Day three of the RS:X Europeans was one of patience as the forecast played true for the 43 men and 31 women competing for the European titles in Vilamoura, Portugal. The sailors competing for the final European spot at Tokyo were given another roll of the dice as the wind gods dreamt up a long and difficult day on the water.
After the blast off on the second day of these championships, Thursday turned into a game of hunt the wind with sailors playing a yo-yo games of on and off the water waiting for racing conditions to establish. The forecast was never looking promising as the sun rose over the board park and the sailors were sent out to a very wind light race course, with only 5 knots blowing, barely enough to race. If you believe in coincidence, just as the sailors got out to the course area, a heavy rain cloud came over to suck away all of the wind and the sailors were all sent to shore again for conditions to settle.
This set up the long waiting game as the race team wrestled to get a course laid and for the conditions to settle whilst the sailors and coaches ashore battled boredom and anxiety for the racing to get underway. At around 1500 CET the waiting was rewarded as the fleets headed out to a building breeze of 10 knots for the first race which would build, and oscillate, to a gorgeous 16 knot wind with gusts of over 20 knots keeping sailors honest.
In the mens fleet, the double world champion from the Netherlands, Kiran Badloe, showed how much he enjoys waiting for wind by scoring the weeks best results of any day with a dominant 2, 1, 1 and has moved up to fourth on the leader board to put a challenge in for a medal this week, just 18 points from the gold medal with still two days of racing.
Badloe on todays racing, “Today was good. We are just starting back on the RS:X so it’s a little bit rusty so the occasional swim this week. We are having good fun and are working on our goals towards Tokyo. I haven’t spent much time on the RS:X this year so its good to have an event and get back into the racing.”
The big men of the fleet had a very enjoyable day in terms of results and it was Yoav Cohen from Israel who remains the leader of the fleet with another solid scoreline with 13, 6, 7 to sit top with 35 points overall. Byron Kokkalanis from Greece moved up to second overall with 5, 3, 3 from todays racing with a different Israeli in veteran Shahar Zubari moved up to third overall, displacing Yoav Omer who drops down to sixth overall. The points in the mens fleet are still close for the medals but Cohen is doing enough each day to keep a reasonable buffer between himself and the chasing pack.
In the womens fleet, Charline Picon from France still hangs onto the lead but is challenged by a different chasing pack at the end of day 3. Britain’s Emma Wilson scoots up to second overall, just six points behind the Rio gold medalist, Picon. Polands Zofia Noceti Klepacka also had a strong but mixed day with a 5th and 1st place either side of a retirement from racing but still sits in third overall.
Katy Spychakov from Israel who sits in fourth overall, “Today was pretty surprising. We went out in the morning and the wind was really unstable and we had a lot of rain. For me I could of had a better day but I’m happy to be consistent. Its pretty to know what is going to happen each day, the wind is surprising and the forecast is mostly wrong. But it keeps it interesting and I’m super excited to be racing on the RS:X again.”
It was the Dutch world champion Lilian de Geus who suffered the worst results from the day and dropped down to ninth overall after having scored an 8, RET and UFD giving her a points heavy scoreline. Like compatriot Badloe in the mens fleet, de Geus is still finding her time on the RS:X and is never to be written off in this championship nor that for a medal in the Tokyo Olympics. There is still lots to play for in this event.
De Geus on the racing today, “It was a long day for me. If you look at the scoreboard only it wasnt my best day. But its never too early to be late and there is still one more day to go before the medal race and I am always looking up.”
Racing continues through to Saturday where the titles will be decided in the medal races to determine who will be the European champion in 2020 after what has been a crazy year for the RS:X Class in general!
Text: RS:X Class
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