Day 4 of the RS:X World Championships, being hosted by Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club, served up another nail-biter of a day with tricky, difficult and marginal conditions. The local race management team managed to get in the full racing schedule for all of the fleets and with 12 races in the bag, the title contenders are starting to emerge.
Before racing, there was talk about a potential world title being handed out a day early, the possibilities of securing country selection for the Olympics or the dream for sailors being able to secure their own berth to represent their country at Tokyo.
The men’s gold fleet had the most attention on the water as Kiran Badloe from the Netherlands had a chance to wrap his back to back World Championship title ahead of tomorrow’s medal race. Badloe has been able to, up until today, put together an enviable string of results throughout the first three days of racing – winning at least one race a day and only once straying outside of the top 2 in the results. So Badloes’ scoreline of 4, 13, 3 was a bit of a shock to those watching on the water. Where many were expecting Badloe to slam the door shut on his opponents, he has instead left it wide open for his compatriot Dorian van Rijsselberghe to potentially walk through tomorrow.
Badloe has done enough to guarantee himself a silver medal. Van Rijsselberghe however has the potential to upgrade to a gold medal and world title or, if he has a very bad day at the office, walk away with nothing from the event. However, the competitive desire within van Rijsselberghe will not allow him to settle for anything but gold, which sets tomorrows medal race up as a fitting finale to the final world championship of the RS:X Class.
Kiran Badloe and Dorian Van Rijsselberghe
The two sailors that could take it all away from van Rijsselberghe are Israel’s Shahar Zubari, who sits in third spot, and France’s Thomas Goyard who sits in fourth spot overall. It would take these two sailors finishing the medal race first and second, with van Rijsselberghe finishing last, for Zubari and Goyard to steal the silver and bronze and break up the Dutch party (a little bit).
Goyard on today, “I had a good day. It was really shifty but I got a 2, 3, 11 which I was happy with. I am super happy with my performance today, but the wind was really tricky and unstable. For my nerves it was really hard. There is one final race tomorrow and we will have to see what weather we get for that. We have a strong team here. We have been training together for the last seven or eight years in the French team and for the last year I have been training with Dorian (van Rijsselberghe) and Kiran (Badloe) which has been very good for my speed.”
In the medal race for tomorrow there are two Dutchmen, three Frenchmen, two Poles, two Israelis and a British sailor. Where the Dutch, French, Polish and Israelis are using this as part of their selection process, it will be interesting to watch whether sailors are more worried about their own countrymen or of the fleet in general around them.
The battle for the Oceania Olympic spot could also not be closer between New Zealand and Australia. Kiwi sailor Antonio Cozzolino has slowly clawed back the points against Australian Grae Morris where they finished the day with Morris holding a tiny one point lead over Cozzolino. It will come down to who beats who in the final race tomorrow to see who qualifies their country for Tokyo 2020.
In the women’s fleet, the antipodean battle has been won by New Zealander Veerle ten Have who has had an up and down week to sit in 24th spot overall. Leading the fleet overall is Lilian de Geus from the Netherlands who is on 34 points overall having won the last race. It is only by virtue of this race win that de Geus is on top as Noy Drihan from Israel is also on 34 points overall.
De Geus and Drihan are both 13 points clear from third place Charline Picon from France and 23 points clear from fourth place Emma Wilson from Great Britain. This means that they are relatively safe in the gold and silver medals, barring a major disaster, and will be able to concentrate on beating the other over the line tomorrow to take the world title. Picon is the best placed to spoil the party for either of the top two whilst Wilson is leading the charge to take the bronze medal from Picon.
Charline Picon, FRA
Charline Picon on how her week has been, “I have had a good day today where I managed three races in the top five. I am happy with my sailing as it was very very tricky and I could’ve had a really bad day easily. The first day was bad. I got some seaweed in the first race and I lost fifteen places which was disappointing. On the second day in the big wind I had good speed but I had some very bad starts.”
Picon on her preparations for Tokyo and the defense of her Olympic crown, “I will go to Hyeres and some World Cup events. I will work on my starts and speed and spend some time in venues which are Enoshima. It’s not like here so I need some swell, it’s much more of a technical venue so I have five months to get ready for that.”
The women’s medal race is a much more multi-cultural affair with eight different nations represented with only the Israel and Poland fielding more than one sailor. And like the men’s medal race, the women are likely to provide a nail-biting finale to what has been a perfect week of windsurfing in Sorrento
As is typical when a regatta has had four fantastic days of racing leading into a scintillating final day, the weather forecast is starting to look flaky for the medal races. The race management team are looking at all options to complete the races in fair conditions and it likely that this will take place in the morning from 1000hrs onwards. Whatever happens, Sorrento has served up the best week’s racing that most RS:X sailors can remember from an event which will last in the memories for years to come.
Words: RS:X Class
Photos: Caitlin Baxter, @Baxter.films
Follow the event: