Head on a swivel day at RS:X Worlds
Published on February 27th, 2020
Victoria, AUS (February 27, 2020) – After the big winds yesterday at the RS:X World Championships, the third day of racing today defied the forecast 20 knot winds and presented a much calmer Port Philip Bay for the 116 competitors.
However, looks can be deceptive. Where yesterday was a straightforward hook-in and blast off type day, the race course today was like a scene out of a Mockingjay film – a series of cleverly crafted traps that could catch out even the top sailors.
The wind shifts were deceptive, the gusts would lull sailors into complacency and the tide caught nearly every sailor out when judging laylines – a differently brutal race course compared to yesterday, but one that served up a full schedule of three topsy-turvy races.
The women were up first today and it was Charline Picon from France, the reigning Olympic Champion from Rio, who recovered from a difficult first two days to post the day’s best scoreline of 1, 1, 6 and climb up to seventh overall. Picon has had a difficult week so far but today showed that she still has what it takes to challenge for a medal in five months’ time come Tokyo 2020.
Overnight leader, Noy Drihan from Israel, scored a consistent 5, 3, 3 to retain her lead going into tomorrow. However, Drihan will need to hold off the charge from Dutchwoman Lilian de Geus who has climbed up the leader board again today after a disappointing first race, where de Geus scored an 18th place.
Since then, de Geus has not placed outside of the top sixth and has taken two race wins. Behind de Geus it is Maja Dziarnowska from Poland and Emma Wilson from Great Britain who are challenging each other for third place overall – with the Pole having a slight lead over the British sailor.
“It was a lot of fun racing today,” admitted De Geus. “It was quite difficult on the course, quite a lot of gusts and shifts which made it interesting. I hope I can do better than last year where I came third (at the 2019 World Championships) but all of the girls are sailing really well here and I hope to battle to the end of this week. We have had a windy week so far which I like but I don’t mind some light winds too.”
There are seven different nations in the top ten of the women’s fleet but also a big spread between Drihan in first place overall and Karolina Lipinska from Poland in tenth place overall, so the likely medal contenders are starting to emerge from the fleet.
The men endured an equally difficult day and finally Kiran Badloe from the Netherlands blemished his scorecard with an 11th place in the second race of today. Either side of that though, the tall Dutchman managed to keep his championship bid firmly on track with a win in the first race of the day and a win in the last race of the day. It will take a herculean effort from the chasing pack to take the title away from Badloe, even with two days of racing left to go.
Double Olympic Champion, Dorian van Rijsselberghe from the Netherlands, is one of the chasing pack who may have let the title slip though his fingers today – sitting in fourth place overall, carrying 38 points and is a whopping 27 points behind Badloe.
Van Rijsselberghe had a poor first race taking a 25th place before bouncing back to score a 3rd and 5th in the remaining two races. He has really run out of lives in this event having picked up his two drops, the second of which will kick in if tomorrow’s racing is run to schedule. Van Rijsselberghe now has to score at least in the top five for every race tomorrow if he is to have any realistic chance of claiming the Championship.
Poland’s Pawel Tarnowski had a difficult day, scoring 16, 19, 2, but just clings onto second overall with 36 points.
“It was hard today to keep in the top ten as the conditions were very shifty,” said Tarnowski. “I had a second in the last race but the first two races were not so good for me. I didn’t pay too much attention to the tide as the wind was most important. Kiran is really fast and he made smart choices today. I enjoy racing against him. To beat him I will need to make good choices and I think I have good speed too.”
Within the selection battles that are going on, Israel’s Shahar Zubari had a strong day and has moved up to third place overall having scored a 2, 1, 12 for the day. Zubari has leapfrogged fellow country man Reuveny who drops to sixth overall but is the leading under 21 sailor.
The battle between the top three French sailors is also no closer to being resolved. Thomas Goyard, Pierre le Coq and Louis Giard all had a difficult race at some point today and there are only 7 points separating Goyard in fifth overall to Giard in ninth overall.
Representing Mexico are Ignacio Berenguer (17th in silver) and Mariana Aguilar Chavez Peon (36th), with both to also compete Tokyo 2020. Olympic selection continues for the USA men with Pedro Pascual (32nd) leading in the system over Geronimo Nores (24th) while Canadian Nikola Girke (33rd) leads Olivia Mew (42nd). As the lone USA woman, Farrah Hall (35th) will secure her nomination for Tokyo by merely competing.
Tomorrow is the last chance for sailors to make the top ten to qualify for the medal race on February 29. The forecast is for lighter winds, potentially non-planing, which normally shakes the fleet up and could see another shuffle of the leader board.
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