Dark and Stormy day as titles claimed

Thunder, lightning and rain greeted the 220 competitors arriving at Sopot Sailing Club on day 4 of the RS:X Europeans and Youth Europeans. Sopot, Poland has provided a daily challenge for the competitors and today was no exception with racing delayed for three hours as storm cells passed over Gdansk Bay. These finally cleared to allow a light breeze to wisp its way over the race areas and develop and build to perfect, if not slightly damp, conditions for windsurfing.

With the risk of more afternoon storms due later in the afternoon, the race management team were quick to grasp the opportunity and sent the fleets out for three races each in the late afternoon. These races would be vital for the competition, allowing for a second discard to be applied as well as giving those sailors on the cusp of the top ten a chance to push in to the medal races tomorrow – 11th is an agonising position with this format.

Poland’s Zofia Noceti-Klepacka is the new European Champion following another consistent display on the RS:X board where beyond a bit of a slow start in the first race of the championships, she has not strayed outside of the top five. Noceti-Klepacka scored 5, 4, 3 to finish the day with the best results alongside Maya Morris from Israel who scored to 2, 6, 4 to elevate herself to 4th overall, 7 points adrift of the medals.

Stefania Elfutina from Russia had an indifferent set of results winning the second race but would rather forget the other two which are blots on an otherwise consistent scorecard – Elfutina remains in second place but is only a point ahead of Great Britain’s Emma Wilson in third. Wilson herself also had a mixed day and managed to cling onto her overall position thanks to a race win in the final race of the series.

Wilson, Morris and Noy Drihan from Israel are also the top three contenders for the under 21 title although with all three in contention for their first senior championship medals this is likely where their focus will lie. Wai Yan Ngai from Hong Kong is the only non-European in the top ten medal race and is the seventh nation represented which shows the depth of the countries able to challenge for medals in the class.

Morris on making her first senior medal race, “Today was a long day on the water, pretty hard mentally with the delay this morning but a good day for me. The second discard helped me today which was good. This is my first senior medal race so its going to be interesting and its tight on points with lots of good girls – I will just try and race my own race and see.”

The men’s title is all but sewn up by Italian Mattia Camboni who has an 18 point lead over Yoav Omer from Israel. This means that Camboni has to start cleanly and not finish last in order to take the tile. The good news for Camboni is that Omer is likely to be distracted by the board behind him rather than challenging for gold – Omer is leading a trio of Israelis who include Shahar Zubari in third overall and Yoav Cohen in fourth overall.

With six different sailors able to effectively win silver or bronze, the battle on the water and the tactics of the sailors will be interesting to watch due to the number of different finishing position permutations. Omer and Cohen are guaranteed of the gold and silver in the under 21 division but, like the women, will be chasing the all-important senior medals instead.

Zubari has clawed his way back into medal contention this week, “Everybody is super strong this week and fighting for every point. I had a solid week, of course I have lost places here and there but I am happy with the week. I really hope my experience tomorrow will help, Omer and Cohen are fit and have trained really hard for this so hopefully I will have a good race.”

In a twist of fortunes within the youth men, Yun Pouliquen from France has leap-frogged week long leader Fabien Pianazza, also from France, to go into the medal race with a 12 point lead and a guaranteed silver medal. Pianazza may rue his premature start from yesterday which means he will carry his abnormal 16th place in todays final race in his results through to tomorrow. Italy’s Nicolo Renna also had an out of character day scoring a 19, 29 , 5 to drop down to fifth from second and holds only an outside chance of bronze tomorrow.

France have been dominant in this fleet, mainly through Pianazza, but there are a total six French sailors in the medal race. Israel, Italy and Greece are the three other nations represented and it is Israel’s Itai Kafri that holds third overall.

Giorgia Speciale from Italy continued her assertive form and bossed the youth women to take another two race wins, secure herself a 21 point overnight lead and guarantee herself the European title with a race to spare. This is the same kind of form that saw her win the RS:X Youth Worlds title in July as well as the Techno Europeans early on in the year. Polish sailors Lidia Sulikowska and Weronika Marciniak sit in second and third overall

Linoy Geva has had an exceptional week and was challenging for a podium position until an off colour day today which dropped her down to sixth overall. Geva however has won the under 17 title this week and given she is the youngest competitor in the top ten, she can hold her head high this week from a really strong performance.

Sulikowska on the racing, “Today was really tricky, its been really tricky all week. I got a sixth and a fourth which I was pleased given the conditions today which is good news ahead of the medal race tomorrow. I have tried to be consistent this week which I am really happy with. It will be an interesting race with Weronika tomorrow and many things may happen so I will just try and be fast.”

The medal races are scheduled from 1200 onwards and will be able to be watched via the tracking system online. Whilst some titles have been awarded, these top ten shootouts always provide drama at some level as the fighting for points and medals continues down to the very last pump of the sail.

Medal Race Schedule

Women                      1100

Men                            1130

Youth Women          1200

Youth Men                1230

Text: Bas Edmonds / RS:X Class

Photos: Robert Hajduk / Shuttersail.com

RESULTS will be available when race commences here – http://www.rsxclass.org/europeans2018/

WATCH the tracking online when racing commences here –

http://RSX.SailRacer.org

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