Denmark Shines as New Zealand Flex Muscles in 49er Heaven

With pressure in the sails and sun on the faces, Danish sailing impressed again on day four of the SAP 49er and 49er FX European Championships. With 10-12 knots westerlies, the Bay of Aarhus provided perfect conditions for those on the water and those watching from shore and Denmark now occupy first and second in the women’s FX.

Jena Mai Hansen and Katja Salskov-Iversen, who train in Copenhagen, were the pick of the fleet as they won the first race of the four today. They were always vying for the lead and jumped from fourth to second, 14 points behind overnight leaders and local favourites Ida Marie Baad Nielsen and Marie Thusgaard Olsen.

“This is how Aarhus normally is, sun and wind,” Nielsen said. “It’s perfect for sailing and we talked about not taking too many chances. It’s better to be together with the front boats than have the lead alone. Sometimes, somebody is lucky but you can’t be that person all the time.”

It was New Zealand’s Olympic silver medalists at London 2012, Peter Birling and Blair Tuke, who asserted themselves, taking the lead by a point. But Great Britain has showed the depth of their much-envied Olympic programme with four in the top ten.

The whole fleet basked in near perfect close shore conditions with the boats rounding the upwind mark just 50 metres from the spectators. The wind shifts that always come when the course is close to shore made it a day of constant tacks and gybes and cuts and bruises – Germany’s Max Lutz was washing blood off his boom at the end after it had streamed down his face on the course. The experienced New Zealanders were rubbing their hands from the start.

“I don’t mind sailing in any conditions but when it gets breezy a lot less people have the skills to really through the boat around and put it exactly where they want it,” Birling said. “We sailed well last week in pre-training here when it was those conditions so we were really excited to get out there,” Tuke said.

They were second in the first race, won the second and were third in the third but one of their most satisfying moments came in the fourth and last race of the day. After getting entangled with Denmark’s Lübeck brothers rounding the upwind mark after the first beat, they came back from 20th to 7th. “Those sort of races are the ones that save your regatta,” Tuke said.


Men’s 49er:

Women’s 49er FX:

Livestreaming of the event will be available from Friday at:

The 2013 SAP 49er & 49erFX European Championship is organized by Sailing Aarhus in co-operation with Aarhus Sailing Club and with the support of the municipality of Aarhus, Sport Event Denmark, SAP, SEIKO, VOLVO, HENRI LLOYD and CABINN.

The European Championship takes place in Aarhus from the 2th to the 7th of July. Denmark has a strong tradition in the 49er discipline with Olympic gold in 2008, Olympic bronze in 2012, and also a first place at the 2013 World Cup in the 49erFX. The expectations are therefore for the Danish sailors to achieve top results at the European Championship in Aarhus.

The venue of the European Championship is located at Aarhus Marina, and the final races will take place on a 100X300 meter course located just off the promenade on Sunday 7th July from 10.00.