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Sailing - 14. June 2013.

470 European Championships - Race Day 4


Some nailbiting action from the day's two races across the fleets and all change at the top of the leaderboard.

France takes over the yellow leader bibs in  the 470 Women events, with dominant performances from Sofian Bouvet/Jérémie Mion and Camille. A critical position for this team as they lead their fleet into tomorrow's penultimate day of racing.

Another clear and sparkling day in Formia, Italy at the 470 European
Championships, racing under a clear blue sky and with the forecast 12-14
knot breeze filling right in on time for racing. Day after day, the Bay
of Gaeta has proved itself as an outstanding venue, delivering perfect



The day's first race win went to Cassandre Blandin/Charlotte Mery de
Bellegarde, who rather surprisingly followed up with a 28th in race 8 -
expect the unexpected.

The new series leaders going into the penultimate day of racing, Camille
Lecointre/Mathilde Geron (FRA) have their hearts set on sealing the 470
European Championship after their 3,9 scores today places them on course
to secure a podium place. Despite finding the weather conditions
unpredictable, the pair has shown great versatility. "The wind is very
interesting as it looks the same every day," commented Lecointre, "but
every day the tactics are different so it is always a big surprise at
the top mark."

Reflecting on their 9th place in the day's second race, Lecointre
continued, "We did a mistake in the first upwind by going to the middle,
but the left won by a lot, so we had a bad position in the top mark and
had to work very hard to gain again. We have an OCS and all the points
count. We are happy but we really want to win the Europeans. It would be
our first Championship."

Camille Lecointre/Mathildre Geron (FRA) © gianlucadifazio.com

Also seeking their first 470 Championship title are Austria's Lara
Vadlau/Jola Ogar, who are on equal points with the French. Whether these
young teams can maintain their pace is yet to be seen, but similar to
their team mates in the 470 Men event, the French pair are already
discarding an OCS so one more slip up and they are destined to tumble
down the leaderboard.

In the second race of the day, race 8, Austria's Lara Vadlau/Jolanta
Ogar carried the advantage to the windward mark and from there strode
into the lead. It wasn't easy though, as the only contenders able to
stay in touch with Vadlau/Ogar were Olympic Gold Medallists Jo
Aleh/Polly Powrie. The two teams battled each other to the finish, with
the Austrians crossing 2 metres ahead, as Vadlau explained, "Over the
previous three races we were close to winning, but we always lost
because we didn't want to risk losing anything and wanted to be sure to
get second or third. But today we had enough of this approach and
finally we won the last race. We were first to the windward mark and
were really close to the Kiwis and hiking like hell on the reach and
then downwind they went right and we went left. They were faster than us
upwind, as the wind got stronger and we were a little overpowered, but
we didn't lose too much and on the downwind we got them."

Vadlau/Ogar have steadily improved throughout the regatta, and it was
only at the end of 2011 that Vadlau made the step up to the 470, but not
before claiming gold in the 420 event at the 2011 ISAF Youth Sailing
World Championship. At last year's 470 World Championships she secured
her place at the 2012 Olympics, and is now firmly on a mission to Rio
2016 with new crew Jola Ogar. Vadlau's progress has been quite
exceptional, "I am always in a bit of a hurry and I don't want progress
to be slow so I try to make everything as fast as possible. We are in
the plan now and with my perfect crew I have no choice but to win a
race," she laughed.

So relief for the 2012 Olympic Champions Jo Aleh/Polly Powrie (NZL) to
be back at the front of the fleet in race 8 after putting in a few below
par results, and they seem confident they are back on form. In true
"higher faster stronger" Olympic style, they converted a second row
start in the day's opening race which placed them in 30th at the first
mark, to an 8th by the finish. "It wasn't the greatest start and then we
got bounced around the first beat, as we never really committed to
anything and ended up really back in the pack," said Aleh. "Then Polly
got fired up and really started working. She just pumped, it was awesome
and we worked our way back through a lot of the fleet."

Processing the day's race, Powrie said, "It is not really tricky racing.
Once you are in front it is straightforward, but when you are behind it
is tricky. It is easy to stuff it up. The past few days we have also
gone the wrong way which has not helped, so today we have got the speed
sorted and we are going the right way, which makes life easier. We are
still hanging in there."

Acknowledging the challenge that the younger teams have set them, Aleh
said, "It is good to see some more people up there and making us fight,"
adding with a grin, "We have been fighting, but we have given them a bit
too much space!"

There is some interesting action going on further back in the fleet, not
least from the new combination of 2008 Olympic gold medallist Elise
Rechichi and crew Sarah Cook. Cook is a two-time Olympian in rowing,
competing in the rowing pairs in 2008 and eights in 2012, and has now
transferred to the 470 and committed to a Rio 2016 Olympic campaign.
Whilst Cook has all the required attributes of an elite athlete, until
late last year she didn't know how to sail, although you would never
guess it the way they performed today to end race day 4 in 13th overall.

"Each race is a learning experience," explained Rechichi. "We are still
learning and problem solving and there are issues which are costing us a
lot of points. Yesterday we made some gains as we had been having a lot
of problems at the beginning of reaches and we were really losing a lot
of places very quickly, which was affecting our results a lot. So
yesterday after racing we did some training and established a process to
resolve that. Sarah was getting stuck going out and we were missing that
opportunity to get the jump on the reach and everyone was coming over
the top. Today, not only did we not get it wrong, but we actually gained
a couple of slots. We have all the elements to put out top 5 results and
now we just need to bring it all together to be in and amongst it."

The 470 Women's fleet is fielding two Asian teams, from Malaysia and
Myanmar, and today was a real show of potential for Myanmar's Suu Myat
Soe/Nan Khan Say who claimed a 21st in race 8, easily their best score
of the series.

Racing for the 470 Women is scheduled to start at 1320 hours with two
races planned.

470 Women Overall
1. Camille Lecointre/Mathilde Geron (FRA) - 24 pts
2. Lara Vadlau/Jolanta Ogar (AUT) - 24 pts
3. Jo Aleh/Polly Powrie (NZL) - 26 pts
4. Sophie Weguelin/Eilidh Mcintyre (GBR) - 39 pts
5. Annina Wagner/Elisabeth Panuschka (GER) - 49pts
6. Agnieszka Skrzypulec/Natalia Wojcik (POL) - 54 pts
7. Cassandre Blandin/Charlotte Mery De Bellegarde (FRA) - 60 pts
8. Anne Haeger/Briana Provancha (USA) - 68 pts
9. Alisa Kirilyuk/Liudmila Dmitrieva (RUS) - 78 pts
10. Michelle Broekhuizen/Marieke Jongens (NED) - 82 pts

Tomorrow the teams in with a chance of advancing to the 8 boat Medal
Stage will be focused on achieving that goal. The European Championship
titles in both 470 Men and 470 Women fleets are there for the taking,
and whilst ahead of the 470 Europeans it seemed there were some clear
favourites, figuring the final top three at this stage is as hard as
guessing the top eight who will qualify to the Medal Stage.

Two races are scheduled for all fleets on Thursday 13 June, with racing
for the 470 Men Gold fleet at 1300 hours, 470 Men Silver at 1310 hours
and 470 Women at 1320 hours, with 2 races planned for all.

The 470 European Championships is open to all nations, but only teams
from Europe are eligible to be awarded the European Championship title
and medals. Open European Championship prizes will also be awarded.

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