Top 10 emerge from gripping Final Series at RS:X World Championships in Oman – Medal Race competitors fired up for grand finale tomorrow
The Final Series at the RS:X World Windsurfing Championships in Mussanah, Oman, concluded today with the top 10 from each Gold fleet – Men and Women – now confirmed for the Medal Race tomorrow. Although she still needs to contest the Medal Race on Saturday, Peina Chen the super-fast Chinese sailor who has a clear 22-point lead, looks set to take an overall win of the Women’s World Championship.
Chen, who has dominated the fleet for most of the regatta, and has produced exceptional speed throughout, particularly downwind, says although she is fit, she is now looking forward to a rest once the Medal Race is over.
“It has been tough for everyone. Today the conditions were up and down and shifty and I feel very tired. I was happy with my performance though because I just focused on myself, and even if I had a relatively poor beat, I was able to gain places again downwind.”
Chen’s closest challenger this week was Malgorzata Bialecka (POL) who snatched the overall lead yesterday but had a relatively poor day today. She now has to include a 17th in her score line.
The conditions were challenging with the wind shifting back and forth so it was a case of staying completely focused throughout. The Women enjoyed generally fresher conditions in the afternoon, which is where Bryony Shaw (GBR) really came into her own. Shaw, bronze medalist in Beijing 2008, and winner of the RS:X European Championship earlier this year, posted a 4, a 5 and finished the day with a 1st, enough to lift her to 3rd overall in the Final Series.
One of the most impressive performances this week comes from 18 year-old Stefania Elfutina (RUS) who not only leads the 2015 Oman RS:X Under 21 Women’s Windsurfing Championship, but in finishing the Finals Series in 10th, she also qualifies for the Medal Race tomorrow.
Commenting on today’s race Elfutina, said: “I am shattered – it was all about pumping today. I am so happy though because my aim was to make the top 10 and I’ve done it.”
In the Men’s division, Pierre Le Coq (FRA), the 26-year-old dentist from Brest, Brittany, managed to secure a win in the Finals Series, but the Chinese really gave him a run for his money.
In the light, shifty airs he struggled to keep pace today while the Chinese duo Aichen Wang and Zhichao Zhang were unstoppable. Wang and Zhang finished the Finals Series in second and third place respectively and will be serious challengers in tomorrow’s Medal Race.
Le Coq commented: “The Chinese were on fire particularly in the light winds, planing downwind at great speeds. I also did some good races but physically I found it very tough today.”
Looking ahead to tomorrow Le Coq added: “My plan is to not match race, I just want to go out there and sail my best.”
Nineteen-year-old Mattia Camboni (ITA) is another impressive young sailor. He has led the 2015 Oman RS:X Under 21 Men’s Windsurfing Championship all week, and after today’s results, which included a 2nd place, he finishes the Final Series in 9th overall, which is enough to secure a place in the Medal Race tomorrow.
“I am so happy to have made the top 10 so I can race the Medal Race. It makes all the hard work worthwhile.”
Commenting on what makes him so fast, Camboni added: “Fitness. I find it really important to maintain fitness to be able to pump hard. I spend a lot of time in the gym and on the road bike.”
The plan for Saturday is to run a double-points scoring Medal Race for the top 10 in both the Men and Women fleets to determine the overall winners of the RS:X World Windsurfing Championships.
The remaining Gold fleet and Silver fleet competitors will race one fleet race to determine the final overall positions including the results of the 2015 Oman RS:X Under 21 Windsurfing Championship.