With five sailors in striking distance of the gold medal and seven mathematically alive for a podium position, the Medal Race for the Women’s RS:X at the 2018 World Cup Series Miami, USA, was projected to be the most exciting of the five Medal Races scheduled for the penultimate day of the regatta.
And it delivered with abundant speed and excitement in champagne sailing conditions on Biscayne Bay.
When the spray cleared, Hélène Noesmoen (FRA, center) was zipping across the finish line in first in excess of 20 knots and, in the process, moving from fourth to first in the overall standings. Rounding out the medals were Flavia Tartaglini (ITA, left) and Blanca Manchon (ESP, right).
“Today was windy, and I think that is my strong point,” said Noesmoen. “I tried to keep consistent during the week and really push myself in the Medal Race, and it paid off. I had a bad second day, I think that was due to the wind conditions, which dropped me to the middle of the [results] table. But I had an amazing third day, which kept me in the top 10 and allowed me to compete at the Medal Race.”
The turning point in the double-points Medal Race came on the first downwind leg when Stefania Elfutina (RUS), the defending Olympic bronze medalist and regatta leader going into the day, caught the edge of her board after leaping off a wave and crashed into the water. It the time it took her to recover her sail and get going again, five sailors-and her medal chances-passed her by. One of those zipping past was Noesmoen, who rounded the second of five marks in sixth place. While the breeze velocity was quite steady, there were gains to be made by playing the shifts correctly. On the third leg, Noesmoen found an elevator to the podium, moving to second and then to first for the final two legs of the race.
“This race was going well for me until I crashed on the first downwind close to the gate,” said Elfutina. “I’m not sure what happened. I’m trying not to feel disappointed with myself. I enjoyed this regatta and my races. I learned a lot of things on the water. I can’t really say what I learned [about preventing what happened in the final race], it’s just an instinct that your body adjusts to on the water, and it becomes a reflex.”
RS:X Women’s Medal Race Video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZRbTOSYkvM
(Best ever Medal Race Live coverage and exciting battle by RS:X girls! Great job by World Sailing!)
With a second in the Medal Race in the Men’s RS:X, Kiran Badloe (NED) broke up a potential one-two finish for France. But it would’ve taken a perfect race and quite a bit of help from the rest of the fleet to unseat Louis Giard (FRA) who started the final race with a 13-point advantage. Tom Squires (GBR) won the race. Pierre Le Coq (FRA) was sixth in the race, which was enough to keep him on the podium.
“Today the conditions were incredible, I really enjoyed the racing,” said Giard. “A lot of the guys in the RS:X class are really good. So we had really close competition and all the time you have to constantly be looking out because if you open a small window someone will slip in. “I can’t really put my finger on [the key to my success], but I just try my best and I try to enjoy this competition.”
RS:X Men’s Medal Race Video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDIq5–lzWE
For the first time, World Sailing employed a reaching start and finish for the RS:X divisions. For sailors that are used to parking close to the starting line and accelerating at the last second-typical of a start in the RS:X class-this America’s Cup-inspired course format required a retooled starting strategy that heavily rewarded precise time-on-distance calculations for the final ramp up. But the course, which features four reaching and downwind legs and two upwind legs, was generally met with positive reviews.
Watch All Medal Races here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3t_sodLO8g
Text: World Sailing / RS:X Class
Photo: Sailing Energy / RS:X Class