The Germans won both the 49er and 49er FX fleets on the final day of the Forward WIP 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 European Championships in Austria, while Italy foiled to victory in the Nacra 17 catamaran fleet.
Although the 49erFX leaderboard stayed fairly steady, the four races per fleet on the final day generated some big changes on the 49er and Nacra scoreboards. There were always opportunities on the unpredictable race courses on sunny Lake Attersee.
49erFX: Lutz and Beucke hold off the Norwegian threat
All the sailors woke up well before sunrise, ready to answer the call for a 7.20am start just as the daylight was beginning to creep over the high mountains to the east of Lake Attersee. In two races in a light southerly wind, series leaders Tina Lutz and Susann Beucke of Germany looked very at ease racing the 30-boat Gold Fleet in the tricky conditions, always in touch with the front of the fleet and stretching their 2 point advantage over Helene Næess and Marie Rønningen to look very comfortable at the top of the leaderboard by the lunch break.
When the afternoon wind filled in from the north, it was twin-trapezing time. Sweden’s Julia Gross and Hanna Klinga, along with Dutch duo Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz, won a race each and were enjoying the stronger conditions sufficiently to climb to 3rd and 4th overall respectively.
Lutz and Beucke were having their worst race of the regatta, crossing the line in 12th. The consolation for them was that it went even worse for the Norwegians who crossed the line in 20th place. The championship was almost done and dusted for Germany, but an 11th place still left the door open for Norway to overtake them. If Næess and Rønningen could climb just a little higher through the fleet it might have been their title, but a 7th place meant they finished with the silver medal, 4 points behind the German victors. A well deserved win and a first European Championship title for the team that won Kiel Week three weeks earlier.
49er Open: Fischer and Graf cling on to win ahead of Austria
Tim Fischer and Fabian Graf have become European Champions in the 49er, despite a wobbly finish to their regatta. A bit like their German counterparts in the 49erFX, Fischer and Graf clocked up two useful scores earlier in the day with 3,2, but then faded in the final two heats with 13,11.
In the final race, it looked like the recovery of the regatta was about to crowned with the best possible finish for local heroes Benjamin Bildstein and David Hussl. On day one, Hussl had been so ill that the Austrian team’s coach stepped in at the front with Bildstein. They were sitting outside of the top 10 with a mountain to climb if they were to have a chance of getting on to the podium. With Hussl recovered and the team back together, they started to put together a solid set of scores.
At the final bearaway of the regatta the Austrians rounded next to an Irish team in 4th place. The simultaneous gybe-set would have gone fine except the Irish trawled the gennaker. In trying to avoid their suddenly-stopped rivals the Austrians capsized! They slipped six places to 10th. The losing margin to the Germans was just 3 points. If only Bildstein and Hussl had avoided the Irish – but that’s yacht racing at the highest level. A game of small margins.
For the Croatian brothers, Šime and Mihovil Fantela, it was also a case of what might have been when they discovered that their race win in the first heat of the morning was a U-Flag disqualification for breaking the start line just a fraction early. The 2018 World Champions had to be satisfied with a bronze medal in Lake Attersee. A race win in the final heat lifted Jonas Warrer and Jakob Precht of Denmark to fourth overall.
Nacra 17: Tita and Banti back to their best
As dawn broke and the Nacra 17 fleet launched, just six points separated the top six teams on the leaderboard. Once again the new Greek team, Iordanis Paschalidis and Myrto Papadopoulou, stole the thunder of the more fancied crews and rode their luck in the patch breeze to take the first race of the morning.
Leaders for most of the regatta, Argentina’s Santiago Lange and Cecilia Carranza Saroli, could not find their mojo today, the reigning Olympic Champions slipping down the rankings to sixth overall. The three most consistent performers on the final day ended up occupying the podium, with Italy taking gold and bronze. Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti finished on top, four points ahead of France’s Quentin Delapierre and Manon Audinet, and Vittorio Bissaro/ Maelle Frascari three points further back in third.
The reigning World Champions, John Gimson and Anna Burnet, looked dead and buried half way through the final race but somehow weaved their way through to second across the finish. The fast-finishing British team fell short of the podium by a single point.
The Regatta is complete
Union-Yacht-Club Attersee deserve all the credit for taking on the organisation of a major European Championship in just three months. Usually these events are years in the making. The conditions were as challenging as expected, but no one can say that the wrong sailors won. Late Attersee really turned on some great breeze for the final afternoon of competition and we saw drama until the very end.