Six Brits make 470 medal races at Largs
Sophies lead the 470 Euros fleet heading into medal races
Four British women’s and two men’s boats have made Wednesday’s medal races at the 470 European Championships in Largs.
Great Britain’s Sophie Weguelin and Sophie Ainsworth are in pole position for the grand finale, although their two point lead over Germany’s Annika Bochmann and Elisabeth Panuschka is a slender one. Behind the Germans by the same two point margin lie Slovenia’s Tina Mrak and Teja Cerne.
“Having a two point gap now on the boat behind us will make tomorrow fairly interesting,” said Ainsworth. “It will probably be between the top three of us who have a bit of a margin but anything could happen, especially if the racing is anything like today.”
In Tuesday’s final qualifying races the British pair finished thirteenth, which they discarded, and second.
“We didn’t have a great first race then we tried to come back and have a good second as we knew we had a fairly reasonable discard but we couldn’t afford to have a bad second,” said Ainsworth.
“It was tricky today with a persistent shift on the top left hand side, where there is generally more pressure and a lift.
“But you could take what was good numbers out to the right and constantly be lifting whilst the boats inside you have more pressure and are hefting more. That was our error in the first race. But we learnt from our mistakes.”
The Sophies are joined in the Medal race by fellow Skandia Team GBR sailors Joanna Freeman and Katie Tomsett in fifth spot. One place behind them are Scotland’s Anna Burnett and Flora Stewart. Amy Seabright and Eilidh McIntyre, who won yesterday’s race two, are tenth.
Whilst the battle for the women’s gold medal will be close run, the men’s title was decided yesterday. Croatians Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic made a successful defence of their Europeans crown in qualifying race 12.
With a 22 point advantage over the second placed team on Tuesday night, even if they finish last in the double-points Medal race, a position which would add 20 points to their scoreline, it is impossible for any team to catch them.
“This is really nice,” said Fantela. “It is our third European gold. We are happy, we work hard, we train hard and all our life is about sailing. We want to congratulate our coach, father, manager Edo, my father, and thank all of our families and friends who have supported us all these years.”
Very much contenders for the silver medal are second placed Brits Ben Saxton and Richard Mason. After what seems like a week of sparring with the Russian brothers Mikhail and Maxim Sheremetyev the home crew are back up to second place.
“We had a pretty good day,” said Mason afterwards. “We started each race pretty badly and finished quite nicely. We were deep around every single mark but managed to make some pretty good comebacks.
“At the start of the week we said we would have liked to medal, so tomorrow let’s just keep that medal on the cards.”
Fellow Britons David Kohler and Philip Sparks sit in fifth spot although they haven’t achieved sufficient points in the 12-race qualifying series to be in with the chance of medalling.
On another day of shifting winds the pair had their worst result of the week, misjudging the wind from the start and never recovering to finish twenty fourth. Race two was better although their fifth spot on the table puts them a significant eight points adrift of the fourth placed Greeks, Panagiotis Kampouridis and Efstathios Papadopoulos.
“It looks like fifth is the best we could hope for now as we are very unlikely to be able to catch the Greeks,” said Kohler afterwards.
“It has been a bit of a random day for the wind, and it could have been a very high scoring day for us. But we had an absolute shocker on the first run when we thought the wind was going to oscillate and shift left and right, but it actually just shifted left and we were on the right.
“So we ended up round the windward mark second last, tried to battle our way forward but struggled to get a clear lane and opportunity to pass. The second race was much better; we won the start off the right hand side and held.
“It is disappointing we won’t be in with a shout of the medals. But our aim at the start of the week was to get into the medal race and we have never done better than fourteenth at a European Championships so we would be happy with fifth.”
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 concludes Wednesday 4 July.
Full results and regatta information is available at www.470europeans2012.com