The penultimate day of the 2019 RS:X World Championships fizzled out amongst expectations of strong winds that simply failed to show up to the party today. For the 236 competitors from 47 nations, this was the last chance before the medal races to set a marker down, to climb the scoreboard, to protect their position or just to make amends and prove a point from a poor start to the event.
Instead the day was another long slow wait for wind once the early morning breeze had died away. Some sailors went for an ice cream in some of Torboles excellent ice cream palours while others took the time to sunbathe on the grass at the Circolo Surf Torbole. Either way, waiting for wind is something sailors seem to excel at.
The women were the first in line to race today and, with another early start, were sent off to race in the northerly Peller breeze. Over the past few days it looked as though the world championship was following the “script” of Lilian De Geus from the Netherlands, who is looking to retain her title. And this was reinforced when De Geus went out to win the first race of the day and then take second place in the next. All the time, her medal contenders were scoring some big results and taking little falls down the leaderboard. Giorgia Speciale scored a 35th in the second race of the day and tumbled down the leader board to sit 5th overall having started the day in 2nd.
However China’s Yunxiu Lu hadn’t read the script and won the last race of the day. This combined with De Geus ending the day with a 23rd place, sees these two sailors swap places with De Geus having to surrender her leaders bid to Lu. Not only did De Geus have to hand over the lead, she also handed over a six point advantage to Lu going into tomorrows double points Medal Race. This means that De Geus has to have at least four boards between herself and Lu as they finish the medal race tomorrow.
Another winner from todays racing was Katy Spychakov from Israel who is in third place having scored 13, 5, 4 today and is just two points behind De Geus. Spychakov also has more than one hand on the Under 21 trophy too, but without doubt her mind will be on the potential of a world championship medal and will be aiming to beat De Geus to silver.
Another medal race participant is Stefania Elfutina from Russia who is in seventh place overall and whilst out of the medals, has been pleased with her progress this week in such a big fleet. Elfutina on this week, “Today was nice to wake up early, I was feeling really good this morning when I woke up at six o’clock. I was sure it was going to be a good day for me. The starts here are totally different to the Test event, if you don’t do a good start it is like sailing behind a wall. I think Torbole is the only place where we can hold a competition of this size and it is insanely beautiful. My target is for top eight in the medal race tomorrow for me to qualify for Russia to go to Tokyo”.
The battle for the final remaining two qualification spots has also been raging away in the silver fleet of the women. Farrah Hall from the United States and Siripon Kaewduang-Hgam from Thailand currently occupy the front two seats for qualification but are being chased by Veerle Ten Have from New Zealand and Gelly Skaraltou from Greece. The points in this battle are extremely close and with a fleet of 53 boats, it will be easy to pick up a big score tomorrow and scupper any chances of country qualification. With only one race for the silver fleet tomorrow, it is like a second medal race for those countries.
The race committee decided that, instead of waiting till the afternoon for the southerly Ora to materialize having learnt yesterday that this is not a reliable wind in September, the men’s fleets were going to be sent out immediately and were off to race in the remains of the mornings northerly wind.
In a light 6-8 knots, it was Piotr Myszka from Poland who powered his way around the course to take the race win. However Myszka was followed closely by the dynamic Dutch duo of Van Rijsselberghe and Badloe who came in second and third respectively. Frenchman Pierre Le Coq, who led the qualifying series, came home in sixth place and sat in second overall.
Where the first race was held in a light breeze, the wind was dropping and becoming more erratic and unstable. Despite several attempts to start a race, it became futile and the fleet were sent to shore to wait in hope for the southerly Ora to materialize. At 1730 CET, time ran out and the race committee signaled no more racing today. For some sailors this signaled relief in that their position was safe going into the final day – for others it signaled disappointment at not getting the chance to try and move up the leader board.
At the end of the day it is Kieran Badloe who goes into the medal race with a five point buffer over Le Coq who in turn holds a ten point buffer over Van Rijsselberghe in third place. An outside chance of a medal is veteran Byron Kokkalanis from Greece who is twelve points behind Van Rijsselberghe. It is these four sailors who have the opportunity of a medal tomorrow and the racing will be thrilling to watch.
In the qualification battle, Korea’s Wonwoo Cho has secured his country a place in Tokyo by way of his participation in the medal race. Further down the field Hong Kong, Switzerland, Belarus and Lithuania look safe in their qualification. That leaves a further three spots open and the final gold fleet race will determine which countries fill those spots. In the running are the United States, Russia, Turkey, Mexico and the Czech Republic.
The first races are scheduled to take place from 0800 CET and are able to be followed via tracking on the RS:X event website.
Text – RS:X Class
Images – Robert Hajduk
Website – www.rsxclass.org/worlds2019