Zofia Glepecka, by Hugh Sims Williams / rsxclass.com
2007 RS:X WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS Race 3
by Hugh Sims Williams
Conditions: 4-14 knots
There was a lot of speculation that the wind would be strong for Saturdays racing. This was reinforced by reports that local sailors were rigging up 4m wave sails at Guincho, a beach very close to the racing venue. (RSX sailors use 8.5-9.5m sails)
The World Championships is a multiclass regatta, so the race course is shared with the 49er class. Due to delays in the 49er racing, the first RSX race started at 7:30pm, and the last race began at 8:30pm. A tired and frustrated fleet returned to the shore after 10pm as the sun set. Some competitors left their equipment where they landed while others de-rigged in the street lights.
Immediately off the beach, gusts hit the water at 20 knots, but dissipated to 6 knots near the start line. The wind continued to shift in a regular pattern, with wind speed varying from 6-14 knots during the racing. Only one race was held per fleet due to the fading light. The huge variation in speed of the RSX boards when planning continues to explain the large number of sailors failing to finish within the time limit.
Local racer, Joao Rodrigues, has continued to post consistent results keeping a medal within his grasp. The women raced after the men in the facing wind and light. Race wins were from light wind specialists Bryony Shaw(GBR) and Jian Yin(CHN). The shifty conditions mean that no one is safe from a disastrous result, and with the only discard coming into play after Sunday’s races, the leader board is likely to change again. Sundays racing will define the Gold, Silver and Bronze fleets in this competitive World Championship.
Conditions today: 8-20 knots
Racing continues to be held on the inner courses where shifty and unpredictable conditions prevail. Strong planning conditions combined with vast vacuum like black holes provided a spectacular game of snakes and ladders. There is hope that the windsurfers will be moved onto the outer course where the swell is larger and wind is cleaner in the next few days.
The breeze has finally arrived and despite the lottery that shifty conditions provide, a speed advantage can definitely help make a great tactician. Casper BOUMAN (NED), 2006 World Champion regularly found himself moving from 1st to 6th in the second race today, but used his speed to take the places back downwind to cross the line in 2nd.
Chinese take heavy casualties:
The Chinese team have taken a big drop in position in both the men’s and women’s fleets, their top competitors moving from 8th to 18th (men) and 3rd to 10th (women).
New boy in town:
Richard STAUFFACHER (SUI) could be following in the footsteps of Roger Federer after what has been an exceptional year from the Suisse. He has moved from relative unknown to regular of the top 10, but will he be able to move up the leader-board as the pressure rises?
Experience pays dividends in women’s fleet:
With four of the top six windsurfers aged over thirty, few can claim that experience counts for nothing. Both Barbara KENDALL and current regatta leader Zofia KLEPACKA gained equal points today, but with a difference of 16 years between them, it is clear that experience is not the only factor. Zofia recently finished 5th at the RSX Europeans and is now leading the world championships with a 6 point lead over Lise VIDAL (FRA).
Qualification has ended. The top 38 windsurfers in the men’s fleet will now battle against each other in the Gold fleet to gain their places in the elusive medal race, which will be held on Thursday. Up until now there has been little racing between Przemyslaw MIARCZYNSKI (POL) and Ricardo SANTOS (BRA) who are leading the regatta, as they have been qualifying in different fleets. MIARCZYNSKI has four bullets and a 12th which he is using as his discard. However he will have to sail extremely well in the remaining days to avoid counting this 12th in the latter stages. The windsurfers in 2nd to 6th place are discarding lower scores and so MIARCZYNSKI’S position is a fragile one.