It’s a lot easier to wait around when you’re in the lead,” said Anna Burnet on shore as she watched the 49ers in their medal race sitting motionless in the sunset. Moments later, the horn blew, the Nacra medal race was canceled and her and John Gimson became the European champions.
With a decisive 1,2,1,1 yesterday, the British pair were eight points clear of Italians Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti who had worked their way through the fleet all week in the sometimes dicey, light wind conditions. The team, known for winning moderate and windy events with nearly all firsts, had struggled earlier in the year with winds under 10 knots. Banti said that they focused in this weakness and found the solutions they needed to be a more well-rounded team.
The podium was rounded out with early event leaders Gianluigi Ugolini and Maria Giubilei only three points behind. The two Italian teams and the British were well clear of the fleet and left an intimidating mark on their challengers especially considering they will all be training together this winter in Italy.
Asked if it’s difficult to manage training then competing against the British and the other Italian team, Banti said it’s important to keep the racing in perspective. “First of all, it’s play, it’s a sport. And we must always respect the value of sport and Olympism,” said Banti. “In the water and while racing everyone are competitors, but always in a fair play and with respect.”
Though racing was cancelled today, there was still a reason to celebrate for Austrians Lukas Haberl and Tanja Franck who confirmed their country selection for Paris 2024 Frank has been to two games, winning a Nacra 17 bronze in Rio 2016 and competing in the 49erFX in Tokyo 2021.
“Mathematically we had no chance of moving up today but our goal was to keep that place,” said Frank. “We are happy, but now we have a lot to work on this winter.”
If the Austrians were the best of the rest at this European championships, the British were the best of the best. “This wasn’t easy,” said Gimson. “There were some dodgy starts and we really want to work in these aspects.” Burnet added that they are reaching a new level of communication in their training and racing.
“Where we are in our partnership as a team, we have the ability to debrief real well, and figure quickly what we didn’t get right and how to do that better,” said Burnet. “That’s something we need to keep pushing onward.”
The next Nacra 17 event, Trofeo Princesa Sofia in April, seems like an eternity away but the British team and most of the fleet have a long performance punch list to work on all winter as the sailors push these flying catamarans faster and faster.
For more information on the 49er racing, visit the event page: 2023 European Championship – International 49er Class Association
For full results: visit this page