Laser podia decided

As the Open Europeans in Finland continue on with the 49ers

Friday July 8th 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

On Friday the crowd gathered at the sailing venue saw two more European Champions crowned. Both Laser Standard and Laser Radial held their Medal Races today in sunny Helsinki.

The overall winner in the Radials was China's Lijia Xu, but the European Champion's title was awarded to Evi Van Acker of Belgium. Croatia's Tina Mihelic took the silver and Spain's Alicia Cebrian the bronze.

"This was already my fourth time at the Championships, and so It feels really good to win the title," said van Acker. "The conditions were very challenging, but I'm satisfied with my performance. This certainly gave my confidence a big boost. Now it's the time to get ready for the pre-Olympics in London and the World Championships in Perth, with the Olympic Games being my primary goal."

Van Acker was sixth in the Medal Race. Xu crossed the finish line third and Mihelic eighth.

Laser Standards' leader, Tonci Stipanovic picked up from where he left off yesterday. The Croatian won the Medal Race, leaving no chance for Jonasz Stelmaszyk of Poland to catch him in the standings. Stelmaszyk was third today and second overall.

"I won also last year, but this time it feels a bit different, since I've had a lot of friends here to support me. I sailed well and did my best during the whole competition", said Stipanovic.

Stipanovic looked very determined indeed, especially in the final start. He was punished for repeated fanning and thus had to make a 720-degree penalty turn, but somehow the Croat still managed to top everyone else.

"We now have a tough race among the Croatian team for the places in the upcoming Olympic Games. The whole national team performed well here, hopefully I will be able to earn my spot in London", Stipanovic concluded.

Austria's Andreas Geritzer finished second in the Medal Race, sealing his bronze medal.

For the 49ers, sixty-five teams representing twenty-one countries from around the globe and all continents are here to vie for the Seiko European crown and also to sharpen their skills to make the Olympic team for the 2012 Olympics.

In the opening day of racing with the fleet split onto two courses, Austrians Nico Delle Karth and Nikolaus Resch lead after three races, followed by Steven Thomas and Nick Brownie ofAustralia and Danes Peter Kruger Anderson and Nicolai Thorsell; only eight point separate the top five. Light air on both courses in the 7-10 knot range and flat water were the conditions of the day.

Multi World champion Nathan Outteridge from Australia who currently sits in fourth commented, "It's very shifty out there and we have to pay attention. On the inner course, we sailed all the way to the rocks before tacking" giving the spectators a thrill as they could practically touch the sailors. Outteridge and his crew Iain Jensen are tied with local Finnish sailors Lauri Lehtinen and Kalle Bask.

Qualifying races continue tomorrow through Sunday followed by three more days of the final series culminating with the medal race to be held on 13 July.

470 and Finn classes will begin their European Championships on Saturday.


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