The 2016 IOM European Championship started on Saturday 24th at the Club Naútico Vitoria. The first days was used to welcome the participants and register them, as well as the technical control of the sailboats.
In all we have 76 skippers from 19 countries, not only from Europe, but also from Australia, Asia and the Americas.
At 10 am the office opened on the Banks of the Ulibarri-Gamboa reservoir, and rapidly the first sailors started to assemble their boats to undergo the technical checks and start experiencing sailing at the venue.
Among the skippers stands out Brad Gibson, incumbent World and Europe Champion, who brought the trophy that will pass to the new European Champion (if necessary ;-).
Other familiar names of fast competitors that challenged at Foster City Worlds and Lago di Garda Europeans are also in the list, such as Alexis Carré, Rob Walsh, Juan Marcos Egea and many others. The organizers are pleased to see the world elite well represented overall, and we all hope for intense competition, as the conditions are so far excellent for sailing.
In terms of boat designs, the dominant choice is still Britpop, by Brad Gibson, who uses himself a derivative prototype, Pop, a bit thinner than the original, and not still produced in series. Other known designs such as KantunS and V9 are present, as expected, but we saw at the measuring some new prototypes in the hands of Graham Bantock (Akziom) and Zvonko Jelacic (Kantun 2 Prototype), and original designs from Ante Kovacevic (Pikante’s, which DNA is indicated by its name), Darren Abdilla (Malteser) and JM Egea (Prototipo 2) to name just a few.
Diligent work by the Measurer and its team had the process practically finished on the first day, ahead of schedule, which allowed all to focus in training since the beginning of Sunday, with strong winds and light chop. We saw only A rigs on Saturday and Sunday, although the wind was persistently on the harder side of the A range.
At 19h on Saturday the Opening Ceremony was starting, with the introductions of the Committee, the Umpires and the 19 Nations present, followed by the official Opening declared by the Councillor for Sports from Vitoria city Council, followed itself by a light lunch.
Sunday morning started with training and similar weather to Saturdays, mostly cloudy with quite scarce sunny spots, but good wind. The Skippers meeting took place at midday and at 13h the racing started with the Seeding Race, and an impressive demonstration of Brad in its heat.
After the A to E fleets were formed, Race 2 and 3 took place, and both saw Ante Kovacevic finish on top, with the usual suspects showing ahead of the pack: Olivier Cohen, Rob Walsh, Alexis Carré, Gillermo Beltrí, etc.
Unfortunately a number of skippers were randomly slowed by weeds, including Brad himself, and the top two finishers of Race 2, although probably not the same length.
The racing finished at 7h30, with only two heats of race 3 done. The scoring of the day, including all finished races showed Ante on top of the list, followed by Rob Walsh, and a strong presence of the French team in the top two fleets.