by Craig Heydon
Racing is underway for the 49er class at the 2011 Open European Championships in Helsinki, Finland.
After the opening three races two Australian crews are in the top 10 with Steven Thomas and Nick Brownie second, while Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen sit in fifth.
Day one of racing was held in light conditions between seven and 10 knots, testing the 65 boats.
Thomas and Brownie started the day with a 17th before hitting their straps with a race win and a third position to end the day just four points off the leading Austrian crew.
Outteridge and Jensen had a fifth, an eighth and a 20th to be five points off the final podium position.
The 2009 World Champions head into the regatta off the back of strong regatta results at the ISAF Sailing World Cup rounds in Holland and England where they finished second and first respectively.
The 2011 Open European Championship is the pair’s final hit-out before heading to the Weymouth and Portland International Regatta 2011, the test event for the London 2012 Olympic Games, at the end of the month.
Fellow Australians Will and Sam Phillips who had strong finish at the final two events of the ISAF Sailing World Cup in England and Germany currently sit in 21st position after crossing the line in 13th, 34th and 24th in the opening three races.
Racing is set to continue in Helsinki on Saturday and continues until Wednesday 13 July.
Australian Sailing Team
Open Europeans Helsinki 2011