Storm experts win ILCA 4 European Championship medals

After six qualifying races and four races in the girls' gold fleet and the boys' gold fleet, the new European champions in the ILCA 4 class have been decided. Six days of racing with very different, sometimes very challenging weather conditions lie behind the young sailors, who were represented by a field of 366 athletes at the 132nd Travemünde Week. Gold went to Annemijn Algra from the Netherlands and Athanasios Kyfidis from Greece.
 
The European Championship got off to a slow start. Due to a lack of fair sailing conditions, no races took place on the first day. And also on the second day, the weather gods threw a spanner in the works of the ILCA 4 sailors.  Heavy thunderstorms meant that no races were possible.  To compensate, two days of racing followed with good conditions and three qualifying races each, before the wind freshened up strongly for the last days of the European Championships.
 
When the girls' and boys' gold fleets competed in two races each on the second-to-last day of the championships, they struggled not only for good placings but also with the strong wind conditions. The junior athletes performed at the limit of their capabilities. A third of the girls' fleet had to abandon the second race of the day, only a few made it across the course without capsizing. The Dutch Annemijn Algra proved to be storm-proof, taking the lead with a day's win and a third place ahead of Italy's Emma Mattivi and Claudia Adán Lledó from Spain - an order that remained until the end of the European Championships.
 
"I cope well with a lot of wind, those were exactly my conditions. Only the wind shifts were annoying," said Algra, who recently stood on the podium at the Euro Cup during the Warnemünde Week as first in the women's category as well as second overall. She also stood at the top of the podium in Travemünde and was happy about the gold medal. Her opponent, the Spaniard and bronze medallist Claudia Adán Lledó, would have wished for less wind. Silver went to the Italian Emma Mattivi.
 
Basically, there was a constant interplay of results during the European Championships. It was not individual daily victories that decided the top position, but consistency. After a good start, the German boys soon had to acknowledge the superiority of the competition. Batbold Gruner from Bad Zwischenahn, who celebrated his greatest success last year by winning the Kieler Woche, reached the gold fleet and finished the European Championships as the best German in 41st place.
 
Also on the last day of the European Championship, challenging conditions dominated with wind speeds of up to 28 knots in gusts at the upper wind limit of the class specifications. The Greek Athanasios Kyfidis was best suited to the not so easy conditions in the boys' field at the European Championships, sailing to a commanding gold medal with a consistent performance in the final round. "We often have similar wind conditions at home. That's why the stronger wind on the last two days of the European Championships suited me. In general, it was a super event," explained the gold medallist from Athens. He finished first in three of the four races of the gold fleet, only once did he cross the finish line in second place. The new European vice champion is Massimiliano Antoniazzi. "It was difficult and challenging, but it worked out well in the end," the Italian sailor said happily. Bronze also goes to a Greek, Alexandros Eleftheriadis, who also won in the U16 category. "For me, a dream has come true here. There are so many good sailors here and I came third - unbelievable," said the Athenian overjoyed.
 
"The conditions at the European Championships were challenging, difficult and not very predictable. Everything was there: wind shifts, strong winds, rain and at the beginning two nerve-racking first days without racing. But the sailors mastered everything well. There were some good talents at the start," summarised Zlatko Jakelic, Vice President of EurILCA (European Class Association). The Croatian drew a positive conclusion after a good week at the European Championships. "It was a successful week. It was great to be able to hold the European Championships as part of Travemünde Week. Everything was well organised and we will be happy to come back," said Zlatko.

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