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Team GBR at the 29er Europeans on Lake Garda

by Sam Jones 1 Nov 2021 12:47 GMT 23-27 October 2021
Zhik 29er Europeans on Lake Garda © Zhik 2021 29er Euros / FVR / ZGN

Two hundred 29er teams from around the world made the trip to Garda for the 2021 European Championships, with 21 GBR boats in the mix. Boats arrived throughout the week before for some pre-event training, causing the boat park to slowly fill up so much that it was difficult to move by the time everyone had arrived.

The training on the few days before racing was key to learning about the venue, and potential gains to be made. A few highlights from the training include: 2507 Katy Jenkins and Amelie Hiscocks forgetting their bung and almost having a Titanic like experience, Freddie Westwell had arrived in Garda however crew Freddie Lonsdale couldn't make it for the training so Rachael Jenkins took a break from updating the class social media pages and stepped in to join the Youth Squad, a very fast combination and word on the street is that Freddie Westwell wants to make this a permanent change. Youth Squad Coach Crispin Beaumont discovered the importance of putting fuel in a rib while towing in some of the Youth Squad boats, and had to call Head Coach Tom Walker to come and tow them in.

Day 1 of racing saw 2 GBR boats inside the top 10, 2966 Leo Wilkinson and Sam Jones 2nd overall and 3081 Olly Peters and Ben Bradley in 7th with these 2 boats coming 1st and 2nd in race 2. 3079 Annabelle Vines and Raulf Berry got a 3rd in race 1, but an unfortunate race 2 pushed them down the overall rankings. A good day for the British Team, with multiple teams getting some top 5 results.

On day 2 a full schedule of 3 races was completed. Race 3 was completed in light winds with the breeze slowly increasing throughout race 4, and race 5 was completed in 12-15 knots and chop. It became apparent very early on that it was important to get over to the right of the course, and even sailing an extra 30 seconds towards the left could cost a lot. GBR didn't perform quite as well, with no boats inside the top 20. However the points were extremely close overall, with about 25 points separating the top 50.

Day 3 was the final day of qualifying, with slightly more wind GBR was looking forward to a good day on the water. The gain on the right was clear again, and getting a good start and heading out to the right hand side was the key to winning races. A solid day for team GBR with 6 boats qualifying for Gold Fleet, 4 boats in silver fleet, 7 boats in bronze fleet and 4 boats in emerald fleet. HUN 2759 was leading, DEN 3 in 2nd and ITA 2935 in 3rd. Leo and Sam qualified 1st GBR boat in 11th place, with Olly and Ben in 24th, and Santi and George in 29th. Ben Mueller and Sam Webb would almost certainly be right up the top if their kite halyard hadn't broken just after coming round the top mark in 3rd. Position was carried through to the final series, so realistically anyone in Gold fleet could still get on the podium.

Day 4 (first day of final series) was a very difficult day. The right gain became apparent early on, but it was key to hit the cliffs in the right place to maximise the gain. Very few teams were able to stay consistent all day due to the conditions and the fact that gold fleet racing was so tight. Leo and Sam had a shocking day, dropping from 11th and first GBR boat to 41st and last GBR boat in Gold fleet, a day they will be having nightmares about for years to come. GBR 12 Ben Mueller and Sam Webb found some new pace in the final series and climbed to 22nd overall after a fairly consistent day. Olly Peters and Ben Bradley maintained their position as 2nd GBR boat but dropped down the overall ranking slightly.

Over in Silver fleet, 2433 Jamie Wilkinson and Jamie Gatehouse had climbed up the leaderboard and were looking at a podium position overall, with James Crossley and Noah Fitzgerald not far behind. Bronze fleet saw Monique Vennis-Ozzane and Will De Jaeger close to the top in 4th place, with Katy Jenkins and Amelie Hiscocks close behind in 7th. In Emerald Fleet Ella Lightbody and Felicity Brellisford were looking strong in 2nd Place.

On the final day of racing the race committee got us up early for a 7:50 launch to make the most of the wind, so the fleet got an early night to prepare for some windy racing. Freddie Westwell and Freddie Lonsdale along with Leo Wilkinson and Sam Jones and some other of the heavier teams were very excited to use their mass to their advantage after months of light wind racing. As the fleet sailed down to the course the breeze increased the further down the lake you went. The wind could only be described as perfect, a beautiful "fresh 12". However, despite the marvelous conditions, the race committee were struggling to lay the marks and decided to send the fleet in and wait until the wind dropped, to say the aforementioned teams were disappointed is an understatement. After some waiting around on the shore, Gold and Silver were sent out for 1 race in around 15 knots, which was very patchy and difficult to get right. Bronze and Emerald also went out, but the wind had completely switched off by then and no racing was completed.

Overall a great event with some good sailing and lots learnt by all. Thanks to everyone involved in making the event happen and helping it run smoothly. Also a huge shout out to Jubby for getting the boats out there.

Top 3 overall were DEN 3 Jens-Christian Dehn-Toftehoj in 1st, FRA 9 Keo Devaux and Enael Rio in 2nd, and DEN 21 Gustav Asholm-Bradley and Hellerup Sejlklub in 3rd.

Top 3 GBR boats were GBR 12 Ben Mueller and Sam Webb in 22nd, GBR 3081 Olly Peters and Ben Bradley in 30th, and GBR 2966 Leo Wilkinson and Sam Jones in 32nd (tied on points with GBR 2694 Charlie Gran and Cameron Sword)

Top GBR boats in the other fleets were: GBR 2433 Jamie Wilkinson and Jamie Gatehouse who were 2nd in Silver fleet, GBR 2121 Monique Vennis-Ozzane and Will De Jaeger who were 4th in Bronze fleet, and GBR 2493 Ella Lightbody and Felicity Brellisford who were 2nd in Emerald Fleet.

Full results and more information at www.29ereuropeans.org

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