Two medal races, sailed in perfect Mediterranean conditions, wrapped up the 470 European Championship, organised by local Yacht Club Sanremo and Marina degli Aregai, in co-operation with the national and international 470 class.
At the eve of the grand finale, both the men’s and the women’s top ten standings were so close to give everyone a chance to grab a medal, adding expectation to the mix.
Despite some hours’ waiting, shortly before 2 p.m. the wind set and enabled the Race Committee to launch the medal races on windward/leeward course, that were concluded in less than half an hour.
Ladies kicked-off first, in a nice westerly wind, with an intense start. France’s Camille Lecointre and Aloise Retornaz took the lead, carefully covering their closest rivals Afrodite Zegers/Lobke Berkhout from the Netherlands and Poland’s Agnieszka Skrzypulec and Jolanta Ogar, with British Hannah Millsand Eilidh McIntyre trying to get free from the mid of the pack. Behind the French team - bronze medalists in Rio 2016 - who rounded all the marks in first, the fight for the double-points medal race flared up, with the Dutch and the Polish swapping places. Closing in second and in third was not enough for the Skrzypulec/Ogar duo and Germany’s Nadine Boehm/Ann-Christin Goliassto reach the podium, while with a fourth and fifth respectively for Mills/McIntyre and Zegers/Berkhout guaranteed silver and bronze to the much-decorated female duos. “The medal race was tough, especially the start, but very exciting.” said helm Camille Lecointre. “We needed to sail well and think about our race. We only needed to keep an eye on the competition on the second lap. We’re very happy.”
Shortly after the women’s celebrations on the water, the Race Committee launched the starting procedure for the men, where the scoreboard was even closer, with all the ten crews having a chance to jump on the podium. Australians Mathew Belcher and Will Ryan entered the medal race with a five-points lead on the reigning champions Anton Dahlberg and Fredrik Bergstromfrom Sweden, with Spain’s Jordi Xammar/Nicolas Rodriguez and Greeks Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis, all at short distance from the top and all serious contenders to the medals. As the wind had picked up a bit, the start was very tense and heated with the Swedes pushing hard from the pin end of the line and the Austrians David Bargher/Lukas Maehr ended up with a penalty.
On the first windward mark a collision between the Austrians and the Greeks resulted in a penalty for Mantis/Kagialis too, forcing the bronze medalists in Rio 2016 out of competition for the top spots, with New Zealanders Paul Snow-Hansen/Daniel Willcox showing excellent speed and guarding their second place to the finish line. The Australians and the Kiwis closed the match in first and second place respectively, with French pair Kevin Peponnet/Jérémie Mion in third, realising the best comeback of the group. A fifth place guaranteed Dahlberg/Bergstrom their second consecutive European title with Xammar/Rodriguez getting a seventh and securing silver, while bronze went to the French duo.
“It’s amazing!” said the Swedish sailors, just after crossing the finish line. “It was a very tough race, everything was there to grab. We had to keep focused all the time. It’s been a very challenging week and we are super happy!”
Podiums 470 European Championship
Gold - Camille Lecointre/Aloise Retornaz - FRA
Silver - Hannah Mills/Eilidh McIntyre - GBR
Bronze - Afrodite Zegers/Lobke Berkhout - NED
1st - Mathew Belcher/Will Ryan - AUS
2nd - Anton Dahlberg/Fredrik Bergstrom - SWE
3rd - Paul Snow-Hansen/Daniel Willcox - NZL
Gold - Anton Dahlberg/Fredrik Bergstrom - SWE
Silver - Jordi Xammar/Nicolas Rodriguez - ESP
Bronze - Kevin Peponnet/Jérémie Mion - FRA