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Verges won her third consecutive European title, Henot continued family tradition

Verges won her third consecutive European title, Henot continued family tradition 13.4.2024

The 2024 ECA Ocean Racing European Championships took place today in Terceira Island, Azores, Portugal. Spanish kayaker Judit Verges Xifra confirmed the status of the main favourite for a gold medal in women's senior SS1 event, while Hector Henot (FRA) took the win in men's senior SS1 event.

The athletes fought the for European Champion titles on a shorter course than originally planned, a course consisting of three laps in a safer environment of the harbour. Namely, the weather conditions did not allow the organisation of the competition on an originally planned course, ending in Angra do Heroismo. So, the organisers had to find a quick solution to organise a race on a circular course.
30-year-old Spanish kayaker Judit Verges Xifra was considered the main favourite for the European Champion title in women's senior SS1 event and she produced by far the best time in women's competition of the 2024 ECA Ocean Racing European Championships. She was a minute and 16 seconds ahead of Portuguese representative Sara Sotero, while experienced Chloe Bunnett picked up bronze medal for Spain.
Verges wrote history by winning the third consecutive European Champion title now in Azores: "I knew it will be a hard race, especially on a course like this, where you have downwind, upwind, the side wind. You do not know how you will feel in all these sections. At the end it was really good, but very hard. In each lap we had more wind, so the upwind was really really hard, but I am happy to finish it."
The European Champion title in women's U23 event went to the hands of a young Spanish paddler Lara Cellier, who is a junior paddler, but this time contested the U23 European Champion title. Cellier crossed the finish line 50 seconds ahead of France's Thais Delrieux who won silver medal, while Rosemary Edwards from Great Britain finished third.
France celebrated European Champion title in men's senior SS1 event thanks to Hector Henot, who was 58 seconds faster than Walter Bouzan from Spain. Bronze medal went to Pierre Vilella (FRA), who was a minute and 46 seconds behind his compatriot.
Hector Henot succeeded his brother Valentin on an European throne. The older of the Henot brothers was crowned European champion two years ago in Cagliari, and the 25-year-old Hector continued the family tradition by winning European Champion title. His brother Valentin was accompanying him at this championships in a role of a coach, as he did not compete for quite some time.
"It was the idea to keep the crown in the family," said Hector Henot and continued, "I am so glad I managed to do it. The competition was really rough and I had to really fight for it so it makes it even better. It's a great feeling to be able to follow my brother's footsteps. He was here for me for the last couple of weeks. I've spent the winter in Australia with a few Aussie guys, so that was the main thing for me the last winter. He gave me the final advice and made my life easier for the race."
The host nation was satisfied with the performance of their hopeful Bernardo Pereira, who was battling for the win in open category with Henot, but was outsprinted in the last metres of the race. The best Portuguese ocean racing paddler Pereira was still happy as he won another U23 European Champion title and enriched his already rich medals collection. Pereira was in the finish line almost three minutes ahead of Pablo St. Mary (ESP) and almost five minutes ahead of Josep Cifre (ESP) who finished third.
"This is a second home for me. It was predicted the downwind outside, but what we got were some laps inside the big harbour. We had some downwind. It feels good to win a medal here. Let's hope now for the Worlds in my first home, which is Madeira. It was not ideal, everybody knows that in the organisation, but it is what it was possible and safe for everybody. By looking at others, no one is crying or being sad, I see everybody happy, which is good. That means they had fun that's the important, and the min part is that everybody is here safe," said Pereira at the end of the competition.
The races in other events were not official European Championships events as not enough countries were entered in the respective races according to the rules to recognise these events as official European Championships.


RESULTS: https://memosoft.spotfokus.com/timetable/index.php?page=eventdetail&folder=103&gmt=2&gmt2=-120