OLD SPANISH TEAMMATES HOLD TOP TWO PLACES13 Sep 2022
Day one of the 470 European Championships launched with a bang. The first day of qualifying was a big test as the strong northerly wind got stronger throughout the day.
With old teams from Tokyo 2020 forced to form new alliances in the new era of 470 Mixed competition, the men’s 470 Olympic bronze medallists from Spain - Xammar & Rodriguez - were competing on opposite sides of qualifying.
FAST START FOR THE SPANISH
Winners of the day in blue fleet were Spain’s Nico Rodriguez now crewing for Silvia Mas. Winners of the day in yellow fleet were Spain’s Nora Brugman with Jordi Xammar at the helm. Xammar only just flew into Turkey in time for the first race after a hectic weekend competing in St Tropez as Team Spain’s skipper on the high-speed SailGP circuit at the weekend.
Mas has been out of the boat for most of the year after picking up a ski injury, so she and Rodriguez were uncertain how their first major regatta together would go. Scores of 4,2,1 were a stellar start for the new pairing, as Rodriguez commented: “I would say that we had a really good day for our first day. We didn’t have any letters on our scores, and getting a second place and a race win was really nice.”
With scores of 1,2,1, the Spanish team of Xammar and Brugman were even more impressive, especially considering the late arrival into Cesme. “We didn’t have time to get used to the venue,” said Brugman, “so we wanted to keep things simple and stay close to the fleet while we were still learning the best way around the race track. We avoided any big mistakes and we were going fast in the wind and the waves, so we’re happy with our day.”
SWEDEN AND BRITAIN IN HOT PURSUIT
Anton Dahlberg finished one place higher than the Spanish men at Tokyo 2020, but the Olympic silver medallist from Sweden, now sailing with Lovisa Karlsson, was a little tough on his performance. “I think we took too much anxiousness out on to the water today,” he said. “We’re quite fast but sometimes fast and stupid. Sometimes it was surprisingly tricky out there but it was great conditions for 470 racing.”
The British teams showed flashes of brilliance but couldn’t match the consistency of the Spanish. Martin Wrigley, now sailing with Tokyo gold medallist Eilidh McIntyre, won the first race of blue fleet, closely followed by teammates Vita & William Heathcote (GBR). As Vita commented: “That first race was our tribute to the Queen.” All three British teams in Turkey have been flying Union Jack flags at half mast in tribute to the passing of Great Britain’s monarch.
Wrigley & McIntyre sit in fourth place overall, while the Heathcote siblings are in ninth overall. The Heathcotes were leading at the halfway stage of their final race but on the tight spinnaker reach their pole kept on pinging off the mast, losing them valuable places and dropping the sister and brother combo to fifth across the finish. Even so, not bad for William who was competing in his first ever 470 championship as a last-minute stand-in for Vita’s usual crew, Ryan Orr, who is recuperating from a climbing injury.
ASIANS OUT IN FORCE
With international regattas having been in short supply over the past couple of years, and with less than two years to the 2024 Olympic Games, this European Championship is vital competition, even for non Europeans. The Asian nations are out in force, with teams from China, Japan, Korea and Thailand. Yixiao Lyu, sailing with male helmsman Ming Xu, was feeling tired after three tough races in the waves although she’s happy to be racing against the best in the world. “Our results were not good, but we are enjoying the sailing and the competition,” she said.
Today was also Phillip Autenrieth’s birthday, the German sailor celebrating a race win with his skipper, Luise Wanser. “We were fighting for the win in the last race of the day, too, but we had problems with our kite halyard on the reach,” said Autenrieth, 32 today. “That lost us around five places, so that was frustrating.” This evening the teams were working hard to iron out all the glitches in their equipment and they’re debriefing the highs and lows of a challenging first day of competition with their coaches.
Tomorrow the sailors can expect two more qualifying races in the big northerly breeze of Cesme, Turkey.
HR photos: https://bit.ly/470photos
Written by Andy Rice