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International 14 European Championship at Flensburger Segel-Club

by Rob Struckett 12 Jul 13:11 BST

43 boats from 6 nations gathered for the International 14 European Championships in Flensburg, Germany. The term "champagne sailing" gets banded around a lot these days, but that's what greeted the early birds who went for a practice sail on 29 & 30 June. The heat wave that had gripped Europe was welcome warmth on the Baltic Coast of Germany. The breeze was up and sailors were able to explore the beautiful coastlines from both Danish and German waters.

Come race day, the weather gods weren't so kind. The traditional Bastardo Trophy race was announced (an 11km each-way race, started and finished right outside the marina entrance), considered, and then quickly dismissed as a 30 knot gust rattled through the dinghy park. Flensburg Sailing Club, our host for the week, made sure competitors could sample the local Flensburger beer instead, as well as some local rum provided at registration.

Day 1 of the Europeans brought more of the same: sitting in the shelter of the nearby headland we were hopeful we'd get out on the water, but a quick trip round the corner revealed an almost unbroken sea of white horses. Plenty of rumours circulated about how windy it was - 25 knots? 30? 40? - but most agreed that, in the gusts, it was boat-breaking weather and not sailing weather. Day 2 was much the same - racing was postponed until the afternoon and then duly canned as the latest squall came howling through.

The silver lining was that sailors were granted some further time to tinker with their boats and admire the various design and modifications introduced since the last Europeans. For those readers that don't know, there's nothing a 14-er likes more than a chance to do some boat work. Local hospitality shone through again with the post-race beers and sausages on offer despite none of us actually having done any sailing. The biggest news of the day, though, was that the British sailors banished decades of hurt with a 6-3 win over the Germans on the local football pitch.

All of this meant that the lay-day on Wednesday became a four-race gut-buster to get us back on track for an eight-race series. With the wind more North than West compared to previous days, it came straight across the channel. This meant the wind was all-over-the-place at the leeward mark and really-all-over-the-place at the windward mark. The "official" record of wind conditions was 7 to 21 knots, so naturally it paid to be in the 21 knots as much as possible.

In Race 1, local favourites Georg Borkenstein and Eike Dietrich powered to the win, while Julian Pearson and Richard Sheridan took Race 2, taking advantage of a huge left shift on the second beat. Archie Massey and Harvey Hillary got off to a fast start in their new Bieker-6 design, taking the win in Race 3 and leading overnight. Pre-regatta favourites Neale Jones and Ed Fitzgerald, who have been in great form back home, had a difficult start to the regatta and, although they led in all four races of the day, they were only able to convert the last one into a bullet.

Day 2 was a bit steadier, with the breeze coming down the channel from the West. Neale & Ed made the most of their superior boat speed, coming away with a 2,1 from the two races despite being a little over-eager on the start line in one of them. Archie & Harvey had an unfortunate trapeze wire breakage which threw them both simultaneously into the drink in race 5 and then another unfortunate incident in race 6, meaning that they dropped back significantly going into the last day.

Andy Shaw and Rob Struckett took "moment of the day" for their port flier, which helped pull them up into contention after some swimming on the first day. Dan Holman and Alex Knight were looking particularly quick and took Race 5, although sadly they were already out of contention overall after a disastrous first day (having retired from a race and been disqualified from another for rounding the leeward gate incorrectly).

The final two races held on the third and final day were in a much lighter breeze, from the shiftier Northerly direction. Neale & Ed were sat comfortably, needing only a top four result to win the event. Archie and Harvey were in danger of being dragged back into a four- or five-way battle for the podium between Andy Fitzgerald and Richard Dobson (on 21 points), Douglas Pattison and Mark Tait (22 points), Andy Shaw and Rob Struckett (22 points) and Georg and Eike (24 points) representing the German fleet.

In the end, Neale & Ed secured the win with a race to spare. Archie and Harvey made second their own with a comfortable 3,1 on the final day, meaning that only the bronze medal was left up for grabs. Georg & Eike didn't enjoy the lighter breeze as much and it was Douglas and Mark who edged out race 7, followed by Andy & Rob and then Andy & Rich, meaning that Douglas & Mark held a two point advantage over the other two pairings going into the last race. Andy & Rich were the ones to get off the start line cleanly and looked good after the first beat.

