Seiko has been the main sponsor of the 49er Class since 2007 which now includes the women’s FX class.

On Sunday, July 12, the New Zealand crew of Pete Burling and Blair Tuke won the 49er European Championships, dominating the final day of competition on the huge Atlantic swell off the coast of Porto, Portugal. The day before, the European Championships for the women’s class, the 49er FX, was won by the Italian team of Giulia Conti and Francesca Clapcich after an equally wild but very different Medal Race in the river estuary.

Since 2007, Seiko has been a main sponsor of the International 49er Class, and both teams were rewarded with Seiko Velatura watches in recognition of their wins.

Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, winners of the Championships and ‘Kings of the Downwind’

However, in addition to the Championship medals, there is another prize at stake. At every major regatta, the world’s best sailors compete not just for Championship gold, but for the glory of being the fastest downwind sailor.

Among the women’s 49er FX fleet, Giulia Conti and Francesca Clapcich went into the final day playing catch-up in the overall Championships, but they sailed a stunning series to retain their Seiko ‘Queens of the Downwind’ crown, as well as the gold medal itself. Their downwind speed made all the difference.

For much of the men’s 49er European Championships, the young Argentinian brothers, Yago and Klaus Lange, were leading the Seiko ‘Kings of the Downwind’ competition and were lying in the top 4 overall. However, a difficult last day saw them slide out of top spot and overtaken by the overall winners of the European Championships - Pete Burling and Blair Tuke of New Zealand.

In both classes, therefore, the importance of downwind speed was there for all to see, and the winning teams have the Velatura watches to prove it!

The Championships were viewed by record audiences, both live and globally via Youtube, with over 500,000 minutes of footage watched over the week. Next stop for the fleets in this crucial Olympic qualifying year is the World Championships in Buenos Aires in November. Will raw speed make the difference once again?

The watch presented to the gold medallists was the Seiko Velatura Kinetic Perpetual. (SNP119)

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