Antonia and Victoria Schultheis secured a very prestigious result for Maltese sport on Sunday when the young sisters secured a bronze medal among the European fleet in the 49ERFX class at the European Sailing Championships held in Thessaloniki, Greece.
The Malta Young Sailors Club duo were one of four teams who were battling for a bronze medal as only four points separated them heading into the Gold Fleet race.
Polish duo Aleksandra Melzacka and Sandra Jankowiak stood the best chance as they only needed a boat in between their rivals to win the bronze medal between the bunch.
Canada’s Georgia and Antonia Lewin-Lafrance and Johanne and Andrea Schmidt of Denmark split directions after the start of the Gold Fleet race with the Danish winning the pin and the Canadians taking right after a Port Tack Option start.
The Schultheis sisters and the Polish team came off the line on starboard and headed left, leaving only the Canadians on the far right.
One by one, as the top of the beat, unfolded it seemed like the left boats were behind the right boats, and that proved out as the Italian team, formed by Jana Germani and Giorgia Bertuzzi, and the Canadians rounded one, two, followed tightly by the rest of the teams
The downwind proved little but most teams seemed to change tactics for the second beat, sticking to the left-hand side of the course.
The Canadians rounded clearly and then covered the Schultheis sisters up the beat.
The Dutch took over second place, but Canada’s Lewin-LaFrance sisters, Georgia and Antonia, held off the Maltese team and took third in the medal race, and won the Bronze medal.
Victoria and Antonia Schultheis just missed out on a place on the podium in the overall standings when they finished fourth overall but placed third among the European teams in the competition.
It’s the first sailing medal at Europeans in an Olympic class for Malta won by Victoria and Antonia Schultheis after gold, silver and bronze medals in World- and European Championships in Optimist, 29er and Waszp.
This was an impressive result for the Schultheis sisters, who are only 20- and 18-years-old respectively, and for them, this was their first major participation in the Olympic class and no doubt it’s a very encouraging start in their quest for qualification for the Paris Olympics in 2024.