420 Junior Europeans Championship Preview
Racing at the 420 and 470 Junior European Championships kicks off on Wednesday 13 August in Gdynia, Poland. The two Junior European Championships are held alongside each other to support the natural transition between the 420 and 470, although the racing format and course areas are separate.
A total of 332 sailors are competing, with teams from 25 nations contesting the 420 Junior Europeans and 470 Junior Europeans. Joining the European nations are teams from Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand and the USA.
Warm-up events for both classes has seen the 470 Class running a three-day training clinic led by world-class coach Nigel Cochrane (CAN), whilst the 420 fleet has enjoyed the Polish 420 National Championships as a training ground. The 420 National Championships gave an early taste of form with fifty-eight teams competing, including twenty-five international teams. The Nationals was won by Greece’s Nikolaos Brilakis/Nikolaos Georgakopoulos and top ladies team were Poland’s Ewa Romaniuk/KataRzyna Goralska in second overall.
Some of the sport’s most talented youth teams are set to flex their muscles on the race tracks of Gdynia, including the 2014 470 Men Junior World Champions, 470 Women Junior World Championship podium finishers, the defending 470 Women Junior European Champions and a stellar line up of 420 sailors including medallists from the recently held 420 World Championships and the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships.
Keeping Poland’s ambitions burning strong are 38 of the nation’s best young sailors, with ten teams in the 470 fleets and a fourteen-boat line-up in the 420 Class.
The 2014 420 and 470 Junior European Championships officially opened this evening at an opening followed by sailors’ buffet.
470 MEN AND WOMEN
Reigning 470 Junior World Champions, Jordi Xammar/Joan Herp of Spain successfully defended their 2013 Junior World Championship title in Italy in June and are now on a quest to do the double this year and add the 470 Junior European Championship to their growing gold medal haul. After their win at the 2013 470 Junior Worlds, the pair fell short of the podium at the 2013 Junior Europeans, finishing 4th by 10 points, so are back to make amends. Competing here in Poland was a last minute decision for the pair who were on vacation and simply had an overwhelming mission to compete and try to claim the Championship medal which has so far eluded them.
“We were not planning to come, but then we decided we’d better come just to see what we could do here,” smiled Xammar. “The 470 Junior Europeans has not been our Championships. We have won five other junior world titles and this is the only one we haven’t won.”
Predicting what will give them the edge on the race track, Xammar continued, “The wind conditions and speed are not going to be the priority here. I think more important will be tactics and strategy around the race course.”
The Spanish are joined by six of the other teams in the overall top 10 from the 470 Men Junior Worlds, so an intense battle is on the cards.
In the 470 Women, defending 470 Women Junior European gold medallists Anna Kyselova/Anastasiya Krasko from the Ukraine are back to defend national pride. The pair claimed silver at the 2013 Junior Worlds, but with a raft of penalty scores at this year’s 470 Junior Worlds year in Italy failed to show their true form, and didn’t qualify into the Medal Race top ten 10. The pair have parked that that disappointment firmly behind them and know they can win gold here if they focus on a consistent scoreline.
Teams lining up against them include silver medallists at the 470 Junior Worlds Jess Lavery/Megan Brickwood from Great Britain and the bronze medallists Noya Bar-Am/Rimon Shoshan from Israel, These three teams, are joined by five more of the top 10 from the 470 Junior Worlds in italy.
The British pair have had a break from international competition since the Junior Worlds, focusing on work commitments and training in the UK, so are also fresh to the race track.
“We have had a good few days training out here and had some good tuning with the Canadian team,” commented Lavery. “It has gone well so far and we are getting familiar with the venue and feeling happy with how we are sailing.”
The 470 Men and Women will race as two separate fleets, each fleet contesting a single series of 10 races, followed by the ten-boat Medal Race final. Racing is scheduled to get underway at 1100 hours on Wednesday 13 August 2014.
In the 420 fleet, there are numerous familiar faces who have headed to Poland straight from the 420 Worlds in Travemuende, Germany and are back on the race track for the 420 Junior Europeans. To ensure quality of racing, entries are limited with a strict quota of seven teams per nation, apart from the host nation who can enter 14 teams. Teams race all together, so mixed teams, men and ladies teams all up against each other.
