Scoreboard shaken up at RS:X Worlds
For the 116 sailors turning up to the Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club this morning, there were a few tired bodies, sore arms and broken hands following yesterday’s heavy air duel on the water. The look of relief for many as day 3 of the RS:X World Championships defied the forecast 20 knots winds and presented a much calmer Port Philip Bay to the sailors.
However, looks can be deceptive. Where yesterday was a straightforward hook-in and blast off type day, the race course today was like a scene out of a Mockingjay film – a series of cleverly crafted traps that could catch out even the top sailors. The wind shifts were deceptive, the gusts would lull sailors into complacency and the tide caught nearly every sailor out when judging laylines – a differently brutal race course compared to yesterday but one that served up a full schedule of three topsy-turvy races.
The women were up first today and it was Charline Picon from France, the reigning Olympic champion from Rio who recovered from a difficult first two days to post the days best scoreline of 1, 1, 6 and climb up to seventh overall. Picon has had a difficult week so far but today showed that she still has what it takes to challenge for a medal in five months’ time come Tokyo 2020.
Overnight leader, Noy Drihan from Israel scored a consistent 5, 3, 3 to retain her lead going into Friday. However, Drihan will need to hold off the charge from Dutchwoman Lilian de Geus who has climbed up the leader board again today after a disappointing first race where de Geus scored an 18th place. Since then de Geus has not placed outside of the top sixth and has taken two race wins. Behind de Geus it is Maja Dziarnowska from Poland and Emma Wilson from Great Britain who are challenging each other for third place overall – with the Pole have a slight lead over the British sailor.
De Geus commented on todays races, “It was a lot of fun racing today. It was quite difficult on the course, quite a lot of gusts and shifts which made it interesting. I hope I can do better than last year where I came third (at the 2019 World Championships) but all of the girls are sailing really well here and I hope to battle to the end of this week. We have had a windy week so far which I like but I don’t mind some light winds too.”
There are seven different nations in the top ten of the women’s fleet but also a big spread between the Drihan in first place overall and Karolina Lipinska from Poland in tenth place overall so the likely medal contenders are starting to emerge from the fleet.
The men endured an equally difficult day and finally Kiran Badloe from the Netherlands blemished his scorecard with an 11th place in the second race of today. Either side of that though, the tall Dutchman managed to keep his championship bid firmly on track with a win in the first race of the day and a win in the last race of the day. It will take a herculean effort from the chasing pack to take the title away from Badloe, even with two days of racing left to go.
Double Olympic champion, Dorian van Rijsselberghe from the Netherlands, is one of the chasing pack who may have let the title slip though his fingers today – sitting in fourth place overall, carrying 38 points and is a whopping 27 points behind Badloe. Van Rijsselberghe had a poor first race taking a 25th place before bouncing back to score a 3rd and 5th in the remaining two races. Van Rijsselberghe has really run out of lives in this event having picked up his two drops, the second of which will kick in if tomorrows racing is run to schedule. Van Rijsselberghe now has to score at least in the top five for every race tomorrow if he is to have any realistic chance of claiming the championship.
Poland’s Pawel Tarnowski had a difficult day, scoring 16, 19, 2, but just clings onto second overall with 36 points. Tarnowski commented on his day, “It was hard today to keep in the top ten today as the conditions were very shifty. I had a second in the last race but the first two races were not so good for me. I didn’t pay too much attention to the tide as the wind was most important. Kiran is really fast and he made smart choices today. I enjoy racing against him. To beat him I will need to make good choices and I think I have good speed too.”
Within the selection battles that are going on, Israels Shahar Zubari had a strong day and has moved up to third place overall having scored a 2, 1, 12 for the day. Zubari has leapfrogged fellow country man Reuveny who drops to sixth overall but is the leading under 21 sailor. The battle between the top three French sailors is also no closer to being resolved. Thomas Goyard, Pierre le Coq and Louis Giard all had a difficult race at some point today and there are only 7 points separating Goyard in fifth overall to Giard in ninth overall.
Friday is the last chance for sailors to make the all-important medal race on Saturday – they will need to race hard, fast and consistently if they plan to move up the leader board to get in to the top ten overall. And even then, they will be hoping for some luck and that their rivals will make mistakes as they go along the way. The forecast is for lighter winds, potentially non-planing, which normally shakes the fleet up and could see another shuffle of the leader board.