Hansen and Iversen Seize Moment to Claim First European Title
Sometimes a regatta can come down to a moment, and for Jena Hansen and Katja Iversen they seized the moment and claimed their first ever European title. The Danish duo trailed Italians and reigning European Champions Giulia Conti and Francesca Clapcich by four points entering the medal race, meaning they had to beat the Italians and put one boat in between them.
On the first beat, the right was favored and the whole fleet headed that way, with the Danes in second following the British, but critically, with the Italians just on their windward hip. After a long drag race where the Danish sailed a fairly high line, the Italians had held on, but were just behind. As the British tacked on what appeared to be the layline, the Danes and Italians had critical decisions to make.
“We were happy to see the British boat there as we thought they might need to be the boat we pass to get a boat in between,” said Katja Iversen. “When they tacked, the layline looked close, but we wanted to tack underneath in case we could make it and we didn’t want to give the opportunity to the Italians. We pulled off the tack and Conti did the same, but we and the British were too far ahead, so we could roll them and they ended up having to do two more tacks, giving us the gap we needed.”
In that moment, the Italians fell from third, a regatta winning position, to seventh by the windward mark. They fought bravely back through the race, but could only catch two of the boats and needed to settle for Silver. The Italian disappointment was evident, “There will be no more chances to be European Champions, as we retire after the games,” said a clearly disappointed Conti. Her team mates consoled her, all knowing there would be the greater prize to shoot for on the horizon in Rio.
This medal race marks the second in a row that has not gone well for the Italians, who took a terrible turn in the 2016 49erFX World Championship in Clearwater and got stuck in a hole for 5 minutes while the rest of the fleet continued passed them. The race today was lost in a much more typical fashion, but is no less heartbreaking.
Elated by the finish were 2016 World Champions Tamara Echegoyen and Berta Betanzos, ended up tied with the Argentinian crew of Vicky Travascio and Sol Branz on 101 points, but claim the Bronze medal by having the better medal race position. The Spanish team were leading the regatta after day four, but had two poor days in a row to drop out of the hunt for the win, so were happy to bounce back and claim a medal on home waters.
Home waters were good to Spaniards this week, as Diego Botin and Iago Lopez also claimed the Bronze medal in a great medal race performance for them. These young guns have been on the rise for all of 2016, up to fifth during the 2016 World Championships before their team mates match raced them back due to an internal trials, a third place finish in Palma, and now a Bronze medal at the European Championship and the top European at the European Championship.
Out in front were Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, ever present champions in the 49er, followed by Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen, who sailed very cleanly into the Silver medal position and are gearing up for another big run with only four months to go until Rio.
The next regattas for most of these teams are the Sailing World Cup in Hyeres in late April and the 49er and 49erFX South American’s in Rio, July 11-14th.
The Barcelona International Sailing Center provides spectacular conditions all week, with 19 races complete by fleets in a variety of condition under always sunny skies. The facility is built for sailing, with ramps, accommodation, restaurant, docks, and plenty of boats. During the championship a number of other classes were using the facility as a training base.