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Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic Croatian sailors Men's 470 World Champions
By Prof.Dr. Darko Zubrinic | Published  08/31/2009 | Sports | Unrated
Former junior world chapions now again world champions in sailing, page 1

Šime Fantela and Igor Marenić on the podium of world champions in sailing.

Šime Fantela and Igor Marenić from the Sailing club of St. Krševan from the city of Zadar in Croatia are world champions in sailing for 2009.

Šime Fantela and Igor Marenić are also former junior world champions in sailing.

470 Worlds 2009
PRESS RELEASE - 29th August, 2009

New pairings come good

Report credit: Sailing Intelligence

While the rain gods held off all week, the medal races for the 470 World Championship took place today, run by the Royal Danish Yacht Club off Rungsted harbour, in conditions varying so wildly that Beijing Gold medallist Malcolm Page described them as "like four seasons rolled into one".

And so, following today's double points scoring Medal races for the top ten placers in each event, men and women, Croatia's Šime Fantela and Igor Marenic are the new Men's 470 World Champions, while the ever consistent Dutch women, Lisa Westerhof and Lobke Berkhout, have won this year's World title in the Women's event.

Going into the medal race, the Croatian men were looking comfortable in the Gold spot with a 16 point lead over the second placed Japanese, Ryunosuke Harada and Yugo Yoshida, winners of this year's European championship. The main fight was on for the remaining podium spots with the Japanese separated by just two points from the Netherland's Sven and Kalle Coster, the class act earlier this week, and the fledgling British duo of Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell.

With the wind initially out of the west, the unpredictable offshore breeze the sailors dislike, racing got underway for the Men shortly before 1500 local time. The race, held on the shorter medal race course, closer to land, turned into a nailbiter with the lead changing on the first three legs. On the first upwind, the Costers chose the extreme right while the British were furthest out to the left and narrowly led around the top mark. On the downwind Spain's Onan Barreiros and Aaron Sarmiento had taken the lead, while a big left hand shift on the second beat saw Australians Matt Belcher and Malcolm Page surge up to first, which they never relinquished. The Croatians finishing immediately behind them was enough to secure their Gold, while a solid fourth place for Patience and Bithell allowed them to take silver, tied on points with the Japanese Harada and Yugo Yoshida, who moved down to the final spot on the podium.

While they made it look easy Fantela said the race was about as tense as could be. "We went out in 20 knots and the shower came with 35 knots and then there was no wind and then we started in light winds. So it was hard, really hard."

But it wasn't only the varied conditions putting knots in his stomach. "The race was not so sure for us, because I thought we were OCS on the start. We had a good start and the opening of the race was really good, but because I thought we were OCS, I started to watch where were our opponents – the Japanese, Costers and the British. Then when the British rounded first and we rounded seventh with the Japanese and the Costers behind us, it wasn't so good because I was thinking if ‘we are OCS and he is first – we lose!' Then when we got to the finish I saw we were not OCS and I was really, really happy. I feel really good, really good now," said Fantela, once he'd arrived back at the Rungsted harbour slipway to be showered with congratulations from both his team and rivals.

Most surprising was the result of the 23 year olds Patience and Bithell, one of the youngest teams in the Skandia Team GBR Men's 470 squad. They pulled up two places in the medal race to take silver, despite being such a new pairing that they had only sailed for five days prior to embarking on this World Championship.

"I am ecstatic. I can't believe it. I really am happy, with hopefully more to come…" said Patience, the beaming Scot.  "We went in with all to gain and nothing to lose. We said to each other ‘we are just racing our race and we'll just go and do what we are good at'. We were more than confident that we could come away with silver today in a medal race that was tight and small and offshore. It was one of those races where people do whacky things and try to go for all or nothing. So that went in our favour."

But the class act of this 470 World Championship has been another new pairing: that of the Netherland's Lisa Westerhof and Lobke Berkhout. They went into today's medal race with a commanding lead, only to win it, thereby coming out with the lowest score across both fleets – just 36 points, 24 ahead of the second placed young Spanish crew, Tara Pacheco and Berta Betanzos, while French long term campaigners Ingrid Petitjean and Nadčge Douroux retained bronze.

Despite having led this championship from the outset, the Dutch duo were over the moon to have won their first Worlds. Both are seasoned campaigners, Westerhof representing the Netherlands at the Olympic Games in Athens, where she finished ninth, and Berkhout, a twice world champion, who picked up silver in Beijing last year.

"This is awesome. We wanted it SO SO much," said Westerhof, literally jumping up and down for joy on the slipway. "This was not our goal. Our goal was to get close to the top sailors in the world. We started really really well and sailed a very consistent series and then a medal race like this which we won by really really far – it is great."

