British men come out on top after a mixed first day at 470 Europeans in Largs
Challenging conditions to kick off 470 Europeans in Largs
If competitors and organisers of the 470 European Championships were looking for a day one test then they weren’t disappointed on Thursday at Largs.
It was an opening day that contained at least two seasons of Scottish weather, with the men’s event having to be raced on two different courses to find the best of a changing wind.
Unsurprisingly perhaps, it was Scotland’s David Kohler, whose growing years were spent tackling conditions this same corner of the country, and his English helm Philip Sparks, who were most consistent. The pair finished the day first overall, after a fourth in the opening race and a first in the second.
“It was very variable today, starting off with a very light breeze that gradually filled in,” said Kohler with a hint of understatement.
“Then there were some big shifts as the rain came in and there were 45 degree wind shifts. But we managed to get on the right side, more by luck than skill for some of them, and got a fourth and first.
“We got a couple of good races that we certainly would have been happy with at the beginning of the day.”
Croatians Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic, reigning European Champions, had been the quickest to get to grips with the early afternoon conditions of race one, finishing first ahead of Swiss pair Yannick Brauchlie and Romuald Hausser.
But in race two, the men’s course now moved farther west to the windier shores off Bute, their eight place finish took them down to fourth for the day overall.
Skandia Team GBR's Ben Saxton and Richard Mason will start day two in third place overall, separated from Kohler and Sparks by the second placed Turkish crew, Deniz Cinar and Ates Cinar.
“Today was all about keeping your wits about you,” admitted Saxton afterwards. “At times things were looking great, and at others looking bad but it was all about keeping it going.
“For the first race we played it safe, maybe a little overly safe and finished with a third but that was fine.
“Then in the second race we had a cracking second beat for fifth place so we were happy with that. All in all a good experience and we would be very happy if we got a top three out of this event."
The girls competed just once today, racing being abandoned afterwards that first race. Britain’s Sophie Weguelin and Sophie Ainsworth emerged lie second on the overall table beneath Germany’s Annika Bochmann and Elisabeth Panuschka.
The next Brits on the overall table are fifth placed Katie Tomsett and Joanna Freeman. Nineteen year old Tomsett perhaps summed up perfectly a day which contained a bit of everything: “That was the hardest, weirdest and most fun race I’ve done in a long time.
“There were a lot of ups and downs today and people that were leading on the first mark went to the back.
“Our strategy was just to keep looking for that next band of pressure and it was a bit of a gamble situation but it was good.
“It is amazing being able to race at this kind of level of competition and the experience was second to none. To have the support of the coaches from the RYA is invaluable.”
The 470 Europeans is hosted by the Royal Yachting Association at Largs Sailing Club, and is supported by UK Sport, EventScotland, North Ayrshire Council, the Scottish Sailing Institute, sportscotland, the International 470 Class Association and RYA Scotland.
Racing continues until Wednesday 4 July. Full results and regatta information is available at www.470europeans2012.com