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Team Fletcher-Sign - European Champions 2011 Team Fletcher-Sign - European Champions 2011

We are lucky in the 49er class in that most years we always get to go to some great locations for our Worlds and Europeans. This year was no change, the 2011 49er European Championships were held in Helsinki, Finland. The only problem being the long drive out there!Alain, Pinky and I all drove out with the team van, 2x 49ers and 1 RYA rib, which took us 3 days to get from Southampton to Helsinki and spent over 22 hours on ferries.

First thing we noticed once we eventually arrived was the weather. It was over 25 degrees and bright blue skies which was a common theme for the rest of time we were there. After rigging the boats, we headed to our University halls that we were staying in. In summer it turns into a hostel and proved to be the cheapest place to stay. The other thing about summer in Helsinki is that it never gets completely dark! Although you would not want to be there in January when it never gets light.

So onto the sailing, the training before the regatta was mostly done in 6-12 knots so we were expecting some light winds for the regatta. The sailing area for the regatta was right off the beach, we only had to sail 100m to the startline but you did have to watch out for the rocks on the race course…

Day 1 was held in a shifty 5-8 knots but mainly left hand track, with 30 boats on a short 3 lap race it was a hard day on the water. We had 2 good races with a 4,1 then got it a bit wrong in the last race to finish in 16th. Not an ideal start but everyone had a bit of a mixed day.

The next day was a bit breezier and great 49er conditions. We completed 3 more races but had a bad first race with a 16thand two averages races (6,7) meant that we fell back a bit to 11thoverall. Our problem was starting, we just never managed to get off the line but we knew it was all to play for with tight points.

Champagne conditions on day 3 of the Europeans, 18 knots, blue skies and warm weather, what more could you want. We picked up a 9,2,2 which moved us back up to 5thoverall going in to the all important Gold fleet.

Day 4 and the first day of gold fleet did not look like we would get racing. After a long postponement we eventually launched for 2 races in tough conditions. We had 2 great starts and with good boatspeed came away with 2 firsts! What a day, it was our best day ever!

So onto the penultimate day of racing and with 4 races it was all about consistency. We had a good day with a 1,7,11,7 but with a discard now in we dropped to 2ndoverall 2 points behind the Aussie’s Nathan/Gooby.

The last day of the regatta consisted of 1 gold fleet race and the medal race. In the gold fleet race the racecourse was tucked right under an island, causing some big snakes and ladders. We had a good start and came in 4thwith Nathan 5th, which meant that going into the medal race it was who beat who for the Open Europeans. We had a 12 point gap to 3rdoverall to challenge for the European Champion title.

The Medal race went less than planned, in fact it was our worst ever result in a medal race! It all went wrong at the start when we were over, by the time we had got back round we were well and truly last. After making some good gains down the run we were in the hunt but Nathan covered us up the next beat to put us back again. From then on we tried splitting from him as it was our only chance to get passed but it was not to be.

At the end of it all we were still the 2011 49er European Champions and 2ndoverall in the Open regatta. It is the best result ever and is exactly what we needed to do. It has taken some time to sink in but we are still chuffed!

We are lucky in the 49er class in that most years we always get to go to some great locations for our Worlds and Europeans. This year was no change, the 2011 49er European Championships were held in Helsinki, Finland. The only problem being the long drive out there!Alain, Pinky and I all drove out with the team van, 2x 49ers and 1 RYA rib, which took us 3 days to get from Southampton to Helsinki and spent over 22 hours on ferries.

First thing we noticed once we eventually arrived was the weather. It was over 25 degrees and bright blue skies which was a common theme for the rest of time we were there. After rigging the boats, we headed to our University halls that we were staying in. In summer it turns into a hostel and proved to be the cheapest place to stay. The other thing about summer in Helsinki is that it never gets completely dark! Although you would not want to be there in January when it never gets light.

So onto the sailing, the training before the regatta was mostly done in 6-12 knots so we were expecting some light winds for the regatta. The sailing area for the regatta was right off the beach, we only had to sail 100m to the startline but you did have to watch out for the rocks on the race course…

Day 1 was held in a shifty 5-8 knots but mainly left hand track, with 30 boats on a short 3 lap race it was a hard day on the water. We had 2 good races with a 4,1 then got it a bit wrong in the last race to finish in 16th. Not an ideal start but everyone had a bit of a mixed day.

The next day was a bit breezier and great 49er conditions. We completed 3 more races but had a bad first race with a 16thand two averages races (6,7) meant that we fell back a bit to 11thoverall. Our problem was starting, we just never managed to get off the line but we knew it was all to play for with tight points.

