06 Aug 2009
470 Junior European Championships - Preview
470 Class Junior European Championships, Men/Mixed and Women
10-16 August 2009, Lake Balaton, Hungary
‘Favourite’ Status Sits on French and German Shoulders in Lake Balaton
Ninety-seven teams from 24 countries are preparing to contest the 470 Class Junior European Championships on Lake Balaton in Hungary, which starts next Monday in the lakeside resort of Balatonfured.
After a dominant performance at the 470 Class Junior World Championships which took place in Greece just a few weeks ago, the French team of Sofian BOUVET and Jeremie MION (FRA) start as one of the hot favourites in the 75-strong Men’s/Mixed division. Such was their dominant performance in Greece, they took the World title without even needing to sail the Medal Race. Whether or not they can get so far ahead of their rivals this time remains to be seen, however, as the Lake is known for producing very challenging conditions. BOUVET and MIONare expecting a higher scoring series this time. MIONsaid: “After what we did in the Junior Worlds, we think we can do well again, and maybe we can win. The Junior Europeans will be challenging because we are expecting very light winds. We have proved that we are good in the light so if we have good luck we can do well here too. However our main objective is the Senior 470 World Championship, and that’s why we are going to work hard in the Junior Europeans to be at our best level for the 470 World Championship.”
Ferdinand GERZ and Tobias BOLDUAN (GER) will be looking to go one better than Greece, where they finished runners-up to the French team in the Men’s/Mixed division. 470 Junior World’s Bronze medal winners, the Italian brothers Luca DUBBİNİ and Roberto DUBBİNİ, carry the added confidence - or pressure, depending on your point of view - of having won last year’s Junior European title in Croatia. Certainly the brothers are one of the most consistent performers on the junior circuit and will be in the running for a podium finish once more.
A number of teams from outside Europe are coming to take part in the regatta, notably from Singapore, Malaysia and the USA. But perhaps the leading threats to European dominance come from Argentina, the team of Sebastian PERI BRUSA and Santiago MASSERONI (ARG). They finished 7th at the recent Junior Worlds, but Brusa is hungry for a podium finish on Lake Balaton. “We expect to be on the podium. Obviously our minds are focused on winning the event, but being 2nd or 3rd would be fine also,” he said.
Despite not having achieved a podium finish in other major 470 events, BRUSA’s confidence is born out of a fine track record at youth level, including a bronze at the Optimist Worlds six years ago and also winning gold in the 420 at the 2006 ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships. “We have heard the conditions on Lake Balaton are very tricky and complicated so we will have to wait, at least, until the first few races have happened to see who is still in contention and have chances to be at the top at the end.”
With this year’s World gold and silver medallists from Spain and Israel not competing in Balatonfured, the strong German contingent must start as favourites in the 22-boat Women’s division. Annika BOCHMANN and Anika LORENZ (GER) are the defending European Champions and took bronze in Greece a few weeks ago, but they can expect some tough competition from compatriots Victoria JURCZOK and Josephine BACH (GER). This team learned a tough lesson in Thessaloniki after they were leading in the final Medal Race but sailed the wrong course, allowing the rest of the fleet to sweep past. That mistake cost them a silver and relegated them to 4th overall behind BOCHMANN and LORENZ, but it’s a painful lesson that will make them all the more determined to come out on top in the Europeans.
BOCHMANN has been training hard in the build-up to the regatta: “We are looking forward to racing the Junior European Championship at Lake Balaton and we are really motivated to win a medal and become the best German team. After one more week practising on the Baltic Sea with our Berlin Sailing Team we are well prepared for the event. We think that there will be difficult conditions so it will be hard to defend the title.”
Stephanie HUDSON from the USA will be competing in the Men’s/Mixed division. “I will be sailing the event with someone I have never sailed with before, Alex Sachs. That means we will be sailing in the Men’s/Mixed division, so I am unsure as to how we will compete. We hope that we will be able to overcome the lack of time together and develop quickly around any problems we may have. We are both still pretty new to the 470, having only sailed a few events and without much training time, but we both have a lot of experience in 420s. We have not really thought about winning, but we do not know how competitive we will be together and thus hope to adjust our goals after every day of sailing and see what we can accomplish in Balaton.”
The age limit for 470 Junior Championships is that competitors must be 21 years or under in the year of the regatta. Despite their young age, the level of competition will be higher than many senior events, and the sailors that do well at this level tend to move on to equally great success at senior and Olympic level.
Report credit: Sailing Intelligence