49er European Madrid 2016: Gold and silver for Spain in Majorca

Sunday, 30 March 2008

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Spanish double triumph at the 49er Europeans – Madrid 2016 with Gold for Iker Martínez & Xabi Fernández and silver for brothers Federico & Arturo Alonso. The event, held at Club Nàutic S’Arenal, in Majorca, enjoyed today a gripping ending that finally gave the opportunity to the Basque tandem to win their third European title- second consecutive one- and the first medal for the brothers from Asturias. Third place on the podium was for Ukrainian sailors Rodion Luka & Geogiy Leonchuk.

The top ten teams of the 49er Europeans – Madrid 2016 sailed today the Medal race, final race that cannot be discarded and scores double. The weather conditions in the bay of Palma on this final day underwent a radical change with respect to the previous days with East-Southeast wind from the land, constant changes of direction and speed (an average of nine knots) and smooth sea.  

Therefore the fleet sailed close together with constant changes of positions throughout the race to the point that the team to round the windward mark first was last at the leeward mark. This happened to the Sibello brothers, the current world ranking leaders, although they managed to regain places and finished second in the Medal Race.  

But the focus of attention in this last race of the 49er Europeans – Madrid 2016 was on the two Spanish tandems. Iker Martínez & Xabi Fernández (Grand Krust Movistar), 2004 Athens gold medallists and the Spanish representatives at the 2008 Beijing Games, started the race with four point advantage over the Ukrainian team, and eight over the brothers from Asturias that were third overall. The Basque team took the start with the assurance they could revalidate last year’s European title in Sicily, and so they did. In the first beat to windward they took the right decision when the wind shifted taking the left side of the course together with the Sibello brothers. They were second at the windward mark while their sparring, Federico & Arturo Alonso (Alfa Romeo), were fifth in front of the Ukrainian team. The Austrian team, which was fourth overall, was also behind.

From this moment the Spanish team concentrated on keeping control over its main rivals. The Alonso brothers from Real Club Astur de Regatas de Gijón, sailed very well and after a few ups and downs crossed the line in fifth place, while the twice world champions were not lucky in the last downwind leg and finished eighth. But their main rivals finished below fifth place: Ukrainian sailors Luka & Leonchuk were ninth; Austrian team Delle Kart & Resch, seventh and US sailors Wadlow & Rast, sixth.

So, Iker Martínez & Xabi Fernández were crowned European champions with two point advantage over their home rivals and team mates from the Real Federación Española de Vela, Federico & Arturo Alonso. It is the third European title for the Basque tandem that won already in 2002 and last year. Besides, they have also won two European bronze medals (2000 and 2006) and a silver medal in 2001. Nevertheless, it is the first medal for the team from Asturias.  

Ukrainian sailors Rodion Luka & Geogiy Leonchuk (Transbunker) had to be contented with the bronze medal at this 49er Europeans – Madrid 2016, at four points from the team from Austurias and two point advantage over fourth classified team, Austrian sailors Nico Luca Marc Delle Karth & Nikolaus Leopold Resch (Hobas), which following their result in this event organised by Club Nàutic S’Arenal have been selected to represent their nation at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Fifth place was for Australian team Nathan Outteridge & Austin Ben, the current class World champions and winners of the Medal Race, a perfect finale to a championship that didn’t start too well for them.

The prize giving ceremony of the 49er Europeans – Madrid 2016 will be held at 17:00 hours in Club Nàutic S’Arenal.

The 49er European championship is sponsored by Fundación Madrid 2016, the regional ministries of Tourism, Sport and Youth of the Govern de les Illes Balears and Llucmajor city council. The regatta collaborators are firms Engel & Völkers & Cadillac and Seiko is the class sponsor.

Image: Íker Martínez y Xabi Fernández © Neus Jordi/CNA

Neus Jordi

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Last Updated ( Sunday, 30 March 2008 )