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 Fast Handling Technique by Frank Bethwaite

49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 European Championships 2021 at Thessalonikki, Greece - Day 2

by 49er & Nacra 17 Sailing 16 Sep 08:52 BST 14-19 September 2021
49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 European Championships 2021 at Thessalonikki, Greece - Day 2 © Nikos Pantis

Training partners step up

Most of the big names in 49er sailing are taking some well earned time off after Tokyo. As such, now is the time for the Paris potential stars to usurp the aging veterans.

Some names we might expect, like Tim Fischer with Fabian Graf (GER), who took the bronze medal at the 2018 worlds, are doing just that. They were modest in their assessment of the day, saying they got lucky with their upwind choices, but it was clear they were able to execute their plans on the downwinds. With the wind bending to left all day, they gybeset to dig into the persistent shift on the runs, and made passes all day long to score a 1, 2, 4 and move into second place on 35 points.

35 points is a popular total, with three more teams each sitting tied for second with the Germans. Mollerus and Macdiarmid (USA), who won the Alexander the Great regatta, are one of those teams aiming at Paris after the USA missed out on Tokyo. Then there are a pair of Tokyo training partners from Austria and Poland followed by another Polish team just one point back.

In seventh are a set of new names to the fleet from Spain, Martin Wizner with Pablo Garcia. The pair are just 20 and 21 and have moved themselves to Santander to train with the Spanish federation out of their sailing center. Sailing hard while attending university is quite a challenge, but well worth the effort. They scored a pair of third places finishes by starting well and hitting the left hard before falling back in the third race with a 14th.

Lukasz and Pawel from Poland continue to lead, as might be expected given their pedigree.

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Next generation take two wins from the British Nacra

Gianfranco Luigi (ITA) is a two time Junior World Champion, and today he took a race from Gimson and Burnet and moved into second place overall. Typically, he sails with Maria Gublei, but she fell injured just before the start of the regatta with a sore back, so in flew Alice Cialfi (ITA) as a substitute crew. As the two have never sailed together, there is much to learn, but it seems at times they are still getting things right and they managed to win the first race of the day.

Also winning the a race was the British pair of Rupert White with Kirtie Unwin. They were in second place up the final beat behind Gimson and Burnet when they tacked on lay line. White and Unwin continued beyond the lay line, and as the wind was turning left so far they took advantage of a great angle to overtake the silver medal pair, quite an achievement. Overall, they seemed to have a better day on day 2 after scoring a UFD on day one.

However, the Italians and young Brits also managed to tangle with each other in race two, ending up in the protest room for an incident at the windward mark. White end Unwin took the DSQ and end up shuffling all the way down to ninth overall, now with two letter scores.

Gimson and Burnet (GBR) continue to hold strong, winning the third race of the day while taking second in the other two races.

Milestones and drama on the FX course

Sailing late into the evening, the 49erFX fleet provided moments to remember and other moments that can't be forgotten. Two teams scored their first ever European Championship race wins, and two more sailors required medical attention from on water incidents.

The quiet and calm day was jolted from it's slumber in race two. At the windward mark, Odile Van Aanholt (NED) was helming from the wire during the set, when the boat behind and above was also hoisting did not keep clear. She ended up in their spinnaker as they came down over top of the Dutch boat. Quite suddenly and without precedent, the windward teams retrieval line, the rope that is used to pull back the spinnaker and is dead ended to the spinnaker, got wrapped around her neck. As the windward boat flattened, she was hoisted up in the air and was held upside down about two meters in the air by her neck for a brief moment. The boat capsized, removing the tension, and Odile freed herself in the water. It was a crazy incident for all involved, including the coach fleet that was close at hand, and rushed in to support in case it was necessary.

Odile ended up finishing the race, quite courageously, but was very traumatized both physically and mentally from the incident. Back at shore medical crews checked her status and she ended up heading to hospital for some further checks to ensure she was ok.

Her coach, Kaj Bocker commented, "I've never seen anything like it in all my years in sailing, it's the first time I've ever entered a race course to try and help out." He was on hand to comfort Odile and then filed a successful claim for redress for the pair who now sit in second overall.

Back on the race course, and up to fourth now overall, Mathilde Lovadina with Marine Riou (FRA) started the day with a win. Mathilde has been sailing the FX now for a few years, and has found a new crew in Marine explained, "we won the pin, headed left with good speed, and never looked back." That was a fairly standard playbook for the day.

Also with their first ever race win at Euros, and moving up in to sixth overall was the Canadian Lewen-Lefrance sisters, Georgia and Antonia. There are only two boats from Canada competing at the championship, and their 49er brother counterparts the Woods bothers, also had a milestone race with a second place finish in the day.

There was a second medical incident during a tiller extension exchange. The Russian team of Victoria Liksanova with Diana Sabirova found themselves needing to change tiller extensions after a failed tack. The crew pulled the old, broken extension off the tiller and ended up sticking the charred end into her helms leg. The sharp carbon strands caused a fairly deep cut and medical crews were needed to remove the splinters.

The Schulteis sisters (MLT) continue to lead after a deep score in the first race, which they drop, and then a second place finish to close the day.

The 49erFX fleet will be first to race on day 3, with four races on schedule to catch up for only doing two on day two. The wind came in a bit later on the day, and the 49erFX fleet were last onto the water, unable to do their third races as the light was fading into the night.

The bulk of the fleet here in Greece are new to Championship level Olympic racing. As such, we're seeing new stars emerge, new milestones achieved, but also a new set of learning for all involved.

Racing continues through to Sunday where medal races will conclude the 2021 European Championship from Thessaloniki. Scores, video, photos, and stories here.

Squad goals

Meanwhile, Saski Tidey (GBR) came to Greece just for the vacation.

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