As to why they had done so well so early on in their campaign for the 2012 Games, Westerhof explained: "Two good sailors, a good coach, we had a good structure, we were working together really well….and there is still so much room for improvement still, as we only just got together, like communication and making decisions and who decides what – we are still finding things out and we'll make sure we work really hard from now on. We're not going to sit back and relax. We are going to push it through and make sure."

The majority of the sailors in this World Championship are soon to be heading for Weymouth in the UK for the Sail For Gold Regatta over 14-19 September. Next year's World Championship takes place over 9-18 July 2010 in The Hague in the Netherlands.

At the conclusion of the regatta Morten Lorenzen, CEO of the Royal Danish Yacht Club commented: "We are really happy – and tired. It has been a really big event for us, but with such a dedicated group of volunteers who have worked from early morning till late night, we have managed to achieve what we set out for: to hold a really great event for the sailors. And the order we send to the weather gods before the event, also came through!

"The Royal Danish Yacht Club's ambition is to hold high class events, where the activities on the water combine with a great atmosphere ashore. We are all sailors ourselves, and just simply try to create an event we would like to participate in ourselves."

Final lunge for the medal races

Report credit: Sailing Intelligence

With the final culling to determine the top 10 boats in both the Men and Women's Gold fleet going through to tomorrow's concluding medal races, today was the most traumatic to date at the 470 Worlds, organised by the Royal Danish Yacht Club and held off Rungsted to the north of Copenhagen, Denmark. In both fleets some impressive snakes and ladders took place despite the late stage of this regatta.

The wind today was similar to yesterday with a reasonably stable moderate southerly breeze that died off half way through the second race. But the summery conditions had given way to a more autumnal hue: more chilly and with the sky overcast.

Common to both the Men's and Women's fleets is that the Gold medal position tomorrow is looking reasonably secure. In the Women, it is of course the unshakable, consistent Dutch duo of Lisa Westerhof and Lobke Berkhout, who today posted a 6-1, and still hold an eighth as a discard. After today's racing they are now 14 points ahead of the Junior World Championship winners from Spain, Tara Pacheco and Berta Betanzos, on 48 points and third placed Ingrid Petitjean and Nadege Douroux from France on 54.

The top performance of the day was that of the young Spanish crew Pacheco and Betanzos, who after scoring two seconds, climbed up from fourth this morning to second, swapping places with Italy's Giulia Conti and Giovanna Micol.

"In the first race it was really good," said Pacheco, who heralds from the Canary Islands and who's performance is impressive, despite being only 20. "We didn't have a good start but we took some shifts and we stayed in the top 10. After that we always went up and that was nice."

It being so early in her Olympic career, Pacheco gives the impression she is feeling less pressure on her than her more experienced rivals.  "When we went into the water we knew we had to only sail and have fun. That was what we did - have fun and work hard in the boat. Other people have other pressure. I am happy staying in the top 10. I don't mind if tomorrow I lose."

Equally pleased with her performance and that of her crew Isabelle Kinsolving Farrar was US Sailing Team Alphagrapics' Eric Maxwell, the reigning World Champion, who scraped into tomorrow's medal race, just one point ahead of Argentinians Maria Fernando Sesto and Consuelo Monsegur.

Like so many here who represented their respective countries in Beijing last year, Maxwell and her crew have taken a break from sailing over these last months. "I think that each day we've been becoming a bit more confident and our boat handling has been getting better and we've been coming together as a team, having not sailed a lot this season," said Maxwell. "We just knew we had to get it done and today was the day to put it all on the line and show everyone what we have and have a good event."

In terms of race course specifics, with the wind from the south, the right side of the course was paying as there seemed to be not only more relief from the current there, but also better pressure. The Americans played this best and were able to win today's first race, following this up with a ninth.

As to getting into the medal race, Maxwell commented: "At the start of today I knew it was a possibility but I gave ourselves a 40% chance of making it. I knew we were sailing better and we were starting to feel more confident and feel a little greased. I knew it would be an uphill battle – the points were stacked against us, we were 13 points out of 10th at the start of the day and teams in front of us are all good teams. We knew that given the forecast they were all good teams in that wind velocity and unless we sailed our absolute best we weren't going to make it." But make it, they did.

But the biggest high jumpers today were once again the Greeks, Panagiotis Mantis and Kagialis Paulos, who in the high scoring men's fleet posted a 2-9 today, causing them to soar from 17th to 10th, earning themselves a place on tomorrow's elite starting grid. Just 48 hours ago they were 30th.

"We are very happy," said Mantis. "We hoped conditions would be the same and we could make the same sailing as yesterday. Conditions were pretty much the same. We had good starts in both races and good upwinds, so we were in the top ten in both races. We just wanted to get into the top 10 – that was our goal from the start of the Championship."

