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CoastWaterSports 2014

420 Junior Europeans at Lake Balaton - Qualifying Series

by Tony Mapplebeck 16 Aug 2009 20:09 BST

Greece leads the Qualifiers at 420 Junior Europeans on Lake Balaton

Teams from over 30 nations have come to Balatonfüred on Lake Balaton in Hungary for the 2009 420 and 470 Junior Europeans. Following the precedent set in 2006 at Tavira, the two Classes hold their annual Junior European Championships together. For the 420 Class, this was a ‘short hike’ from last week’s World Championships at Riva del Garda. The World Champions are here in their 420, but the World Ladies’ Silver Medallists and 2008 Junior European 420 Ladies’ Champions have decided to race the 470.

In spite of a reputation for light winds, Lake Balaton has provided the Qualifying flights with some challenging sailing, often with relatively strong winds and the need for careful observation to read the shifts. The first day’s racing brought generally light winds, 5 - 8 knots from the south and south east, and, while the 470 course managed two races and even flew Oscar for a while, the 420s second race had to be abandoned (frustrating for the boats that were BFD after a general recall and would not be able to race in the first race of the second day). Two GBR helms took a light hearted view of the day, “fresh to frightening” said one (with tongue in cheek), while the other commented, “no pancakes on Lay Day”, as it became apparent that the day would be needed for additional racing. The second day, following a lightning storm in the night, brought stronger winds and some challenging racing, requiring close watching for the shifts and good tactical choices. Three races were completed, including the outstanding race abandoned on Day 1. On the final day of the Qualifier Series, in place of the planned Lay Day, the 420 flights had two further rounds of races to complete a full series.

The leader board at the end has two teams ahead of the field with a gap of 14 points from their nearest rivals. Andreas & Alexandros Baktsias of Greece were in 1st (13 points) and Gabriel Skoczek & Thibault Soler of France in 2nd (14), while Yoav Levi & Dan Froyliche (ISR) and Antonios Tsimpoukelis & George Karonis (GRE), the previous overnight leaders, were both on 23 points. At the end of the day, which had seen ups and downs in many teams’ fortunes as they sought Final Fleet places, Rebecca Kalderon & Rosie Sibthorp (GBR) were the leading women’s team, in 15th overall.

Over the three days, we had met up with many of the sailors in the boat park.

Crew George Karonis (GRE), who with helm, Antonios Tsimpoukelis, were crowned 420 World Champions 2009 at Riva del Garda last week, was quite relaxed about their fellow-countrymen’s success in the Qualifiers, “they are our friends”. Speaking of the conditions on the second day (this serious young man again having to fend off the mischievous interventions of his helm, as he had at Riva), he said, “the wind today had little changes, shifts?….very, very shifty….it was very hard sailing”.

The same day, Bernard Kay, crew of the Hong Kong team with Ming-hin Leung, commented, “good wind, stronger. A small storm was very good, Oscar allowed pumping, OK! In the second race though, we took the port side and lost the fleet”.

Third overall are Yoav Levi & Dan Froyliche of Israel. Yoav said of day 2, “we had a good day!”, then stopped to ask who was asking and why! Thinking he might have been told not to speak to strangers (!), we offered to conduct the interview with his coach present, but no, once he established that his comments might appear on the internet, he exclaimed “I love my Mum”. On cue, crew Dan Froyliche rocked up, “I love my Mum too!…..OK, we will do good so we can have baguettes with schnitzel when we get home!”. So much for their priorities…. but we got back to the sailing. It had been a challenging day, with stronger, but shifty winds. ”I have a good watcher” said Loav of his crew….”oh, I have a great helm”, chimes in Dan. All this mutual admiration is getting too much, so we say goodbye for today to these keen sailors from the Sailing Club of Kibbutz Sdot Yam, between Haifa and Tel Aviv.

Sacha Pelisson & Nicolas Rossi, who completed the Qualifiers in sixth, were easy to find in their distinctive blue French team gear this year. “We had firsts in the first and last (on day 2), but a ninth in the middle….lots of shifts and pressure, because of the clouds…..but a good day!”.

And just in time, before they skipped off to prepare for the evening party, Elia Borrego & Nora Brugman, Spain’s women’s entry in the Volvo ISAF Youth Worlds 2009 in Brazil, were (briefly) bemoaning an OCS in the first race of the day, but pleased with a 7,1 to follow. Elia confirmed the picture of the wind conditions, “not stable, very gusty, Nora had to watch well”, “very difficult, shifty”, confirmed Ms Brugman, with half an eye on a quick exit from the boat park and the evening’s fun!

Eventually, we managed to find Andreas & Alexandros Baktsias among the melee of boats waiting to launch on the final day of the Qualifiers – we were attracted by the large gathering around them. It seems that they have a full family support, as well as other team colleagues, and the leader is evidently their Optimist-sailing little sister, Susanna, who with brother Frank, evidently expected to share the limelight with their big brothers. It seems that home club, the Nautical Club of Tzitzifies-Kallithea (NOTK), venue for last year’s World Championships in Athens, is into ‘succession planning’ (another Optimist sailor is on the way to the 420!). Alexandros said, “I like the weather (here) because there is a lot of change. Always with strong winds, we take wind from other boats”. They had had only one race below a 2nd (!) in F1, “not so good, unlucky….so this makes us more determined!”. Helm Andreas joined in, “I like these crazy shifts!”.

