/Pete Spaulding USA 5 8pts
6. Alister Richardson/Alex Tobutt GBR15 9pts
7. Chris Draper/Simon Hiscocks GBR 2 9pts
8. Jonas Warrer/ Peter Kruger DEN 18 11pts
9. Marc Audineau/Stéphane Christidis FRA 21 12pts
10. Andre Fonseca/Rodrigo Duarte BRA 26 13pts
Chilling in the rain!
The final day of qualification ended yesterday with a total of five races. The yellow and the white fleets sailed 3 races against the 2 for the blue and the red fleets. The committee decided to discard the third race so that both groups finished with five races. With the shortened series some of the competitors were lucky such as the Spanish team of Alberto Padron and Javier De la Plaza who, thanks to that decision found themselves in the Gold fleet. On the contrary the Danish team of Peter Hansen and Soren Hansen missed it and are now leading the Silver fleet.
Today should have seen the start of the finals but the wind was lazy – the threatening clouds on the mountains didn’t let it blow. When a light wind settled the bronze fleet was sent to the course. Just as they were about to start the wind dropped completely. They came ashore with the rain. The sailors spent their day playing football, reading or relaxing at the café.
The Gold fleet will start tomorrow morning at 8.30, the silver fleet at 13.30 and the bronze fleet at 15.30. Christoffer Sundby from the Norwegian team leads going into the finals. He said: “If the fleet manages to wake up, it will be a good days racing. There’s a nice northerly breeze here in the morning but I hope we won’t race at that time…I am not really able to think before 10 in the morning!”
After no sailing yesterday, the Gold fleet was sent out for an early start and what turned out to be a long day. Following the stormy night, the sailors woke up at 6 in the morning and reached the harbour at 8.30.
When they arrived, the wind was still sleeping and the sailors could hardly wake up. Would the wind come? The race committee went out on the course where a light wind of 5 knots had settled. The 49ers came next to the starting line but the wind dropped under the burning sun. The wind increased slowly to reach 18 knots and the sailors and the spectators were treated to 5 spectacular races. Racing was really close and an incredible high standard with lots of action and incidents. As the Games get nearer the tension in the Gold fleet appears to be rising. The 49er fleet is not used to so many protests.
Some confusion at the finish line of the second race meant some of the boats finished incorrectly. However, the jury decided to cancel the race. Alex Tobutt, who crews for Alistair Richardson, still had a smile on his face even though his win was taken away from him.
Gary Boyd from the Australian team said: “There were a lot of ups and downs today!” For the spectator, it was quite hard to figure out who was leading this fleet…A team could lead and then drop in the shifting winds. At the finish of the third race another exciting incident was watching five boats capsize on top of each other. The silver fleet had also some troubles in the increasing wind with some close action on the starting line. One of the few girls sailing the 49er is the German Kerstin Beucke who was excited at the prospect of sailing but apprehensive as she watched the wind increase.
The Norwegian team of Christoffer Sundby and Frode Bovim retain the lead in the Gold fleet and they are followed by the British pair of Chris Draper and Simon Hiscocks.
Gold for Draper and Hiscocks at European Championships
Chris Draper and 2000 Olympic silver medallist Simon Hiscocks who will represent Great Britain next month at the 2004 Olympic Games in the 49er class, today (10 July) won gold at the 49er European Championships in Torbole, Lake Garda.
The championship took place over five days in a range of conditions making for exciting and close racing. The fleet lost one day due to a lack of wind in the middle of the week so had to endure some early starts the last few days to try and make up the races that were lost.
Draper and Hiscocks sailed well throughout the twelve races and placed in the top five in eight races, counting one race win amongst their score line. This consistency, which is one of the key factors in this class, meant that they went into the final day of the championship in second place overall and managed to pull through to win the championships by four points from Michael Hestbek and Dennis Andersen of Denmark. Australian sailors Chris Nicholson and Gary Boyd were just one point behind and finished third overall.
Fellow British 49er sailors Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes also sailed a great championship, and with three eighth places on the final day they moved up the leader board to finish in fifth place overall and fourth Europeans. Team mates Alister Richardson and Alex Tobutt finished twelfth.
Draper and Hiscocks will now move on to Athens were they have just over a month to continue training before the Olympic Games commence on the 14 August. Racing for the 49er class starts on Monday 16 August and concludes on Thursday 26 August. At the Olympic Games 16 races are scheduled for the 49er class.
For further information on RYA Team GBR or to follow the team’s progress in the build up to Athens, as well as during the Games itself, log onto www.gbrsailing.org.uk
Overall Results: (gold fleet)
1, Chris Draper/Simon Hiscocks, GBR (2,4,1,2,4,7,4,(9),5,(18),3,9) 41 pts
2, Michael Hestbek/Dennis Andersen, DEN (1,1,3,5,2,(22),(21),6,8,5,4,10) 45 pts
3, Chris Nicholson/Gary Boyd, AUS (1,1,2,8,4,11,6,7,2,4,(22),(12)) 46 pts
5, Stevie Morrison/Ben Rhodes (3,2,4,5,(12),9,1,4,(12),8,8,8) 51 pts
12, Alister Richardson/Alex Tobutt (5,1,2,1,13,(20),12,18,4,(20),9,3) 68 pts
22, James McIntosh/Philip Kennard (2,9,8,7,7,14,8,21,(22),6,(23),22) 104 pts