Techno 293 European Championships - day 5

Great racing conditions on the last day of the 2011 Techno 293 European Championships in Cagliari, Sardinia, ensured that the full programme of scheduled races was completed before crowning four new champions, from four different countries: Shahar Tibi (Israel) and Andrey Zagainov (Russia) for the Under 17 category, Emma Wilson (Great Britain) and Mikita Tsirkin (Belarus) for the Under 15.

With 249 competitors - the largest continental event ever - it was still an open championship at the close of day 4, with titles to be won and lost in all divisions. Only Emma Wilson sailed to the starting line on Friday confident enough, thanks to her 13-point lead over potential silver medalist Delphine Jariel of France and 19 points over third seeded Emma Bologna of Italy. Just to be safe, the young British sailor kept her opponents at a distance with a solid 4-1-4.

Bologna finished her championship with an impressive 2-1 and barely missed the silver. Jariel had to throw away two out of three scores from the last day to stay ahead by just one point and keep the second spot on the podium.

It was an even closer race for the Under 15 boys. Recent world champion and local hero Mattia Onali celebrated on the finish line after a 3-2-1 in the last day. Unfortunately for him, after completing 12 races the boys both in U17 and U15 divisions could not simply throw away their worst two scores, like the girls did: one had to be excluded from the qualifying round and one from the final round (Appendix 2, GR.7 of the sailing instructions).

Onali - who had a difficult start with a big course mistake that confined him to 24th position on the first race - did nothing worse than third in the final round but had to carry along a 7 from the first round while giving up a 3. Big disappointment, understandably, when he discovered that the final score was actually Tsirkun 21 points, Artom Javadav 22, Onali 23. The same three promising windsurfers seen on the podium at the World Championships in San Francisco three months ago - only in reverse order. And this time was Belarus turn to celebrate.

Local supporters in Cagliari divided their cheers between Onali and Marta Maggetti, recent winner at the European Youth Sailing Games, where she had left behind T293 world champion Saskia Sills and Stefania Elfutina of Russia. Chasing the gold medal for Under 17 girls, Maggetti this time managed to grab the silver, instead, catching Emma Labourne (GBR) at 28 points but passing her on the podium thanks to a tie-breaking rule. The gold went to Shahar Tibi of Israel - apparently she had saved some extra energies to tame wind and waves in the final two days and close with 25 points.

Andrey Zagainov of Russia, gold medalist in Under 17 boys, today recovered from a poor start in the first race to clinch his first European title. In the same race Philippe Lafay (FRA) threw away the last chances of victory with his worst placement of the entire week - 13th. Winning the last race he recovered a few points but Zagainov finished just two positions behind and kept the gold.

Two well deserved bronze medals were awarded for U17 - to Bautista Saubidet Birkner of Argentina and Baz Bell of Israel. The South American 2011 and 2010 champion was racing thanks to the open format and even if closed one point ahead of Baz could not take away the bronze from a European competitor. The two of them looked ready to battle for gold in the qualifying round but somehow slipped behind Zagainov and Lafay in the last two days.

The small Open fleet gave the gold to Francesco Casti over his fellow Italian (and International T293 Class president) Ezio Ferin.

With all the strong rivalry seen on the water, prize giving ceremony was a big fun party. Well done to all the competitors for great spirit and camaraderie throughout the Championship.

And from Techno 293 Class, congratulations to the Race committee, under the leadership of Franco Pagliarini, for 12 superb races for the young windsurfers from 16 countries, and to the dedicated team of volunteers assembled by the Windsurfing Club Cagliari.