2014 Euros 49er Preview

This is the 18th running of the 49er European Championship and the third time the fleet has come to Helsinki, Finland with the previous events being in 2011 and 1998.  Qualifying runs July 8-10, Gold Fleet is July 11, 12 (live broadcast), Finals July 13 (live broadcast).

One of the most exciting aspects of the championship is the chance to watch two of the worlds best high performance sailors go head to head.  Burling versus Outteridge!  These two teams have won the past 5 world championships between them in 49er, and have raced each other in a number of other classes as well (Moth, AC45, A-class).  They are also about to go head to head in the next America’s Cup.  While nobody, especially them, would say this is a 2 horse race, odds are they will both factor in heavily.

The chasing teams are all from ‘squad’ countries, Great Britain, France, Denmark, Germany, and a second team from New Zealand.

Warrer (DEN), the 2008 gold medalist but did not qualify for the 2012 games as his countryman Allan Norreggard took the spot, and the Bronze medal.  Allan is off sailing Nacras for now leaving Jonas a clearer path in 2016.  Team Denmark has been shaken up one more time, however, as only 2 weeks ago Warrer announced his split from Peter Lang.  Peter crewed on the Bronze medal boat in London, and has now been replaced by Anders Thomsen who briefly sailed with Allan Norreggaard.  The Danish 49er scene is used to shake ups, but it seems a stretch to ask this new pairing to deliver so soon after teaming up.

Germany’s Erik Heil and Thomas Ploessel have emerged from the German pack.  They won the Palma World Cup in 2013 and medaled at the Euros last year, and recently won Kieler Woche on home waters.  They are a bit hot and cold in qualifying sometimes, including missing gold fleet at least years worlds, but in trapezing conditions are one of the top teams.

Team GBR is stacked again this quadrennial.  The leading light for most events has been Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign.  They had a chance to win the Euros last year and also got a Bronze in 2011 (in Helsinki) and will be extremely motivated.  The British system uses a selection committee to decide who gets to go to the Olympics.  Dylan and Align are trying to be consistently ahead of their British rivals at every major event so that the selection committee has no choice but to send them.

The rest of the British squad is sailing well too, with John Pink sailing with former 470 world Champion Stuart Bithell.  They will be joining Dylan and Alain in Rio for the 2014 test event.  Dave Evans and Ed Pows have had a number of solid events this year, including a Silver medal in Kieler Woche two weeks ago, and could easily emerge.  The dark horse is Nic Asher (former 470 world champion) with Flynn Sterritt, and then finally we cannot discount Stevie Morrison and Chris Grube.  Stevie is the 2 X British Olympic rep and 2007 World Champion.  It’s a stacked squad, but can they claim the top of the podium, a place they have been missing from for a mini-generation.

The French squad has 2 main contenders now.  There is Manu Dyan and Stephane Christidis, who were 4th at the London Olympics.  They took the year off in 2013, and during that time Julien D’Ortoli and Noe Delpesh were on the podium almost every event, and were certainly contenders.  It seems like line the return of Manu and Stephane that it’s had an impact on Julien and Noe, as they have not performed to their potential since the worlds in 2013.

Outside the squads there are teams from all over that can challenge.  Austria’s Nico and Niko are always in the game, Ireland Seaton and McGovern won their first World Cup medal this year, and the Croatians are veterans who could easily string a top regatta together, and then there are New Zealand’s Young Gun’s, Marcus Hansen and Josh Porebski who are looking to jump straight to the top of the podium.

Join us from July 11-13 for live broadcasts of the gold fleet racing and finals.  If you’d like an email reminder, sign up to our ‘insiders’ list.  We’ll have live coverage of the event via twitter and facebook, a Magic Marine Morning Show each day, and numerous other ways to stay in touch with what will be one of the best regattas of the year.

Coverage of the 2014 Europeans is brought to you by Seiko and Magic Marine.