Welcome to the home of sports – Athens, the capital city of Greece - for the ultimate day of the 2014 Open 470 European Championships. After 5 days of intense races in stunning sailing conditions, today the championship closed in to the critical double-points Medal Race to finalize the podium line-up for the Open European and European Championship titles.
A nail-biting final was set to unfold – with the top 10 470 Men and 470 Women’s teams set to face off – as they challenged for podium places in the windward/leeward races. The day opened with the 470 women fleet, where the battle for the European Championship title was just between two teams – Austria’s Lara Vadlau/Jola Ogar and Great Britain’s Hannah Mills/Saskia Clark. The Austrians carried an 11 point advantage, so it would be a big ask for the British to knock them off the top spot. With a storm looming, the wind picked up and it became a crucial call to choose the best side on the first upwind leg – a call the Dutch executed perfectly.
The Austrian pair knew a conservative performance was all that they needed, and after rounding the first mark in 7th, upped to 5th by the downwind leg, and held on until the finish to secure gold. The pair has secured their first ever 470 Championship title – after an awesome performance of first class racing each day of the European Championship. Just behind them the British pair of Mills and Clark had European Championship silver in the bag, but were pushing to finish ahead of New Zealand’s Jo Aleh/Polly Powrie on the Open Europeans leaderboard. Disaster for the Kiwis after a capsize at the downwind gate saw them lagging way behind the fleet to finish the medal race in last place and finish third on the Open Europeans leaderboard. Slovenia’s Tina Mrak and Veronika Macarol secured the European Championship bronze medal. But the performance of the day belonged to Afrodite Kyranakou and Anneloes Van Veen from Netherlands who set the pace from the beginning of the Medal Race and walked off with a solid victory.
In 470 men fleet, the fleet leapt off the start line, with Croatia’s Sime Fantela/Igor Marenic starting too early. Realizing their mistake, the pair quickly restarted. Conditions were tricky with big shifts, so no easy or predictable racing. In a class of their own at the front, were Austria’s Matthias Schmid and Florian Reichstaedter who drew on every ounce of their 13 year partnership to execute a perfect start and lead the race from start to finish. A Medal Race win in the bag for them guaranteed European Championship silver medal.
So the battle was on for the bronze medal, between Fantela/Marenic and Finland’s Joonas Lindgren/Niklas Lindgren. The British team of Luke Patience and Elliot Willis were already indisputable winners, having secured the 2014 European Championship title ahead of the medal race. To claim the Open European Championship title too, all they had to do was chase away Australian’s Mathew Belcher and Will Ryan – and fulfil their quest to break the Australian’s domination in the 470 class. Belcher & Ryan however, had other plans. To guarantee their Open European Championship victory, the Australians hunted out the British and controlled them further back in the fleet during the final stage of the race. Croatia’s Fantela and Marenic had a great performance, finishing third to secure their bronze medal.
Another great event came to an end with the 2014 European Champions crowned. Now all the teams are turning their focus to the Test Event for the 2016 Olympic Games and the ISAF Worlds in September in Spain.