The 2019 RS:X World Championships being held in Torbole, Italy, rolled into the third day with a fair amount of optimism from the 236 sailors from 47 nations. Optimism for another day of shifty northerly Peller wind in the morning followed by an afternoon of pumping southerly Ora wind in the afternoon. Optimism that even the early morning starts were seeming to become normal for the fleets that were unlucky enough to get called out to the race course in the dawn light.
However, Lake Garda and the surrounding mountains decided to throw another curve ball into the mix, a curve ball which even managed to stump the experienced local race committee volunteers. So as the first day of gold fleet racing was getting setup, the optimism continued but without knowing what was waiting around the corner.
The men’s fleet were up first this morning with an 0830 start under the normal northerly Peller wind, which was blowing at a consistent 14-16 knots. Without much fuss, except for the single general recall, the race committee seemed to chew through the three races for the men’s gold fleet and silver fleet.
Without much fuss until scrutiny is applied to the results that is. Race one saw the blue jersey of Kiran Badloe (NED) and red jersey of Piotr Myszka (POL) no where to be seen at the finish line as the fleet started to roll in. In third place however was Frenchman Pierre Le Coq, scoring another top three finish – his fifth out of the seven races at that time. Myszka crossed deep in the pack in 24th place and Badloe a hugely uncharacteristic 34th place. Would this be the day that a shuffle could be on the cards for the fleet?
With race two, it seemed as though the Dutch duo of Badloe and Dorian Van Rijsselberghe had lit their afterburners. Van Rijsselberghe took the win in the second race with Badloe in second before swapping for the third and final race of the day. This was enough to squeeze Badloe into the overall lead overnight, a tiny two point buffer over Le Coq in second place. Van Rijsselberghe has pulled himself up to third overall but still has work to do if he is to retain his world champion title on Saturday – Van Rijsselberghe is 16 points behind Badloe and has one day left to close this gap.
The casualties of the day included Myszka who slipped from third to sixth and Tom Squires (GBR) who fell down to eleventh having started the day in the top five. Thomas Goyard (FRA) is in fifth and commented on the day, “We had some strong winds today – about 15-20 knots maybe. I did pretty ok, I guess I could do better but everyone is making mistakes. Everything is in play for tomorrow for the medal race. I like both north wind because its nice and tricky but also the south wind because its blasting at full power and the scenery here is amazing too.”
Goyard came third to Van Rijsselberghe and Badloe at the RS:X Europeans in Palma earlier in the year. On how to beat the Dutchmen, “They are tough to beat, Kieran had a back injury at the test event in Enoshima and Dorian had an arm injury so they are really really good and I am impressed with both of them. We have one more day to go and I am confident – they are touchable but I will have to work hard.”
The women were scheduled to start at 1400 CET, a delay to allow the predicted southerly Ora to develop before racing would commence. And this is where the curve ball came in. The Ora seemed to have been told different instructions and the gentle southerly breeze which over the past two days has developed into the Ora, puffed and panted gently over the lake but never fully stabilized.
Finally at 1600 the women were released into a light and patchy 5 knot breeze – not quite what they were expecting at all. Finally at 1740 the women’s gold fleet finally did get away, the sun had long set behind the mountains and where the racing had started at dawn, it would finish at dusk. The wind was patchy and light still but was stable enough to produce a fair race.
It was Ingrid Puusta (EST) who managed to get herself to the top mark first and continued to lead around the course. Looking back through the fleet, overnight leader Lilian de Geus (NED) was buried deep in the pack but working hard to make up places. Chasing Puusta was Katy Spychakov (ISR) and Piena Chen (CHN). Italian sailor Giorgia Speciale was in fourth and looking to move herself up the leader board.
Puusta managed to hold on for a convincing win with Spychakov in second and Chen in third. Overall De Geus retains her lead despite finishing 20th in the race. Giorgia Speciale moves up to second overall with Spychakov in third. Speciale and Spychakov are also 1st and 2nd respectively in the Under 21 fleet and they have a firm grip on the gold and silver medals in this category at the moment. Is this the time for the Under 21’s to show the seniors who are the new kids on the block?
Puusta on her win today, “Today couldn’t of gone any better for me. I got my first win in a world championships so I am really happy. I had a tough day yesterday so this boosts me up the rankings by seven places. I am still the only female RS:X windsurfer in Estonia but we have lots of windsurfing classes in Estonia and I am hoping more youngsters will take up windsurfing in Estonia.”
Racing enters its penultimate day on Friday with three races scheduled for both the men and women. The women’s fleet are up first with a scheduled start time of 0800 CET and the men’s fleet are scheduled for 1030 CET. Racing can be tracked live online via the RS:X website. Racing will focus on the top ten getting into the medal race but we will also know more about the battles for Olympic qualification.
Text – RS:X Class
Images – Robert Hajduk
Event Website – www.rsxclass.org/worlds2019