A blasting rollercoaster start for today’s first two races of the regatta

All 200 RS:X athletes waited eagerly for the wind to fill in, going past lunch time to finally drop the Postponement at 2:45 PM, but the delay just created more energy and expectation at this key World Championships.  There are 25 country slots allocated here for the men and 20 for the women, that will qualify individual countries for their right to compete in the 2008 Olympic Games. But there is more than just qualifying here, there are 7 days of high strung racing scheduled that will deliver two world Champions. The fleets have been divided into three men’s fleet and two women’s fleet that will then be sorted to Gold, Silver and Bronze after six qualifying fleet races. But this event won’t be easy for any racer with the constant offshore breeze flowing from the cliffs to create many surprises on the race course.

First off were the men’s fleets on course 1.  The winds filled in for the start of the men’s race but they definitely had a mind of their own today.  The wind was 5 to 15 knots in the first race and 5 to 20 knots in the second race, with huge oscillating shifts. The Polish teams were at it again, with Pont (POL) winning both races the yellow group.  He mentioned he got really lucky today, but he is no stranger to winning with a recent string of victories this season, most recently the European Championships. But the wind shifts where tricky and the lead changed hands every leg of the race.  Making even the most seasoned spectator biting their nails!  Richard STAUFFACHER (SUI) also had a fantastic day with his 1 and 2 finishes in the blue group, making the most of the right side in the first race for the win.  In the red group Shahar ZUBARI (ISR) placed 1 and 3 to be in 3rd place overall.  But the regatta has just started and while some favorites sailed some “shocker” races in the back of the fleet, there is still a drop to come after 4 races.

The women today were on course 2, which was further from shore, but they still had the same crazy Cascais breeze. In the first race many competitors couldn’t even make the time limit, even a World Champion!  But that didn’t stop a tie for the lead with both Allesandra SENSINI (ITA) and Zofia KLEPACKA (POL) winning both races in their groups today.  Not far off are Marina ALABAU  (ESP) and Romy KINZL (GER) who show they can thread the needle thru the big shifts and velocity changes.  But it was never a comfortable lead, and Sensini said that she was fortunate to get to the right side of the pressure not to mention to cover the whole fleet.  It was slightly lighter wind than on the men’s course, which led many of them to keep their mast tracks forward and keep the pressure going thru the centerboard.  
Today saw the lightest winds of this past week and tomorrow looks to be a bit stronger, but we’ll have to wait and see. With both courses close to shore, and the nearby mountains and cliffs creating havoc with the breeze it’ll be a test of consistency and tactics.  Most of the racers said they needed eyes in the back of their heads to constantly monitor all the wind changes, as one puff on the wrong side meant seeing the spray of the rest of the fleet!  Racing begins at 6PM tomorrow and that means racing into the sunset! Stay tuned to for all the latest rsx racing news, and for all the rest.


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