Palma serves up tricky test

The opening day of the RS:X Europeans and Youth Europeans, being held in Mallorca, Spain, opened with a proper examination of the 333 sailors competing – testing the tactical awareness and ability to change gears of those racing. Why? Because the wind was pouring over the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range which sits to the west of Palma Bay, spilling the wind randomly across the bay. After the Tramuntana had finished with the wind, what the sailors had left was a shifting breeze which would fluctuate from between 8 to 18 knots in a matter of moments, bouncing left and right throughout the day.  

From the beach at the host club, Club Nautic Arenal, it looked like a perfect day to get three good races under the belt and have a steady start to the championships. As the sailors departed the beach, only then did it become clear as to how tough the day at the office was going to be. As the first major event of the 2019, were some sailors rusty or had they perfectly prepared for such a test? The scores at the end of the day gave the answer.

The Women and Youth Men left for the morning session and were away promptly at the start time of midday. For the Women, Charline Picon from France set the bar with a race win in the blue fleet with Berenice Mege, also from France picking up the win in the yellow fleet. Nerves settled. In the second races, Poland’s Maja Dziarnowska and China’s Yeu Tan would pick up the wins for blue and yellow fleet respectively. For the final race, it was the Chinese pairing of Yeu Tan and Yunxiu Lu who took the wins in blue and yellow fleet respectively.

The scoreboard at the end of the day has Yunxiu Lu on top, her third race coupled onto a second and a third place which puts Lu on six points. Just a point behind is Charline Picon with Maja Dziarnowska in third. Picon on her day, “It was a good day to start a championship. It was difficult conditions, you had to be very focused on the changes to make sure you changed the settings all the time. The swell added to the complication. But I managed a good few races and I am very happy. This event is very important to me, I have had some time off and I have all of the feelings to want to win again. I want to have the winning feeling back.”

Reigning World Champion Lilian De Geus from the Netherlands had a tough start but did enough to stay in contention at the end of the first day. De Geus on her first day, “It was tough today, I had some really bad starts and had to fight back. I had two good races and one not so good. I don’t feel too much pressure being the world champion, I’m just enjoying being here and racing so its not much pressure.” De Geus sits in 13th overall.

The Youth Men are the biggest fleet at these championships with Israel being very well represented in the fleet with 17 sailors competing. What is extraordinary is that there are eight Israeli sailors are in the top 13, showing the level of talent in the team and sets a marker that other countries will need to work towards.

Vardimon Tomer dominated the day with three race wins which is the most positive way to start a regatta. Liam Segev from Israel sits in second with a scoreline of 3, 2, 2  and Frenchman Fabien Pianazza is in third. Pianazza is an experienced sailor within the fleet, he is a bronze medalist at the 2017 World Championship and silver medalist at this event in 2018 and will no doubt be in the hunt for gold come Saturday.

Tomer on his opening day, “I won the first race which was nice. The second race was bad as I did not have a good start but I pushed really hard the whole time and finally got the lead in the last downwind and won the race. The third race was tough as it was really shifty and it was difficult to read the gusts and wind. But I pushed hard again and won third race. The conditions were tough and the wind went up and down lots.”

In the afternoon the fleets swapped over with the Men and Youth Women going out for their time on the water. Italian Daniele Benedetti is the leader and is clearly looking to retain the title he won in Sopot, Poland last year, the reigning European Champion scoring a 1, 1, 4 to lead by four points from another Italian, Luca Di Tomassi. The two Italians are being chased by two Frenchmen in the form of Clement Bourgeois in third overall and Pierre Le Coq in fourth overall.

World Champion Dorian van Rijsselberge is in 5th overall posting a solid 8th and 11th in the first two races followed by a win. On the day, “Definitely a bit rusty. A few half decent starts and some bad starts, even went swimming in the second race. I got smacked around a bit out there! My priority for the year are going to be the Worlds in Garda for both Kiran Badloe and myself. Im excited for the challenge and we push each other harder and hopefully one of us will win the gold medal in Tokyo.”

Finally, the Youth Women were up and where there were some clear leaders in the other three fleets there isn’t a natural leader after day one. Everyone in the top ten had some good races and some bad races – however at the end of the day it is Naama Gazit from Israel who sits joint top Heloise Macquaert from France, both tied on 12 points. Cypriot Natasa Lappa is in third just a point back. Again the Israelis are strong in the Youth Women with five sailors in the top eight.

Wednesday is a crucial day for most of the fleets as they split into gold and silver. This split could mean the difference for sailors if their compatriots are in gold whilst they are in silver – there is no way back to gold fleet and they are second in the trials. Big day Wednesday is coming up!

RESULTS will be available when race commences here –

PHOTOS – Credit Jesus Renedo / SAILING ENERGY

TEXT – RS:X Class

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