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Hansa European Championships at Meze, France

by David Durston 3 Nov 2017 19:40 GMT 21-27 October 2017
Hansa Europeans at Meze, France © Nicola Durston

The European Championships were held in Meze, France from the 21st to the 27th of October. A British team ventured over, consisting of 8 Libertys, 6 Hansa 303 singles, and 1 Hansa 2.3. Our team of 15 were supported by an amazing team of 20 volunteers and family members, who made it all possible.

The Championship was an open event, so our sailors have varying degrees of disability, and different needs on and off the water; some sailors from other countries had no disabilities. Also the RYA provided the support of Brett Cokayne as coach for the event. He was promised a RIB, but had to make do with a wooden fishing boat for the duration.

Conditions over the week varied considerably, making it difficult to complete the scheduled 10 races for each class. The Libertys were able to complete 7 races, the 303 singles and 2.3s were only able to manage 5, and the 303 two-person had 6. Monday and Friday had too much wind and strong gusts to complete all races. Tuesday morning and Thursday mornings were too light to race, but built marginally in the afternoons to enable some races to be run. Wednesday was the opposite, with racing in the morning and disruption again in the afternoon.

In the Liberty fleet of 17 boats, the first race delivered the same positions as the results for the whole event. Bob Schahinger from Australia in 1st place, Vera Voorbach from the Netherlands in 2nd, and David Durston from Whitefriars SC in GB finishing 3rd. This however didn't tell the whole story; Pat Crowley from Rutland (representing Ireland) achieved three podium positions, and three other GB sailors also had a top three result. By the last race the GB team had found their sea legs, and came in 1, 2, 3, 4: Chris Emmett, Tess Watkiss, David Durston, and Paul Phillips. In the final results, this meant that 5 of the top 7 places were taken by GB. It was good to see was that although the winner was able-bodied, sailors who require servo assistance can be competitive: Vera relies on servo controls to steer and to control the sails, and David needs servo just for the sails.

The 2.3 fleet was competed by only 5 entrants, following an unfortunate withdrawal of some sailors who had been involved in an accident. However, the competition was fierce, with the field containing some of the best 2.3 sailors in the world. GB was represented by our National Champion, Lindsay Burns. The first two races were fought hard, but the rough conditions and a dislocated shoulder in the second race, left Lindsay with two fifth places. It wasn't until the Thursday that conditions enabled the 2.3s to race again. In the light shifty winds Lindsay loves she annihilated the opposition, gaining three 1st places. Unfortunately it wasn't quite enough, but she finished in a very credible 2nd place. Andre Bento and Fernando Pinto of Portugal finishing in 1st and 3rd place respectively.

Margaret Foreman from Frensham Pond battled to achieve a third place out of 39 boats in the first race on Monday in the 303 single class. This class has become very popular since it has been selected as a Para World Sailing class. Unfortunately there were only five races completed for this class over the week, and with the lighter winds Margaret dropped to 12th overall. Fresh from his 2nd place at the European Para Youth games, Rory McKinna put in a good performance to finish 19th in the largest fleet he'd sailed. New to sailing and in chartered boats with borrowed sails, two other Scotsmen made the long journey south to take part; Craig Holland finished 26th and Phil Reoch 38th. The honours in this class were taken by Piotre Cochoki of Poland 1st, Simon Berthelot and Cecile Vanuat of France finishing 2nd and 3rd.

GB had no representation in the 303 two-person class which had 37 entries. This class was completely dominated by the French who took all the podium places: 1st – Ange Margaron/Raphael Bizieux, 2nd – Cecile Venuat/Celine Desmat, 3rd – Olivier Decruix/Gilles Guyon. All results can be found at hvse.ffvoile.fr/hvse2017/championnat-d'europe/resultats.aspx

Well done to everyone involved! Now the preparation and fundraising starts to enable a team to participate in the World Championships in Hiroshima, October 2018.

Any support would be gratefully received, mydonate.bt.com/charities/hansaclassuk

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