Post-match analysis highlights much from the final positions that the top five teams in the world finished. But one thing was certain after studying interviews, talking to participants and simple logic... that this was no ordinary event. It was also confirmation that when a venue is as even as this one was, then 'cream will alway rise to the surface'. That's to say the most experienced and technical teams will always come to the top!

No such luck this time!
Unlike Spinadesco and Merida, where England stole a march on Italy with stunning day one performances, this year found them out and the position was reversed! For so long had England found a 'feed' back door to many of the previous world championship venues. This year was different. Even though they had established a good rapport with the canals residents, during their pre-practice week, they undoubtadely failed to latch onto what the Italians, and those nations who eventually finished above them, were up to with their feeding strategies.

Below are some scenes of bait preparation and a bait inspection, captured by our roving cameraman.

Hindsights a wonderous thing!
As we've mentioned before, hindsight's a wonderful thing, the only problem with it is you can't use it before you get it! Had this been so, then England would almost certainly have made more of a race of it! It's clear from discussions with the two Marks', Steve Gardener and Jan Van Schendel that feeding was at the heart of any successful challenge for top honours, especially on the 13m line. Even so the question remained, why did the team not cotton on to it after the first day? Mark Downes freely admitted that going into the final day, things in the team were still not clearly defined, with confidence still lacking. Steve also pointed to this, through that valuable commodity called hindsight, in an exclusive, extensive and in-depth video interview with us at the end of this article. In some respects it explains how the Championship went for some of the main teams a little clearer, we hope you find it so. Steve also puts the record straight on what many viewed as his surprising exclusion from the first days competition, and he goes on to add his thoughts on what his future holds.

The future's bright, the future's Orange?
The Dutch must have been delighted with their performance on day one. To finish just 2pts behind favourites Italy was an immense performance and one which must surely have prayed on a few of their minds during the final hours of competition! We spoke to Jan Van Schendel, via email, on his return to Holland and he gave us, like Steve above, a candid response which we show below:
The final day, and Holland's Jo Adriolo hopes to duplicate his day one section win.The final day, and Holland's Jo Adriolo hopes to duplicate his day one section win.

DJ: Hi Jan, I hope you have got over the disappointment of Italy. I was particularly looking forward to your boys pushing the Italians all the way for that gold medal. Perhaps some other time then?

Do you think you could recap, via email, on how Holland got so close on day one and how they fell away on the final day, after seemingly having a brilliant draw.

JVS: We were in Ostellato with the whole team more than half a week before the start of the practise-week. This match was actually in all our minds for 2 years. We then came to this venue on the annual Van den Eynde Memorial that is fished here every March. Nearly all the people that were here now fished then as well, and everybody couldn’t wait to get back because Ostellato truly is one of the best venues we’ve ever seen.

We had a good idea about the fishing before we arrived and the thing I liked best was that we were drawing our own conlusions all the time, some of which proved to be different than what the other teams were doing. All the time during practise we had a good feeling about what we were doing and we became more confident each day.

The feeding tactics we used were totally different than what we normally do when fishing for bream. We threw by hand between 10 and 15 balls of neat groundbait with only a few dead maggots in and a very small amount of chopped worms. We didn’t use any casters at all. On top of that we cupped about a dozen little balls with jokers and a few bloodworms in. We didn’t use that much bait at all really, maybe 250ml to start with and less then that for topping-up during the match.

This was the biggest difference between ourselves and other teams as we believed topping up during the match was good, whereas many others thought differently and waited as long as possible before cupping in anything.

I was in A section on the first day where Jo Adriolo had all the top teams, bar Belgium, in his sub-sector. He had a reasonable start, but certainly wasn’t leading after about an hour. I remembered mentioning about topping-up and Jo started to do this on a regular basis, while others waited. Good for Jo and us, because he overtook everybody to win the sector.
Left: Jo in action during his day one winning spree. Right: Jo's day two 10.77kg haul from D2Left: Jo in action during his day one winning spree. Right: Jo's day two 10.77kg haul from D2With respect for everyone competing, I was convinced that this match would be won with very few points, because there would be five or maximum six nations that would be better at this style of fishing than the rest.

After the first day I was, of course, very pleased about our brilliant day but also I knew that our one medium result (7th) counterbalanced our other results and a simple look at the results proved we were, with our four section wins, lying only second and not that far in front of at least two other nations. A medal therefore was far from certain. On the other hand, we were only 2 points behind the leaders and, rightly or wrongly, I was convinced that we could also win.

