River Race Sets Stage for 49er Europeans in Porto

The boat park hums with registration, measurement, last minute tuning, and last minute nerves on the Duoro River in Porto, Portugal.  On Monday the 6th the 49erFX Eruopean Championship will begin followed by the 49er class on the 7th.  To cut the tension and invite the city of Porto into the regatta a fun River Race  was held to bring the boats up close to the city and banks of the river.  Prize money of 300 euros per fleet was enough to keep the fleet on target, if not cutting each others throats.

With a solid 15 knots of breeze, the 49er got under way first.  With a one off race and only prize money for first, there were the expected few over early’s, and the start was a black flag.  It was a funny scenario, with a better shifts on the right, better current on the left, but in the end it was pressure that was king and the left had it.  Boats on the right side of the beat were stuck languishing while those on the left shot forward.

As the river narrowed it became a tacking duel to keep out of the worst of the flood between James Peter with Finn Sterritt (GBR), Jorge Lima with Jose Costa (POR) and Uberto Visconti with Gianmarco Tongi (ITA).  The Italians got the best of it but then all three boats had to cross into the heart of the river flow and choose which way around the windward gate to go.  The Italians chose right, and then gybe set to get their spin up to leeward.  The Brits chose left, and set normally, and the Portugese missed on their first approach right as the current was too strong, but then got around the right and set straight.

Unfortunately for the Italians, they got their spin wrapped on the hoist.   Peters (GBR) got a great puff while the Portugese followed.  The run was very puffy and shifty, ultimately the brits held on, and would have won the prize money if it hadn’t been for their OCS start.  The glory went to the local favorites, Jorge Lima and Jose Costa who have already been receiving a huge amount of press attention.  It was a popular way to start the regatta.

Campeonato Europeu 49er 2015
Campeonato Europeu 49er 2015

Next up was the 49erFX race.  The wind, while still strong outside the river was quite light and patchy by this point.  It was a drift fest off of the start line and for much of the first beat.  Five teams took the lead at time, including the Spanish, Indians, Croatians, and both Norwegian teams.   First around the windward marks was India followed closely by Norway’s Agerup sisters.  The run was as patchy for the women as it had been for the men.  The Indians had a good lead about 3/4 of the way down the run, but then sailed into a dead zone, even having to drop their spinnaker for a short while.  That opening was enough for the Agerup sisters to sail around the outside and capture the victory.

It was a fun way to start the week.

James peters Seiko sailing
Campeonato Europeu 49er 2015

Other teams were relaxing in other ways.  The Australian team continued their season long ‘Master Chef’ re-visitation, with Nathan Outteridge up in Porto making up for his missed night in Weymouth.  Each team has been tasked with a cooking night all season, with (at times) harsh judging being the norm.  Nathan’s last minute effort was not enough knock of leaders Tess Lloyd and Caitlyn Elks, who claim the title for 2015.

The forecast is shaping up nicely for a great week of racing.  The teams have been getting used to sailing on an ocean swell, and the week should have plenty of it.  49erFX racing begins on Monday the 6th of July with 49er on the 7th.  There will be live tracking for all gold fleet races with SAP analytics and live broadcasts from July 10th to 12th.  Tune into https://49er.org/event/2015-european-championship/ for all the action.

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