Olympic class skiff sailors, including seven Australian pairings, will be on the grid for the 49er and 49erFX European Championships at Barcelona, Spain, April 11 -16, 2016. It will be the final class regatta for Australia’s Olympic gold medallists (London) Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen before the pair relocate to Guanabara Bay in Rio for training and the last-stage run into this year’s Games.
Second to the Irish at Palma’s Princesa Sofia regatta that finished last Sunday, Outteridge and Jensen joined the rest of the skiff squad in splitting off to Barcelona where both men’s and women’s fleets are gearing up for a huge week.
London 2012 Olympic silver medallists and four time 49er world champions Peter Burling and Blair Tuke are proving tough to beat and Outteridge recognised it was nice change to do the Sofia regatta without them. “We were able to focus on ourselves. Pete and Blair have arrived here at Barcelona and we are looking forward to racing against them. We have the full fleet; all the top guys are coming and they’ll all be pushing hard for their spot. It’s going to be a big week.”
Crews are training in challenging conditions due to big waves and light winds. “It’s proven a very tricky venue from what we’ve learnt so far; big waves and not a whole lot of wind,” Outteridge described. “It’s still early in the season so the sea breezes are only 6-10 knots but the waves are the size 20 knots of wind would generate, plus there’s a lot of bounce-back off the shore.”
David Gilmour and Lewis Brake, Joel Turner and Tom Siganto and Will and Sam Philips make up the rest of Australia’s 49er contingent among a total fleet of 75 teams from around the world.
In the smaller rigged FX, due to make its Olympic class debut in Rio in August, three crews are in the hunt for selection to the Australian Olympic Team. Tess Lloyd and Caitlin Elks, who achieved country qualification, did themselves a favour finishing fifth overall at Palma last Saturday. Results at the Europeans and Sailing World Cup Hyeres at the end of the month will see the end of team selection regattas for Rio.
Overnight Lloyd said, “The Europeans are important for us, for nomination, and we are hoping for a really good result. Ideally we’ll get a mix of conditions; we like a little bit of everything. So far there’s been a big swell, making it tricky to catch waves. This is where there can be big gains and losses made.
“Everyone comes together for this event; it’s going to be pretty challenging,” Lloyd summed up.
Olivia Price and her crew Eliza Solly and Haylee Outteridge with Nina Curtis complete Australia’s European Championships representatives among 42 international FX teams.
The championships consist of an opening series starting Monday April 11 divided into a qualifying series and a fleet racing series, then a deciding Olympic format medal race on Saturday April 16, 2016.
See video preview including interviews with Caitlin Elks and Nathan Outteridge