Dutch dominate European medal races
Medal race day at the 2019 RS:X Windsurfing Europeans and Youth Europeans turned into a blast around Palma bay as Mallorca turned it on to end the championships in epic fashion. For the 333 competitors taking part in the final race of the event, it was a short postponement ashore before a perfect 12-15 knots filled in for the medal races. As the breeze built, the race officers decided to use the reaching start courses which allowed the competitors to blast off the start to the first mark – a spectacular sight to watch as the top ten sailors hit the line at full planning speed!
Lilian de Geus from the Netherlands is European Champion as she had a spectacular climax in the medal race with a win and also takes the open title from Yunxiu Lu from China. Emma Wilson from Great Britain was second European after France’s Charlene Picon capsized at the start and failed to recover during the race. Picon finished 9th in the race and ends the regatta fourth overall and third European.
De Geus is now both the World and European Champion and after her disappointment from Rio 2016, she has her eyes firmly on Tokyo, “I feel like Ive grown into this regatta, I had a slow start and my starts were poor early on but I got better as I got into the event. I didn’t have any first places so it was nice to go out and win the medal race. The (medal) race was fun, the start was a little messy but I enjoyed the reaching start which is a good addition. I am just continuing on what I’m doing and having fun and hope I can get a medal in Tokyo.”
For Wilson, who retained her Under 21 title, it was a chance to go one better from last year where she took bronze at the 2018 European Championships. Wilson on the medal race, “That was a pretty fun medal race, planning the whole race and it wasn’t too gusty or shifty which was nice after the conditions this week. I could only go up in the rankings so had nothing to lose. I knew I was pretty quick so just had to sail smart.”
Rounding out the Under 21 podium was Katy Spychakov from Israel and Noy Drihan also from Israel.
Kiran Badloe (Netherlands) was guaranteed a medal coming into today – he just needed to figure out which colour he was going to go home with. The only competitor that could stop him getting the gold was Dorian van Rijsselberge and even then Badloe would need to finish 6 places behind van Rijsselberge – an unlikely scenario.
It was however van Rijsselberge who did all he could do by taking the medal race win. Van Rijsselberge on the race, “We had a super nice breeze and I really enjoyed the reaching start. It was a good week for us. Kieran is going super fast at the moment so I will need to keep up. I was rusty coming into this week, its come back slowly over the week and the planning conditions helped as I am one of the bigger guys here, so its nice to come away with a medal. Its really nice to see Kiran win these championships and I am really proud to see him develop – I need to work hard though to beat him.”
Thomas Goyard from France got better throughout the week and overtook compatriot Louis Giard in the final days of the event and during the medal race did enough to secure the bronze medal. Goyard on the week, “I didn’t realise I would get a medal this week. It was a tough competition with difficult winds this week so I am stoked to make it to the podium. I am feeling stronger and working hard on my fitness so hopefully I can over take the Dutch sailors at the Worlds in Torbole.”
In the Youth women it was Heloise Macquaert who was sadly the biggest loser from the race as she dropped from first to third after coming ninth in the medal race. It was Naama Gazit from Israel who clawed her way into first with an impressive third place in the medal race to secure the Youth women European title. Linoy Geva (Israel) finished second in the medal race and second overall with Macquaert in third overall.
Gazit on her week, “I had a good start in the race which settled my nerves as I was really nervous going into the race. I had to keep close to the French girl (Macquaert) to win. I had a good week as I like strong winds so this week really suited me.”
The Youth women Under 17 title went to Manon Pianazza (France) as she finished strongly to end her regatta with a 4th place in medal race. Pianazza just edged out Sharon Kantor (Israel) who finishes second in the Under 17 fleet.
In the Youth Men title race, it was Frenhman Fabien Pianazza who took the title by just a single point from Italy’s Nicolo Renna. Renna did everything he could do by winning the medal race and was reliant on having a board between himself and Pianazza to take the title. However Pianazza was relentless in his desire for the title and pushed all the way around the race course to take second in the medal race and claim the Youth men European title. Yun Pouliquen from France stands on the third step of the podium after a consistent week where Vardimon Tomer from Israel, having started so strongly on the first day, faded to just off the podium in fourth place.
In the Under 17 fleet, Daniel Basik Tashtash had already secured the title going into todays racing – Tashtash accrediting himself well with a fifth place finish in the medal race and whopping 170 point lead over the second placed Under 17 sailor, Ioannis Karvouniaris from Greece.
The RS:X Class would like to thank all of the staff and volunteers at the Club Nautic Arenal who have provided excellent race management, shoreside facilities and lots of smiles in helping deliver the biggest RS:X event to date – thank you!
The sailors move on to Hyeres next in two weeks time before a little break. With the World Championships in Torbole, Italy, competitors will be looking to get some training in on Lake Garda where the next round of Olympic qualification spots will be offered up for the taking.
Event website: http://www.rsxclass.org/europeans2019
Text: RS:X Class
Photo: Sailing Energy