Despite having to do a penalty turn for hitting the pin end of the start line, Andy & Rob managed to pull back through the fleet and overtake Andy & Rich so it was all to play for going down the last run. Douglas & Mark, with starting problems of their own, could only managed a 9th, which allowed Andy & Rob to take 3rd overall. In the melee, Julian & Richard finished strongly to take sixth overall from Georg & Eike.

With Itchenor SC taking the top five positions at this event, they'll be hoping for more of the same when the fleet returns to this beautiful venue for the 2021 World Championships. The hosts laid on some wonderful evening events, ranging from a dinner at an upmarket hotel to fully grown men racing rafts and Optimists round the marina with blow-up "friends". In the 14 fleet, there's something for everyone.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4R5R6R7R8N.
1 GBR 1553Neale JONESEdward FITZGERALDISC‑4421212315
2 GBR 1563Archie MASSEYHarvey HILLARYISC2216‑763121
3 GBR 1544Andy SHAWRob STRUCKETTItchenor SC35‑174556533
4 GBR 1561Douglas PATTISONMark TAITItchenor5‑1175324935
5 GBR 1530Andy FITZGERALDRichard DOBSONItchenor SC733‑13447836
6 GBR 1548Julian PEARSONRichard SHERIDANNetley SC61127‑1475745
7 GER 28Georg BORKENSTEINEike DIETRICHWSCW1953614‑161149
8 GER 91Oliver VOSSEike EHRIGKYC96‑11281010651
9 GBR 1556Daniel HOLMANAlex KNIGHTNetley SC10DSQ4DNS131265
10 GER 221Stephan HEIMRobert SCHMIDTPBYC11861299‑131267
11 GBR 1557Katie NURTONTom BRACEWELLRYS871017‑242212480
12 GER 02Tobias MERKELJan‑Martin LÜHRSFYC121699‑251791082
13 GER 23Michel ELLEKlaas‑Lysander BAGINSKIFSC1610138131317‑1890
14 GER 254Dennis GEHRLEINLasse NIELANDTSLRV13‑1716101212151391
15 GER 9David SCHAFFTMaximilian JACOBSCU‑20138181111201596
16 GBR 1527Philip McDANELLLuke BOUGHTONItchenor191515DNS1081419100
17 GER 218Björn FRASCHOliver PETERGSC1419‑231415151816111
18 GER 85Martin KRAUSEWilli BREKENFELDERSVAG181419111718‑2624121
19 SUI 30Giona RENGGLISandro MANIYCAs23‑31202218211114129
20 GER 24Angela DENNINGERMoritz WISKEMANNDSC22221416161921‑23130
21 GER 202Lukas SAUERLANDGregor THIEMGSC‑312128202024817138
22 GBR 1531Andy PENMANChris WATSONItchenor151227DNS23162330146
23 GER 96Bettina MÖLLERJens KULENKAMOFFSsvh‑2618182121251925147
24 IRL 6Ricko TULKBanandrew McCDINGLEDONGRoyal Canadian Yacht Club21202515‑29232520149
25 GER 25Markus OSTERMAIRPhilipp SOLBRIGCYC332622DNF27262422180
26 GER 257Stefan LAHMERWolfgang ALBRECHTASVZR242821242830DNF31186
27 GBR 1554Peter CROCKFORDTom STACPOOLERestronguet Sailing club17DNFDNSDNS19202221187
28 GER 210Sören HESSERuth HESSEASVIK282324DNF26273128187
29 AUS 666Miriam DENNINGERFabio PFISTERERSTSG‑3427262331283027192
30 GBR 1529Robin PASCALMartin PASCALUK2524DNS19223135DNF200
31 GER 7Marten LAURobert HERBSTASVZR2729DNSDNS30292726212
32 GER 49Flora PREISINGERJoel PREISINGERSVAG32DNF292533333434220
33 GER 241Sascha BERGERJan‑Christian WITTEBSC3025DNSDNS35322929224
36 ITA 1488Dominic van ESSENSimona SACCANIItchenor sailing clubDNFDNSDNSDNS34DNS3337280

Update to the UK ranking after the Europeans:

The battle for podium positions is hotting up - with six boats in touch there is everything to play for.

Neale Jones + Ed FitzGerald391
Andy FitzGerald & Rich Dobson230
Andy Shaw + Rob Struckett213
Douglas Pattison + Mark Tait209
Archie Massey & Harvey Hillary198
Julian Pearson172
Andy Partington + Tom Partington147
Dan Holman & Alex Knight145
Katie Nurton138
Robin Pascal & Martin Pascal91
Kimball Morrison + Jeremy Fowke90

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