The Argentinians Luca Calabrese and Jean de la Fuente also squeezed into tomorrow's medal race, having started the day in 12th and ending it four points ahead of the Greeks, at the expense of New Zealand's Paul Snow-Hansen and Jason Saunders who plummeted eight places today.

Another successful day on the water, while all the top men's team suffered with the exception of the young French crew of Pierre LeBoucher and Vincent Garos and yesterday's British stars Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell, has seen Croatia's Šime Fantela and Igor Marenic gain a near unassailable 16 point lead among the Men.

"It was another amazing day," said Marenic. "Today we had two almost perfect starts on the right side, by the committee boat. Then we tacked almost immediately and we were in the top on the right side in both races and the right side was winning except the second upwind of the first race. But all in all we were always in the top today and the second race we won with an excellent downwind leg. So we are now confident for tomorrow."

As to whether they expected they would be in this position, the World Championship all but won for them, Marenic admitted that after their recent European Championship win they knew they were on top form, but they didn't expect to be leading here in Denmark.

"After our fourth in the first race we knew we still had a good discard and we thought we could risk more so we risked a bit on the start," said Marenic. "We must have been very close to OCS and it paid off." They, like the Women's leaders, won the second race today.

While the Croats' lead is looking comfortable, the fight for the remaining podium spots is anything but, with two points separating the second to fourth placed boats going into the Medal race.

Men's Medal Race

1 CRO 83 Fantela Šime, Marenic Igor 3 2 1 1 6 7 8 8 13 16 4 1 - 54

2 JPN 4340 Harada Ryunosuke, Yoshida Yugo 2 5 12 2 6 3 bfd 2 8 9 3 18 - 70

3 NED 1 Coster Sven, Coster Kalle 1 9 3 1 2 1 22 7 16 11 10 10 - 71

4 GBR 834 Patience Luke, Stuart Bithell 12 5 4 4 9 15 1 6 30 7 7 2 - 72

5 FRA 44 Leboucher Pierre, Garos Vincent 4 11 4 4 1 6 bfd 27 2 10 8 3 - 80

6 ESP 9 Barreiros Onan, Sarmiento Aaron 10 7 6 11 14 1 2 9 1 dnf 5 16 - 82

7 AUT 3 Schmid Matthias, Reichstaedter Florian 14 1 2 3 3 2 17 17 11 1 14 25 - 85

8 AUS 11 Belcher Matthew, Page Malcolm 7 5 8 3 2 5 14 11 9 14 12 13 - 89

9 ARG 7 Calabrese Lucas, De la Fuente Juan 4 19 5 8 7 7 9 25 12 6 13 4 - 94

10 GRE 1 Mantis Panagiotis, Paulos Kagialis 11 8 11 13 1 16 bfd 22 3 2 2 - 98


All the photos are from 470's Public Gallery

Šime Fantela and Igor Marenić celebrating the victory.

Iako su početkom 2008. napunili tek 22 godine Šime Fantela i Igor Marenić spadaju među najtrofejnije hrvatske jedriličare. Šime Fantela rođen je 19. siječnja 1986. godine u Zadru, a Igor Marenić 17 dana ranije u Malom Lošinju. Šime je u Zadru počeo jedriti sa šest godina, dok je Igor startao tri godine kasnije u Cresu. Već u klasi Optimist pokazali su da je pred njima itekako svijetla budućnost. Šime se 1998. okitio kadetskom svjetskom broncom, a 2000. uzeo je naslov svjetskog kadetskog prvaka. Prijateljstvo iz reprezentacije s Igorom, koji je 2000. bio peti na kadetskom svjetskom prvenstvu, rezultiralo je idejom da se okušaju zajedno u klasi 470. Zamišljeno - učinjeno. Igor se preselio u Zadar.

Šime Fantela
Igor Marenić

U šest godina juniorskog staža ovaj je dvojac tri puta osvojio naslov svjetskih juniorskih prvaka klase 470 – 2003., 2005. i 2007., brončani su bili 2004., a srebrni 2006. S europskih juniorskih prvenstava imaju tri medalje – zlato 2005. i srebra 2002. i 2006. U seniorskoj konkurenciji Fantela/Marenić u zadnje dvije godine jedre gotovo na svim regatama u prvih deset na svijetu. Na seniorskom SP 2006. godine bili su peti, a lani šesti. Lanjsko šesto mjesto u Portugalu donijelo im je ujedno olimpijsku normu. Šime je student ekonomije u Zagrebu, a Igor geodezije, također u Zagrebu. Kad se želi opustiti Šime će odabrati planine i penjanje, a Igor će se zaputiti u morske dubine, jer mu je hobi ronjenje.


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