SLOW FINISH FOR 49ers
From Yachts and Yachting
Yet again, the local Ijseelmeer breeze conspired against the finale of a major Olympic class regatta as the final day of racing at the 49er European Championships at Medemblik in Holland came to a premature conclusion, three races short of the full series.
Both the Gold and Silver fleets were due to add another five races to their scoresheets by the end today, bringing their tally up to ten. They only managed two in a fickle 4-8 knot breeze this morning and were sent back out early this afternoon to complete the series although after two general recalls in a dying breeze, the race committee abandoned the balance of the races and concluded the European Championships.
Paul Brotherton, who won the title two season ago, wasn’t able to reproduce the form he and crew Mo Gray showed in the three day qualification round over the very short seven Gold fleet races and had to settle for tenth place overall. “We’re disappointed with tenth as the result didn’t reflected our speed and the way we were sailing. Top five was quite attainable but it is our best international result over the last twelve months so we’re slowly getting there,” commented Brotherton.
The conditions were far from those Ian Barker and Simon Hiscocks, who will represent Great Britain at the Sydney Olympic Games, were hoping for. Having finished fourth at the same venue and against the same competition a week ago (the SPA Olympic Classes Regatta) they were using the event to tune a new rig and didn’t have enough time to get their equipment in sync with the conditions. “This event has proved that in 49er sailing, the value of your sailor can go down as well as up but the Olympic Yachting Regatta, Ian and Simon’s main focus, will be decided over nine days instead of two and they have proved over the last two or three seasons they are more than capable of performing over that time scale,” commented RYA Olympic Manager John Derbyshire.
Although three time 49er World Champion Chris Nicholson and double world championship winning crew Daniel Philips (Australia) won the open European Championships, Danish Olympic representatives Michael Hestbaek and Jonathan Persson were capped the 2000 49er European Champions after finishing tied on points with Rodian Luca and Georgiy Leonchuk (Ukrainian) but winning on countback. Iker Martinez and Xavier Fernandez (Spain) claimed the final podium position.
MEDEMBLIK: 49er European Championships Final overall (after 5 days):