The second day worked out so unbelieveably frustrating! On paper we had at least two very good pegs... the last peg in E and also a very good peg in D. We had two of our most experienced anglers on them and I actually thought that Dieter Friederichs could win individually. I knew also that our draw in A sector was not so good so that’s where I decided to be.
Last man in the line, Dieter Friederichs balls-in at the start of the final day.Last man in the line, Dieter Friederichs balls-in at the start of the final day.
I had hoped that the fish would have spread out a bit there by now. There's something else, the good areas on the first day were always areas where some of the better teams on this type of fishing were sat together. The problem in A sector was that these teams were on the right numbers from the day before. We were some pegs away from them. Jurgen Spierings, our man there, caught the most fish in his sector but the fish were far too small and he managed only 7th place.

Our results on the second day were actually not bad at all, but just not good enough for the podium. In the end we got 22 points on the day, certainly not good enough to win, but as it worked out, some of the teams lying not too far behind us after day one had much better results, which made the whole finish very close. Somebody had to suffer and history once more proved that it was us... No medal and a big disappointment.

The first journalist I spoke to after the match asked me what went wrong, a question I have had put to me a lot of times now. An understandeable question, of course, that I cannot answer better than with the following words: We scored 33 points in total, an average therefore of 3.3pts per man/sector each day. We had four anglers in the top 15, and from all our nineteen neighbours, each side of us, that we had over the two days (just one end peg) we beat them all. The first day proves that we were good enough for at least a medal, but we simply don’t have one! Look back at nearly every championship result from the past and you’ll see where a country normally ends with 33 points!

This match was dominated by four countries that were about on par with each other. Italy proved too good and also I have great respect for the result of the Hungarians. The Belgians are top quality and they had an excellent second day. We did very well also, but so did these countries.
Hungary recieve their silver team medal while the boys from Belgium, Guido and Andy, give me the thumbs UP!Hungary recieve their silver team medal while the boys from Belgium, Guido and Andy, give me the thumbs UP!I am of course extremely disappointed, but at the same time proud of my team. I know that we have never had better co-operation and understanding within the team and I've never had such a talented group of anglers to work with. The future looks very good for us. We have not fished our best match yet!

DJ: I have just one other question regarding the feeding strategy... what can you tell me about a particular top-up ball that some call 'pongo', apparently the Italians were reported to have used it?

As far as I know, it's basically damp leam with as much water in it as possible, then loads of grey leam is added until it's like rock-hard... and it takes ages to break down.

I believe the Belgians may also have used something like that.

And you're quite right, that venue was one of the best I've ever scene and only wish we could have one like it in the UK, because I would be fishing it EVERY week!!!

JVS: I know what you mean about pongo.

We were next to the Italians during the practise week an also had them near to us a few times. I saw that they were trying out all kinds of different things then. So did we and I was honestly convinced that the system we were using with our topping-up balls was as good as anybody's.

I don't know the exact ins and outs about this pongo. All I do know is that no grey leam can possibly be involved because the Italians don't use that. They use different kinds of bentonite, but I am not so sure whether that plays a big role in this.

I spoke to Gabba after the competition. He is a great friend and someone who is always very helpful. We spoke about both our tactics and I was surprised to hear how differently they fished, compared to us.

Ferruccio Gabba discusses something about his rigs with the Ukraine's Sergii Burdak and one of the Tubertini Lenza Emilliana team members.Ferruccio Gabba discusses something about his rigs with the Ukraine's Sergii Burdak and one of the Tubertini Lenza Emilliana team members.I had worked out, on previous visits to Ostellato, that there were two different fishing strategies that both were very succesfull there. There are two main teams in Italy, Oltrarno Colmic and also the Tubertini Lenza Emilliana team. I watched Falsini and Gabba on the same day and it was surprising to see how different they fished and fed.
What we actually decided to base our tactics on was the 'Gabba-way' of fishing. This meant not too far overdepth and feeding as I described in our tactics in my last mail to you. Falsini fished and fed very different. A lot further overdepth and more feed at the start with less topping up.

I don't know how it got to this, but the way they fished in the championships was definitely the Falsini way. I couldn't believe when Gabba told me they had all fished 30 to 50cm overdepth. He was never doing that when I watched him. We have a saying that says that "there are always more ways leading to Rome". In this case there were different yet succesful tactics!