Gabriel Skoczek, an experienced 420 campaigner (Gabriel and Thibault Soler of YC Mauglio Carnon were fourth at the 2007 Junior Europeans in Medemblik in 2007), admitted he was pretty tired as he set about preparing himself for the Final Series. “It is very shifty here on Balaton Lake, strong and light. I like this weather. It is like the sailing back home in Montpellier. The waves are short, difficult. Yes, we are pleased (with the Qualifiers), all 1s and 3s!”.

We also caught up with the leading women’s team, Rebecca Kalderon & Rosie Sibthorp. “It has gone well”, said Becca, “with the Qualifier races counting in the Finals, we had to find solid scores. There has been a surprising amount of wind….none in the training days beforehand. It is very shifty, like the Meltemi in Athens (maybe that is why the Greeks seem to be doing so well, we wondered), but the water here, milky, is harder (to read)”. Rosie reflected on their summer, “we’re pretty tired with our programme of events….Kiel, Buzios for the ISAF Youths, Garda and now here. It was hard to go to Garda after all the preparation and focus for Brazil; we trained for Brazil and did not really have a game plan for the Worlds”.

We also caught up with the leading women’s team, Rebecca Kalderon & Rosie Sibthorp. “It has gone well”, said Becca, “with the Qualifier races counting in the Finals, we had to find solid scores. There has been a surprising amount of wind….none in the training days beforehand. It is very shifty, like the Meltemi in Athens (maybe that is why the Greeks seem to be doing so well, we wondered), but the water here, milky, is harder (to read)”. Rosie reflected on their summer, “we’re pretty tired with our programme of events….Kiel, Buzios for the ISAF Youths, Garda and now here. It was hard to go to Garda after all the preparation and focus for Brazil; we trained for Brazil and did not really have a game plan for the Worlds”.

The girls spoke of their experience at the Volvo ISAF Youth Worlds. It was “amazing….the place, the accommodation, everything done for you, the sailing was amazing and NO PARENTS! It was really nice that the emphasis was upon team spirit and supporting each other…..a lot of friends”, the words spilled out from both of them, confirming the picture of the ISAF Worlds-experience reiterated to us by their rivals on the water, again and again, when we have met the guys at the 420 Worlds in Riva and here at the Junior Europeans on Balaton.

Earlier in the event, we had a chance to track down the team from South Africa (they have very friendly relations with the Hungarian team and were launching from a different harbour just along the Lake). These guys, from the Izivunguvungu School of Sailing in Simon’s Town, just behind Table Mountain from Cape Town, have come to the Championships as a result of a special effort and motivation, particularly from their mentor and coach, Ian Ainslie. With financial support to cover their air fares from the Hungarian company, Team Proximo and through the initiative and leadership of Ian Ainslie, RSAs Olympic Finn sailor at the Barcelona, Atlanta and Sydney Olympics, the two guys made it to Balaton.

Asenathi Jim & Ashwyn Daniels are both helms, but teamed up after Ashwyn narrowly missed out on selection for the ISAF Youths Selectikon and Asinathi’s regular crew was too old to enter the Junior Europeans. They had finished the first day fifth in their flight, but, when we met up, were mainly worrying about the implications of their BFD in the second, abandoned race which would mean that they had to sit out the first race on Day 2. But their focus was evident as Asenathi spoke of the different conditions here in Balaton from those in the Cape. At home, the sailing is with wind; they have never experienced the light-wind sailing that they are finding here. Having had the opportunity for some training on Lake Balaton before the event and participating in the ‘Balaton Open’ that had preceded the Championships, they had begun to get the hang of things, it seems, and were clearly determined to make a competitive showing here. We promised to catch up again later to learn more about the development of youth sailing and the 420 in South Africa. We left the guys in deep conversation with the Honk Kong coach about settings, body weighting and sail trims in light winds… these guys are determined to learn all they can from their experience.

Top Qualifier Series Results:

1 Andreas & Alexandros Bakatsias (GRE) 8pts
2 Gabriel Skoczek & Thibault Soler (FRA) 9pts
3 Yoav Levi & Dan Froyliche (ISR) 23pts
4 Antonios Tsimpoukelis & George Karonis (GRE) 23pts
5 Dominik Grams & Gergely Petrahai (HUN) 24pts
6 Sacha Pelisson & Nicolas Rossi (FRA) 26pts
7 Julian Stueckl & Adrian Hoesch (GER) 34pts
8 Matteo Capurro & Gianmauro Balanzoni (ITA) 35pts
9 Lara Vadlau & Rudi Weiss (AUT) 36pts
10 Jacopo Cunial & Michelle Inchiostri (ITA) 41pts
11 Francesco Falcetelli & Gabrielle Franciolini (ITA) 41pts
12 Domonikos Rosznyay & Jonatan Czeizel (HUN) 41pts
13 Matt Rainback & Simon Foskett (GBR) 43pts
14 Ben Palmer & Konrad Weaver (GBR) 43pts
15 Rebecca Kalderon & Rosie Sibthorp (GBR) 43pts

More details on the 420 class website and also the Hungarian Yachting Association website.

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