49er European Champion Peter Greenhalgh 

more features

Peter Greenhalgh and Chris Draper launched their 2012 49er campaign in March 2009 after both men had spent time away from the Olympic Classes scene concentrating on other forms of sail racing. In early July the pair clinched their first major title together at the 49er Europeans in Poland, adding to the silver they won in Palma in March. They are now preparing for Skandia Sail for Gold.

“Consistency seems to win regattas.”

That was the verdict of Peter Greenhalgh after he and Chris Draper had wrapped up their first European Championship together as a pairing. Having opened their Europeans account with a 20th in Poland, the pair went on to perform with a fluency and consistency that saw them control the rest of the series and sit atop the leaderboard with the final day looming.

A penultimate race blip – where the decision to pursue a high risk attacking start didn’t quite pay off as hoped as they got stranded on the wrong side of the course coming home in 18th – only served to focus their minds further on what they needed to do to take gold.  And with a six-point advantage over their nearest challengers heading into the double points medal race, a third saw Greenhalgh and Draper land the crown. Greenhalgh explains:

“We sailed the medal race really well, I really enjoyed it. After the penultimate race, it became a case of re-setting and approaching the medal race in the right way. We knew we still didn’t have to do as well as some of the other guys in the medal race to win gold and that if we ideally finished around fourth we would be ok. Then we broke it down to knowing exactly what we would have to do at the start and around the race course to make that happen".

"I knew the whole way round where we were in relation to other crews and where that left us overall and I was able to relay that to Chris so that he knew there was no need to make potentially risky, attacking moves on certain boats".

The Europeans were only Greenhalgh and Draper’s fourth regatta of the year, the pair having finished sixth at the Worlds in the Bahamas in January and then taking silver at Palma in March before taking a bit of time out from their campaign as Draper became a father for the first time.They returned to action at Kiel in June, finishing just outside the medals in fourth before hitting form in Poland. Not that they were necessarily gunning for gold from the outset Greenhalgh insists.

"We didn’t go to the Europeans expecting to get a gold medal; all we wanted to do was sail well and to our full potential in every race and see where that took us. We certainly sailed very well at times and definitely didn’t at others. We have approached all our regattas race by run and trying to sail consistently well throughout the regatta, but we know there are going to be times when we sail poor races and sometimes you’re going to have three or four poor races in a row. It is how you re-set after that and effectively get back on the horse that is the important thing".

With Skandia Sail for Gold seen as a key event for many of the international racing fraternity this year, being just two years out from London 2012, Greenhalgh admits that Sail for Gold has equal billing alongside the Europeans as he and Draper’s priority events for the season.However, with Draper stating an Olympic campaign "is a marathon not a sprint" post-Poland, Greenhalgh says that consistency will be once again be their key focus for the event.

"Being fast across the course and trying not to have any weak areas is what we try to focus on at every regatta we compete at,” he added. “Sail for Gold is all about going and enjoying our racing; producing a consistent performance and putting into practice lessons we learned at the Worlds, in Palma and Kiel and at the Europeans and moving our campaign slowly forward once again".