There's something else important to consider as well, that is the quality of the anglers that have to put the tactics into practise. I can't be more clear other than saying that it makes a big difference whether the angler involved is English/Italian or, for example, Bosnian/Austrian, or something like that.

We missed out on a medal, but not because of our tactics, I'm totally convinced of that. The only thing I can't understand is the logic behind the Italians fishing that far overdepth! It seems a recipe for even more foulhooked fish, and there were already so many.

Our thanks go to Jan and his teaml, for playing their part in a spectacular and nail-biting event.


So what does it all mean for the rest of the world?

Some things could still possibly be improved within the structure of these championships. Namely the split sections and the question over whether the rank and file competitors are happy with it. I'm aware that there are many who see these championships as a platform for improving there own standings within their respective countries. Their point being, “how can this be valid and creditable for me if I fish in a sector with very few of the world's best teams alongside me?” If you look through the sector sheets you will see what I'm getting at. I counted approximately two on Saturday and five on Sunday that contained less than 50% of the top fnations. In fact one sector on Sunday didn't have a single top five nation drawn in it! Perhaps my original comments, after Holland, regarding 'seeding ' would be more appropriate and acceptable to the 'troops' on the ground?

What about the 'also-rans'?
I've already mentioned about the South Africans and their unfamiliarity with the species at Ostellato. It's fair to also mention Portugal, USA and perhaps Spain in the same breath. Certainly there's no sniff of a skimmer in the first two countries and probably also the last. So congratulations must surely go to them all for dealing with such strange species!

Special mention is added to the most powerful nation in the world, unfortunately for them not where angling's concerned... the USA. Normally when this team has competed there has been some element of previous experience within the group. This year, apart from their captain Mark Green, there was precious little. To arrive at one of these championships almost 'naked' took nerve (not too mention plenty of cash!) and praise must be alloted to them for placing themselves in the firing line. Something they usually don't shy away from! Their best angler was obviously their captain, but the rest can stand tall as well, as they avoided the 'wooden spoon' and even tied with the 2009 champions (they actually beat them on weight!!!). If that's doesn't give them encouragement for the future, then nothing will.

Sacré bleu!
Other teams disappointed and one can only wonder what went through the minds of France, Ireland, and we've already made mention of the 2009 Champions Slovakia. All these teams where surely much more capable of a better showing than their final positions revealed. I know that Ireland has been in a little turmoil since last year and undergone some changes in it's personnel with unfamiliar figures gracing the bank this year. However, the biggest shock of all were this years Euro Champs, France. Sacré bleu.. how was this possible? No doubt we shall add some enlightening information on this outcome when our French media partner, InfoPeche, next rolls off the print press!

Fit for purpose?
We've previously commented on the nature of the championships with regard to the top teams finishing at the top and how it confirmed the quality of the chosen venue. I cannot remember in recent times when all the top teams finished together (albeit in different order) each day of the championships... remarkable, to say the least. This factor also highlights the importance of producing a venue fit for purpose. We've seen the bad, the good and the downright ugli. But we've also seen what can be achieved when a nation puts it's mind on supplying a product, which recommends angling to the world.

Hard luck stories!
There were no noticeable areas where this applied as getting it wrong didn't constitute a hard luck event! I suppose the only one which jumps out and bites you is the one where Germany's young introductee had his net snagged on a submerged obstruction and he ended up ripping a big hole in the bottom, to which the captive inside were most grateful for! We know, from our partners at Champions-team, that this young man was absolutely gutted afterwards as he had more than enough to send him nearer top than bottom in his sector. Now that's what I call a Hard Luck story!

What more can we say?
We've heard Jan's explanation of Holland's failure to capitalise on their remarkable first day, also Steve Gardener giving his thoughts afterwards. But in reality Ferruccio Gabba probably summed up it up best when he explained that Italy had to win here, defeat would have been inconceivable and unacceptable to the 'Azzurri' and their followers. The work Italy put into this particular events can only be imagined, but their will to win it not so hard to imagine!

We have, coming up next year, a return to Ciudad Real for the European Champs and likewise a return to the River Morava in the Czech Republic, both of which promise much... let's hope they can deliver like Ostellato did. Until then...

Grazi Italia... Grazi mille Ostellato!

As promised, we have a special interview with England's Steve Gardener after his return to the UK, where he recounts events in Italy which left England 'medal-less'.