Iason Panagopoulos (GRE) & Emilia Salvatore (ITA) crowned 2022 European Champions
The 2022 Optimist European Championship held in Sonderborg, Denmark from July 30 to August 6th has ended after 5 days of racing with each day offering up completely different racing conditions throughout the week that challenged all 253 sailors from 43 nations at the event.
Six races were completed in the qualification series in the first 3 days of the championship. For the final series held on the last two days of the championship, the sailors were allocated to Gold, Silver and Bronze Fleets for the boys and Gold and Silver Fleets for the girls based on their position after the qualification series.
On the last day of racing, Denmark yet again showed another side of its summer. On the previous day, it was sunny and 33 degrees and fairly steady winds - for the final day it was 13 degrees cloudy and light and shifty winds.
Sailors waited out on the water until 14:15 when the wind increased enough to start the final races in 8 knots of breeze. Unfortunately, only the Gold Boys and Gold Girls fleet could get a race in on the final day due to the late start in the day.
As a result, three races were completed in the final series for the Boys and Girls Gold Fleets and only 2 races for the Silver and Boys Bronze fleets.
Artur Brighenti (ITA) was the overall leader coming into the final day of racing and was 2 points ahead of Iason Panagopoulos (GRE), who was the leader at the end of the qualification series.
But the final race had Iason Panagopoulos (GRE), finishing 6th place ahead of Brighenti’s 13th place that put him on top of the leaderboard to become the 2022 Optimist European Champion. It was a nail biter finish to the end of the championship. Brighenti took the silver medal ahead of teammate Andrea Tramontnao (ITA), that took the bronze.
Host nation sailor Erik Futtrup Havemann (DEN) came on really strong in the final series with a 1st, 3rd and 8th place finishes to leapfrog from 12 overall coming into the finals to 4th overall, just missing the podium by 6th points.
Fifth over all was Gabriele Maria VITI (ITA) who came from 7th to 3rd overall in the finals series followed by Juan Bennassar (ESP) in 6th, Szymon Kolka ( POL) in 7th, Harrison Gandy (USA) in 8th, Ulysse Raison(FRA) in 9th, and Leandro SCIALPI ( ITA) in 10th place overall.
Italy dominated the boys leaderboard with 4 sailors in the top 10. Other countries with one sailor each were GRE, DEN, ESP, POL, USA and FRA.
In the Girls fleet, leading into the finals was Petronille Lescanne (FRA) followed by Emlia Salvatore (ITA) in second and Alicja Dampc in third overall.
Lescanne had a tough final series pushing her back to 9th overall. But it was Emilia Salvatore (ITA) who pulled out all the stops to finish with a 2nd and two first place finishes in the final series to put her 24 points ahead of her nearest competitor to become the 2022 Optimist European Champion. Clara Sigge (GER) took the silver with Biana Marchesini (ITA) 12 points back taking the Bronze.
Just off the podium was Prin Subying (THA) coming from 7th at the beginning of the finals to 4th overall. Justine Barbarin (FRA) followed in 5th and Aurora Ambroz (ITA) who leapfrogged from 19th place overall going into the finals to a 6th place finish with a 1st, 3rd and 5th place finishes in the final series. Elizabeth Xydas (USA) followed in 7th, with Alicja Dampc in 8th. Petronille Lescanne (FRA), the leader going into the finals ended up 9th overall. Rounding out the top 10 was Ayla Poyraz (TUR).
In the Girls Top 10 leaderboard there were 3 sailors from ITA, 2 from FRA, 1 each from GER, THA, USA, POL & TUR.
Top Overall Team at the 2022 Optimist European Championship was Italy, followed by France and Denmark.
The championship concluded with a closing ceremonies and prize giving. Many thanks to the Sonderborg Yacht Club for hosting and organising the championship and to the many volunteers and supporters that made it possible.