SWEDEN SECURE GOLD AFTER MATCH RACE WITH SPAIN18 Sep 2022
Anton Dahlberg & Lovisa Karlsson (SWE) had to fight hard for the gold medal but the Swedes came through to win the 470 European Championships in Çeşme, Turkey. Jordi Xammar & Nora Brugman (ESP) had their opportunities to seize gold during a tense medal race in 16 to 18 knot southerly breeze, but in the end they couldn’t quite get past the Swedes and had to settle for silver. Giacomo Ferrari & Bianca Caruso (ITA) bounced back from a disastrous start to climb up to fourth in the medal race and take the bronze medal.
The Swedes had hinted that they would go on a match race offensive against Xammar & Brugman, the Spanish being the only team that could take the gold away from them. So it proved, with SWE349 going on the attack after the five-minute warning signal. At start time, both boats crossed the line on port tack behind the rest of the fleet. So long as Sweden stayed close to ESP44, the gold would be theirs.
However on the first downwind leg in a gybing duel the Spanish got the advantage and by the leeward mark had the necessary two boats between them in Sweden to be sitting in gold position. Dahlberg was telling himself to keep cool. “They had the upper hand at this stage but we just wanted to keep it close. Don’t do anything stupid, just stay close to them. Then I think they played a little bit into our hands because they covered us. And we said to ourselves, we can slow down the game because we had the points on our side.
“We came into today in a very strong position, so going into the final downwind, it wasn't the best situation, but it wasn't the worst either because the Spanish were second to last, we were last. But then we caught a wave and I said to Lovisa, ‘we have an opportunity here!’” The Swedes overtook the Spanish and did more than enough to seal the deal.
As ESP44 crossed the finish line, Xammar had his face in his hand. He was ruing the tactical mistakes made on the previous upwind leg, as Brugman explained. “Instead of staying with the Swedish we should have stayed with the pack,” she said. “We lost the moment to put boats between us and them. But overall it was a very good week for us, we have learned many things to take away and work on.”
It was a hurried arrival into Turkey for Xammar who had only just completed the St Tropez leg of the SailGP circuit. On Monday the skipper of Team Spain flies to Cadiz for the next round of SailGP, and only after that does Xammar have the time to focus on some proper training in the 470 with Brugman before the 470 World Championship in Israel at the end of October.
SLOW START BUT FAST FINISH FOR FERRARI
Behind the battle for gold and silver was a fierce fight for bronze. Hipployte Machetti & Aloise Retornaz (FRA) were fast out of the blocks and by the windward mark the French team had pulled out a huge lead. Meanwhile the team wearing the red bibs, Giacomo Ferrari & Bianca Caruso (ITA) who were third going into the medal race, had made a terrible start. “On our last tack before the start, the tiller extension got stuck under the traveller,” said Caruso. “I don’t know how that happened, we’ve never seen that before. We were just spinning around in a circle and had to release the vang or we would have capsized. And so we started dead last and we were just like, ‘go go, go, look for the pressure’.” Ferrari put his pedal to the metal and somehow the Italians fought their way back into the race. “We had a very good first downwind leg and we went around the leeward gate in fourth place. It was a crazy race but we’re so happy to come away with the bronze medal.”
FIVE WEEKS TO THE WORLDS IN ISRAEL
While the French just missed out on the podium, winning the medal race lifted Machetti & Retornaz to fourth place overall, two points ahead of Silvia Mas & Nico Rodriguez (ESP) who had sat in the top three for most of the week. Also finishing fast were the Israeli team of Nitai Hasson & Noa Lasry (ISR) whose second in the medal race lifted them to sixth overall and just a point behind the Spanish. “It’s only our second regatta racing together,” said Lasry. “We’re very happy with our week and we’re really looking forward to hosting the World Championships at our home club, Sdot Yam, at the end of October. We have had amazing conditions here in Çeşme, and I think we will have great sailing in Israel in five weeks’ time.”
IN MEMORY OF KEVIN BURNHAM
One of the most enduring images from Olympic competition is the moment Paul Foerster & Kevin Burnham (USA) crossed the finish line of the Olympic Regatta at Athens 2004 as winners of Olympic gold. Aged 48 at the time, Kevin rolled back the years to beat his younger rivals and celebrated with an exuberant backflip out of the boat. In November 2020, Kevin died before his time, aged just 63, after a long battle with pulmonary disease. Today at the prizegiving at Arkas Çeşme Sailing Club, Dahlberg & Karlsson received the Kevin Burnham Trophy along with their winners’ gold medals. “Kevin embodied everything that is great about 470 competition,” said Andreas Kosmatopoulos, President of the International 470 Class Association. “He was a fierce competitor on the race course and was always having fun in the boat park. His enthusiasm was infectious and inspirational. In the 60-year history of the 470, Kevin was and will always be one of the great characters of our class.”
written by Andy Rice
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