Chris Draper and Simon Hiscocks won the 49er European championship. Next stop for the British pair is the Athens for the Olympic Games

Chris Draper and 2000 Olympic silver medallist Simon Hiscocks who will represent Great Britain next month at the 2004 Olympic Games in the 49er class, have won gold at the 49er European Championships in Torbole, Lake Garda.

The championship took place over five days last week in a range of conditions making for exciting and close racing. The fleet lost one day due to a lack of wind in the middle of the week so had to endure some early starts the last few days to try and make up the races that were lost.

Draper and Hiscocks sailed well throughout the 12 races and placed in the top five in eight races, counting one race win amongst their score line. This consistency, which is one of the key factors in this class, meant that they went into the final day of the championship in second place overall and managed to pull through to win the championship by four points from Michael Hestbek and Dennis Andersen of Denmark. Australian sailors Chris Nicholson and Gary Boyd were just one point behind and finished third overall.

Fellow British 49er sailors Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes also sailed a great championship, and with three eighth places on the final day they moved up the leader board to finish in fifth place overall and fourth Europeans. Team mates Alister Richardson and Alex Tobutt finished 12th.

Draper and Hiscocks will now move on to Athens were they have just over a month to continue training before the Olympic Games commence on the 14 August. Racing for the 49er class starts on Monday 16 August and concludes on Thursday 26 August. At the Olympic Games 16 races are scheduled for the 49er class.

Results – gold fleet

1, Chris Draper/Simon Hiscocks, GBR (2,4,1,2,4,7,4,(9),5,(18),3,9) 41 pts

2, Michael Hestbek/Dennis Andersen, DEN (1,1,3,5,2,(22),(21),6,8,5,4,10) 45 pts

3, Chris Nicholson/Gary Boyd, AUS (1,1,2,8,4,11,6,7,2,4,(22),(12)) 46 pts

Other GBR

5, Stevie Morrison/Ben Rhodes (3,2,4,5,(12),9,1,4,(12),8,8,8) 51 pts

12, Alister Richardson/Alex Tobutt (5,1,2,1,13,(20),12,18,4,(20),9,3) 68 pts

22, James McIntosh/Philip Kennard (2,9,8,7,7,14,8,21,(22),6,(23),22) 104 pts