On the first day of the 2017 RS:X Europeans and Youth Europeans & Open Trophy, sailors were left with mixed emotions as Marseille and the Mistral breeze blew through town and showed the RS:X sailors who was boss with some wild conditions to kick off the championships.
After an initial delay of three hours to allow the conditions to settle; 265 RS:X sailors (108 senior men, 55 senior women, 79 youth boys and 23 youth girls) took to Marseille Bay with a brisk 20-25 knot northerly wind to start their assault on the event titles. A full complement of three races were sailed for the senior men, senior women and youth boys with only the youth women managing two races in the exciting conditions.
As the first major event for the RS:X Class in this new Olympic cycle leading into Tokyo 2020, there are some new faces around the board park, some veteran faces and others who have chosen a new career path. One such sailor is Nick Dempsey, three time Olympic medallist, who attending the event but with a new job in coaching Makoto Tomizawa from Japan.
Tomizawa is not new to the RS:X Class having sailed in the class since 2006 and attended each Olympic Games in Beijing, London and more recently Rio. Tomizawa commented that, “This is my first time working with a coach and Nick is fantastic guy and helps my sailing. I hope it will make a big difference for me. I want to get to the quarter finals here at this event and then see how I progress from there – but first I need to get to the quarter finals”. Tomizawa scored a solid 10, 9, 7 to lie in 15 position at the end of the first day.
RS:X Senior Men
The big guys dominated the front of each fleet where stature played a big part in the results. In both the Blue and the Yellow fleets Louis Giard (France) and Nimrod Mashiah (Israel) share the spoils at the end of the first day with an equal score line of 1, 1, 3 each. There chasing pack are almost as consistent as the two leaders and contain double Olympic gold medallist Dorian van Rijsselberge (Netherlands) within their number, sitting in fourth place overall and showing he has not lost his touch since spending little time on the water since his victory at last summers Olympics.
Also taking a race win today was Pole, Pawel Tarnowski who sits in third place overall having bettered each of his previous races to score 3,2,1.
Within the top ten there are eight different nations, showing the depth of the talent in the countries competing, the Dutch and the Israelis being the two nations with more than one sailor.
RS:X Senior Women
Helene Noesmoen (France) dominated the scoreline with three race wins and is comfortably in top spot at the end of the first day after an impeccable display of heavy wind sailing. Maja Dziarnowska (Poland) and Lilian de Gues (Netherlands) trail behind to round out the top three.
The scores of the sailors in the top twelve overall shows that consistency and avoiding double figure scores is going to be the key to getting into the quarter finals come next Saturday. With all of the 55 women racing in the same fleet, there will be lots of battles going on for every race to make those critical spots to be in with a chance of a medal.
The Rio Olympics Bronze medallist, Stefania Elfutina (Russia) holds a slim lead in the U21 results over Berenice Mege (France), with both sailors sitting in 13 and 14 overall respectively. These are two sailors who will be pushing hard to not only win the U21 title but get into the top 12 quarter final shoot out.
RS:X Youth Girls
Following in the footsteps of her compatriot in the senior women fleet, Olivia Rosique (France) took both race wins to lead. Yarden Isaak (Israel) scored 2,2 and Emma le Clech (France) scored 3,3 to match the consistency of Rosique and sit on the podium in second and third. The course for the youth sailors was slightly more sheltered than that of the seniors so they may have enjoyed the racing a little more, but it was certainly as equally fierce in the fights taking place.
French sailors control the top of this fleet with six sailors in the top ten which is testament to the efforts that goes into windsurfing in the host country. Other leading countries of Israel, Italy and Poland are also showing in the top ten and it will be a battle between these countries for the title.
RS:X Youth Boys
This was the only fleet where sailors from the host country France are not sitting on top of the leader board with Italian Luca di Tomassi who took all three race wins. That does not mean that he isn’t being chased hard, with five French boys chasing di Tomassi hard after the first day.
The Youth fleets represent future starts of windsurfing and one country that is looking to develop this area is Turkey who have four sailors entered in the event. Diederik Bakker, recently appointed as Youth Development Manager for the Turkish Sailing Federation comments, “Its great to see lots of new sailors taking part at and I love working with the enthusiasm of the young sailors. With 79 sailors competing in the youth boys, my sailors are getting some amazing experiences especially in the strong winds and big waves that we had today.”
There are a number of nations at these championships that are pushing new sailors forwards which is promising for the sport of sailing in getting new sailors to gain experience at this level.
Tomorrow, Tuesday 9th May, there are another three races scheduled. The forecast is for lighter and shiftier winds which will present the sailors with challenging conditions again but for different reasons. In every case there are fleet leaders hoping to match their reliability of the opening day and other that are chasing them hard hoping that the change in weather will present them with a chance to take the lead.
Text: Bas Edmonds / RS:X Class
Photos: Robert Hajduk / Shuttersail.com
Event website: http://www.rsxclass.org/europeans2017/