Massive test at RS:X World Champs
Published on February 26th, 2020
Victoria, AUS (February 26, 2020) – The second day of the RS:X World Championships started wet and ended wild as a front passed over Port Philip Bay bringing rain and strong winds.
For the 116 competitors watching the dark storm clouds pass over the Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club, the skies were ominous for the day ahead, as were the squally showers – but the day ended with some wild racing under glorious sunshine, albeit a setting sun towards the end of the day as the women came ashore late in the afternoon.
With racing scheduled for 13:00 local time, the race committee were initially loath to send the sailors out in the 25 knot breeze. Instead, (once the Australian submarine had exited the race area), all of the fleets were sent out following a short delay ashore.
The offshore breeze meant that the conditions directly in front of the club did not reflect the conditions further out in the bay by the race course so it was a surprise to be met with a sharp short chop as well as very gusty conditions. As the sailors started to get ready to start racing, another dirty squall came through bringing gusts of over 35 knots and the sailors went sent back to shore to wait for more benign conditions.
After just over an hour ashore, the two men’s qualifying fleets were sent out to test the water and were greeted with a solid 20 knots average wind with some big puffs of wind still rolling over the course area. The race team did a superb job in setting a course and getting all of the scheduled races in for the men and women in conditions which proved challenging at times for most of the sailors at some point in the day.
On coming ashore it was reigning World champion Kiran Badloe from the Netherlands that had the best day and blew the fleet away scoring a dominant 2, 1, 1. Coupled with his 2, 1, 2 from the opening day’s racing, Badloe is in a very strong position at the halfway stage of the event and carries a second place as his discard. With Badloe not yet confirmed for Tokyo 2020, he is making a compelling case for his first Olympics.
Behind Badloe, Poland’s Pawel Tarnowski also put in a strong shift on the water to finish with scores of 3, 1, 1 and sits in second place overall but has the double Olympic champion in Dorian van Rijsselberghe just a point behind in third place having scored a consistent 2, 3, 3 from today’s big breeze encounter. Van Rijsselberghe is carrying an 18th place as his discard and cannot afford to have any more mishaps if he wants to challenge for his third world title.
Further back down the fleet, the selection battles are getting very interesting. Israel’s Tom Reuveny was the best of the Israelis and scored 3, 3, 5 to sit in fourth place overall and consolidate his lead over Shahar Zubari who is in seventh overall. Between Reuveny and Zubari sit a duo of Frenchmen in Thomas Goyard and Louis Giard. A little further back is overnight leader, Pierre le Coq, also from France, who dropped down the scoreboard to eight overall having scored 10, 10, 11.
“I had a good day, it was very strong winds today,” noted Reuveny. “I had good starts, good speed and good tactics which meant I had three strong races. Our selection battle is really close, we all have a chance to go to Tokyo depending on how we do here. I think it will be until the last race of this event to decide who will be on top.”
The women were up next and were released from the beach at 16:00 local time – knowing that they were going to be finishing late after a long wait ashore. The wind had dropped a little by this point in the afternoon, but the gusts still had a sting to their tail as they hit the high 20s in windspeed.
Replicating Badloe’s score line was Israel’s Noy Drihan who also scored a near perfect 2, 1, 1 to outclass all of her rivals for the day. Drihan has catapulted up the leaderboard to sit at the top, just a single point ahead of yesterday’s leader Maja Dziarnowska from Poland who is in second.
But with a 21st yesterday, Drihan has a significantly worse discard though and will need to maintain her consistency if she wants to challenge for the podium come Saturday. Lilian de Geus from the Netherlands is in third overall, five points behind the top two women.
With six races now completed, the race discard played a big part of the leaderboard shakeup, and it will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next two days with regards to overall positions. Italy’s Marta Maggetti in fourth place overall is discarding a 24th place whilst Emma Wilson from Great Britain in fifth place overall is only discarding a 10th place. This could be crucial as sailors jostle for their medal race spots.
“It was a long day,” admitted Wilson. “We got three races in today in 15 to 25 knots. It was tough racing. The quality here is really high, if you are here you are trying to get qualified for the Olympics so it’s good racing, except that the Chinese sailors aren’t here which is a real shame because they are really good.”
In the athlete selection battles, there are a number of favorites starting to emerge for different countries. Drihan would look to have the Israel spot, but 2019 World silver medalist Katy Spychakov is keeping in touch and sits in sixth place and is ready to pounce on any mistake made by her compatriot. This is also the case for the Polish ladies where Dziarnowska looks to have her flight to Tokyo already booked, but Zofia Noceti-Klepacka remains within striking distance and will be looking to make up some of the points deficit over the next few days’ worth of racing.
Representing Mexico are Ignacio Berenguer (48th) and Mariana Aguilar Chavez Peon (30th), with both to also compete Tokyo 2020. Olympic selection continues for the USA men with Pedro Pascual (33rd) leading in the system over Geronimo Nores (28th) while Canadian Nikola Girke (35th) leads Olivia Mew (42nd). As the lone USA woman, Farrah Hall (28th) will secure her nomination for Tokyo by merely competing.
Racing tomorrow sees the men’s fleet divide into gold and silver fleet for two more days whilst the women will remain in their single fleet. For those wanting to win the world title, they need to get in the top ten before the medal race on February 29. The forecast for the remainder of the week currently looks to be for strong winds which will suit the current leaders but the chasing sailors will be keen to prove that theory wrong.
Format: The men race in two fleets for qualifying before splitting into gold and silver fleets while the women race in a single fleet throughout the championship. The five day series is from February 25 to 29.
Source: RS:X Class