Glamour opening day at RS:X Worlds
Sorrento, Australia served up a perfect opening day for the 116 sailors competing in the 2020 RS:X World Championships. Whilst there was a slight postponement to the published schedule, the wind soon filled in and once the fleets arrived at the race course on Port Philip Bay, there was an idyllic 15 knots blowing in from the south creating a fast, flat and sunny race track to blast around.
Sorrento Sailing Conta Boat Club are the hosts for this years World Championships and the experience of their volunteers and race management teams shone through today. They perfectly called the southerly shift in the wind and got the timing spot on to launch the fleet leading to the best possible start to the event.
The shifty conditions that the sailors were nervous about prior to the event were not seen in abundance today and the race officers worked hard to ensure that the sailors had lots of tactical options, which was evident by the different tactics employed as the day went on.
The two fleet of men’s racers were up first with the 70 men sailors split evenly between blue and yellow fleet racing. This meant that the Dutch duo of reigning Olympic champion Dorian Van Rijsselberghe and reigning World champion Kiran Badloe would not race against each other on the opening day, both having an opportunity to boss the differing fleets that they were in.
After three races it was Badloe that would come out on top of the Dutch after the first day, sitting in second place overall and having scored a 2, 1, 2 to sit just a point behind overall leader, Pierre Le Coq from France who scored a strong 1, 2, 1. In third place overall is Thomas Goyard who managed to score 3, 6, 2 from today’s racing.
Badloe commented on the day and what he is looking forward to for the week, “Today was a lovely day, we had good breeze and went out in some lovely sunny weather. I cant complain about my opening day, its still qualifying so the points will be tight but I had lots of fun.”
“I’d like to go to the Olympic Games but I am also keen to defend my title at the same time. We (Dorian van Rijsselberghe) are still good mates and we haven’t got much of a rivalry just yet this week. We are good mates off the water, we live together and share the same car down to the venue together so as mates its fine but on the water we both want to beat each other.”
Van Rijsselberghe had a slow start to the event scoring an 18 place in the first race before resuming a more normal service scoring a 1, 4 in races 2 and 3 respectively. And looking further down the fleet, there are a number of interesting little battles coming through. Israelis Tom Reuveny and Shahar Zubari sit in 7th and 8th place overall and are separated by only two points after the opening day. There are also three Frenchmen in the top 10 overall as well as two Poles. All of these teams are using these championships as part of the athlete selection process, proving how intense the racing over the next four days is going to prove to be.
In the battle for the Oceania Olympic spot, it is New Zealand’s Antonio Cozzolino who has just edged in front of Australia’s Grae Morris. Whilst these two sailors sit a little lower down the rankings, the urgency to beat the other will remain all week and through to the final leg of the final race on Saturday.
The women’s fleet followed the men and also notched up their scheduled three races onto the scoreboard. At the end of the day it is Poland’s Maja Dziarnowska who was the most consistent in scoring 2, 5, 4 and she holds a comfortable 6 point lead over Emma Wilson from Great Britain in second place overall. The 2018 World Champion from the Netherlands, Lilian de Geus, sits in third place overall and took the win in the final race of the day. De Geus narrowly missed out on a medal at last year’s event and will be looking to rectify that at this event before she heads to Tokyo.
Dziarnowska commented on todays racing, “It was a pretty good day for me and I am very happy with my performance, especially the starts which I think is the key to have a successful day today. Every time I went to the race committee I was pleased that I had not had a bad start.
These conditions are my favourite, I could do with a little more wind as I love these planning conditions. The forecast for tomorrow makes me really excited and I jut hope it is raceable – if its over 30 knots it will be difficult for the race committee.”
Dziarnowska is looking for selection to represent Poland in Tokyo and has set a marker down to her compatriots with her opening days results. The other major battle for selection sits with again with Israel who have three sailors in the top ten. It was Maya Morris who came out blazing today and scored 4, 8, 11 to sit in fourth place overall ahead of Noy Drihan in eighth and Katy Spychakov in ninth.
In the antipodean battle it is again New Zealand ahead in the form of Veerl ten Have who is leading the two young Australian ladies.
The forecast for racing on Wednesday is completely different to today, with a drop in temperatures, rain and a strong southerly breeze coming through. Lots of sailors are keeping their fingers crossed that it remains sailable as the three races tomorrow could prove vital in keeping their dreams alive for this week.
Text – RS:X Class
Images – Caitlin Baxter
Website – www.rsxclass.org/worlds2020