In 2013, the 420 Ladies controlled the leaderboard, claiming gold and silver, with the men’s teams surprisingly off the pace in last year’s windy conditions at Pwllheli, Wales.
Lighter winds are forecast for the Championship here in Poland, but judging from today’s practice race, it may be more to do with who can read the wind best as shifty conditions look set to prevail.
Spain’s Silvia Mas/Marta Davila won the ladies 420 division at the ISAF Youth Worlds and are looking forward to the challenge of racing in an open fleet
“I think for me it is more fun,” laughed Mas. “It is a different thing just sailing with just girls compared to mixed. In the lighter winds the girls all do better, but we drop down when the wind picks up. I think it is really fun to sail all together.”
“It is a bit shifty and the waves are quite difficult, particularly on starboard,” she continued. “But it is the same for everybody.”
The summer has been a gruelling back to back schedule of Championships, which take their toll.
"I am a bit tired,” said Mas. “But I am feeling OK as although I have raced lots of Championships I have learnt a lot.”
Also amongst the pre-race favourites will be the silver medallists at the 420 Worlds, Hippolyte Macheti/Sidoine Dantes of France who were also honoured as the top team placed team aged 18 and under and crowned Junior 420 World Champions.
As well as the Greek winners of the Polish 420 National Championships, local 420 team Ewa Romaniuk/KataRzyna Goralska will also be amongst the frontrunners.
Romaniuk/KataRzyna Goralska dominated during the early stages of the last year's 420 Junior Europeans, before struggling to maintain consistency and finishing 11th overall. But 2013 was a different game, as it marked their first season together. Rock forwards 12 months and the pair have far more experience to their credit and also secured the bronze medal at this year’s ISAF Youth Worlds, up from 9th overall in 2014. They didn’t compete at the 420 Worlds earlier in August, so are fresh for racing here in Gdynia.
Absent from the start line will be recently crowned 420 Ladies World Champions, Italy’s Carlotta Omari/Francesca Russo Cirillo, and silver medallists Kimberly Lim/Savannah Siew who flew back to Singapore to prepare for upcoming school exams. Their absence also leaves the door open for the 420 Worlds bronze medallists Aikaterini Tavoulari/Fotini Koutsoumpou of Greece to step up. The pair gave the series leaders a run for their money in Germany and can do the same in Poland, particularly after their 7th overall at the Polish 420 Nationals.
There are numerous faces who can rise to the top from the 108 talented 420 teams competing, so expect some early leaderboard charges from Wednesday’s opening three races.
Racing kicks off on Wednesday 12 August with three races scheduled for all fleets starting at 1100 hours. The 108 boat 420 Fleet have been split into two fleets, yellow and blue and will be re-seeded for each of the three days of qualification, after which they will advance through to gold and silver fleets for the final series.
The 470 Men and 470 Women are sailing a single race series in separate fleets, with 11 races scheduled followed by the top 10 Medal Race.
Check out the Live Race for updates from the race course throughout the day.
About the 420 and 470 Junior European Championships
In the 420 fleet, teams must be 18 years or younger in the year of the Championship, with crews in the 470 eligible to compete if they are 21 years or younger.
The 420 and 470 Junior European Championships are taking place from 11-18 August 2014, hosted by Gdynia Marina, in partnership with the Polish Yachting Association, 420 and 470 National Class Associations and International 420 and 470 Class Associations.
About the International 470 Class
The International 470 Class is the class of boat used for both the men's two person and women's two person dinghy events at the Olympic Games. Used as Olympic equipment since 1976, the 470 is sailed in more than 60 nations around the world. A strict one design class, the 470 has proved its Olympic Class status pedigree as a high performance sailing dinghy, suitable for body weights from all continents and with the capacity to perform across a wide range of weather conditions. www.470.org
About the International 420 Class
The 420 is an established worldwide performance two-person trapeze and spinnaker racing dinghy which holds status as an ISAF International Class. Over 56,000 boats have been built worldwide.
The International 420 Class is recognised by ISAF as an ISAF Learn to Sail Training Programme Recommended Boat, which endorses its use by Member National Authorities for developing and teaching sailing in their nation. This recognition also endorses that the 420 is proven to have suitable availability to MNA's and also offers a supply structure to reduce costs to the MNA's and Learn to Sail Programme training centres. www.420sailing.org