Champagne conditions on day 3 of the Europeans, 18 knots, blue skies and warm weather, what more could you want. We picked up a 9,2,2 which moved us back up to 5thoverall going in to the all important Gold fleet.

Day 4 and the first day of gold fleet did not look like we would get racing. After a long postponement we eventually launched for 2 races in tough conditions. We had 2 great starts and with good boatspeed came away with 2 firsts! What a day, it was our best day ever!

So onto the penultimate day of racing and with 4 races it was all about consistency. We had a good day with a 1,7,11,7 but with a discard now in we dropped to 2ndoverall 2 points behind the Aussie’s Nathan/Gooby.

The last day of the regatta consisted of 1 gold fleet race and the medal race. In the gold fleet race the racecourse was tucked right under an island, causing some big snakes and ladders. We had a good start and came in 4thwith Nathan 5th, which meant that going into the medal race it was who beat who for the Open Europeans. We had a 12 point gap to 3rdoverall to challenge for the European Champion title.

The Medal race went less than planned, in fact it was our worst ever result in a medal race! It all went wrong at the start when we were over, by the time we had got back round we were well and truly last. After making some good gains down the run we were in the hunt but Nathan covered us up the next beat to put us back again. From then on we tried splitting from him as it was our only chance to get passed but it was not to be.

At the end of it all we were still the 2011 49er European Champions and 2ndoverall in the Open regatta. It is the best result ever and is exactly what we needed to do. It has taken some time to sink in but we are still chuffed!

We are lucky in the 49er class in that most years we always get to go to some great locations for our Worlds and Europeans. This year was no change, the 2011 49er European Championships were held in Helsinki, Finland. The only problem being the long drive out there!Alain, Pinky and I all drove out with the team van, 2x 49ers and 1 RYA rib, which took us 3 days to get from Southampton to Helsinki and spent over 22 hours on ferries.

First thing we noticed once we eventually arrived was the weather. It was over 25 degrees and bright blue skies which was a common theme for the rest of time we were there. After rigging the boats, we headed to our University halls that we were staying in. In summer it turns into a hostel and proved to be the cheapest place to stay. The other thing about summer in Helsinki is that it never gets completely dark! Although you would not want to be there in January when it never gets light.

So onto the sailing, the training before the regatta was mostly done in 6-12 knots so we were expecting some light winds for the regatta. The sailing area for the regatta was right off the beach, we only had to sail 100m to the startline but you did have to watch out for the rocks on the race course…

Day 1 was held in a shifty 5-8 knots but mainly left hand track, with 30 boats on a short 3 lap race it was a hard day on the water. We had 2 good races with a 4,1 then got it a bit wrong in the last race to finish in 16th. Not an ideal start but everyone had a bit of a mixed day.

The next day was a bit breezier and great 49er conditions. We completed 3 more races but had a bad first race with a 16thand two averages races (6,7) meant that we fell back a bit to 11thoverall. Our problem was starting, we just never managed to get off the line but we knew it was all to play for with tight points.

Champagne conditions on day 3 of the Europeans, 18 knots, blue skies and warm weather, what more could you want. We picked up a 9,2,2 which moved us back up to 5thoverall going in to the all important Gold fleet.

Day 4 and the first day of gold fleet did not look like we would get racing. After a long postponement we eventually launched for 2 races in tough conditions. We had 2 great starts and with good boatspeed came away with 2 firsts! What a day, it was our best day ever!

So onto the penultimate day of racing and with 4 races it was all about consistency. We had a good day with a 1,7,11,7 but with a discard now in we dropped to 2ndoverall 2 points behind the Aussie’s Nathan/Gooby.

The last day of the regatta consisted of 1 gold fleet race and the medal race. In the gold fleet race the racecourse was tucked right under an island, causing some big snakes and ladders. We had a good start and came in 4thwith Nathan 5th, which meant that going into the medal race it was who beat who for the Open Europeans. We had a 12 point gap to 3rdoverall to challenge for the European Champion title.

The Medal race went less than planned, in fact it was our worst ever result in a medal race! It all went wrong at the start when we were over, by the time we had got back round we were well and truly last. After making some good gains down the run we were in the hunt but Nathan covered us up the next beat to put us back again. From then on we tried splitting from him as it was our only chance to get passed but it was not to be.

At the end of it all we were still the 2011 49er European Champions and 2ndoverall in the Open regatta. It is the best result ever and is exactly what we needed to do. It has taken some time to sink in but we are still chuffed!

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