France, Norway and UK celebrate sailing wins in Vilamoura
French, Norwegian and British sailors emerged as the winners at the 2023 49er, 49erFX, and Nacra 17 European Championships, which were held between November 8 and 13 in Vilamoura and are described as “one of the most important international sailing events.”
Light winds marked the six-day event, with a total lack of wind on the final day leading to the cancellation of the final regattas.
The 49erFX European title went to Norwegians Helene Næss and Marie Ronningen, while second place went to Jana Germani and Georgia Bertuzzi, who secured a place for Italy at next year’s Olympic Games. The Spanish crew of Tamara Echegoyen and Paula Barceló finished third.
France’s sailing duo of Lucas Rual and Emile Amoros won the 49er European Championships by less than a point, beating second-placed Dominik Buksak and Szymon Wierzbicki from Poland.
According to 49er.org, “if the Medal Race had gone ahead, they would have gone in effectively tied and ready to compete in a who-beats-who scenario. Actually, the points were so tight in the men’s 49er that any of the top six would have had a realistic shot at the gold medal.”
The 49er podium was completed by New Zealand’s Isaac McHardie and William McKenzie.
Portuguese duo Pedro Costa and João Bolina were part of the 49er gold fleet, consisting of the top 25 teams, but finished in 24th place, failing to secure the Olympic qualifying spot they were vying for.
They will face another opportunity to qualify at the Olympic Week in Hyères, France, next April.
“We feel that we are making significant progress every passing day. The Hyères Week is still far away, and we have many days ahead until then. So, we will do everything to arrive in a good position. Now, we will make some adjustments to the equipment, mast, and sails, aiming to improve our performance in winds above 10 knots,” said Pedro Costa.
Finally, the Nacra 17 gold medal went to the British duo of Anna Burnett and John Gimson, who finished eight points clear of Italians Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti and 11 points clear of another Italian duo of Gianluigi Ugolini and Maria Giubilei.
Around 400 sailors from 34 countries travelled to the Algarve alongside nearly 100 coaches and many other staff linked to the events.