Marseille served up a genuine headache for the 265 sailors competing in the RS:X European and Youth European Championships hosted by the Yacht Club de Point Rouge. After the disappointment of missing out on racing on Thursday due to excess winds, Friday would prove the chance to release built up frustrations and get a solid three races onto the score sheet.
However, the reality was very, very different. With the wind blowing over the eastern hills of Marseille, the race course was a minefield. Holes where the wind would leave leaders wallowing, gusts which would propel those behind to the front. Shifts which would make those on the right hand side of the course smile, until they tacked and saw that the left hand side of the course was the place to be. A nightmare to navigate successfully and to get any sort of repeatable results over the course of the day. A lottery.
Some sailors played this lottery well, others not so well. At the end of the day the results will show that the majority of the sailors picked up some big scores today. Under the old racing format, this could’ve been the day that medals were decided through skill and good luck or titles were thrown away through bad luck – but not at this event. At this event this week, all previous scores are deleted and any of the top 12 will have the chance to be European Champion. Saturday 13th May is going to be a big day.
The winning numbers?
265 sailors from 37 nations
28 preliminary races across 4 fleets
3 races for the Finalists tomorrow
1 winner of each Final race to become European Champion
Poland’s Maja Dziarnowska had the best day in the fleet with 2, 2, 5 and technically leads the fleet going into tomorrow but will need to maintain her consistency to be in with a chance. Today saw three different race winners and 10 different nations in the top 12.
Izzy Hamilton (Great Britain), did not have the best of days but scrapes in to tomorrow’s final having scored 17, 19 and 26. Izzy commented, “I didn’t have the best day today – my score line for the three races today wasn’t that great but I am in the top 12 so really happy about that. The race course was close to a huge hill on the land so it was really shift and really gusty so very hard to be consistent.
When looking ahead to tomorrow Izzy said, “I am looking forward to tomorrow – I will just focus on getting off the start line and hopefully having three good races. Whilst I am happy I have a chance to be European Champion from twelfth position I think I would be more nervous if I was leading the event.”
The Under 21 title will come down to two sailors, Russia’s Stefania Elfutina and Israel’s Katy Spychakov who are both in the Finals. Whilst they may be keeping one eye on each other, they will also be aware that they have the capability of winning overall – an interesting battle to watch.
Again, three different race winners with Byron Kokkalanis (Greece), Tom Squires (Great Britain) and Sebastian Fleischer (Denmark) having their moment of glory in taking a race win – in the case of Squires and Fleischer they recorded emphatic wins as they left the fleet behind.
Reigning Olympic champion, Dorian van Rijsselberge (Netherlands) has retired from the regatta for personal reasons after a difficult day on the water. Van Rijsselberge was in second place, an amazing feat given this was his first day back on a RS:X board since his triumph on Rio last summer and we wish him a safe journey home.
Fleischer took the last race of the day and described the conditions, “Whilst it looked like a tricky day, it could be made simple. Keep going left in the stronger wind and get lifted to the mark. Downwind, you just had to wait for a gust to get you back down – if you missed one, you just had to wait and lose places until the next one came along.
Looking to tomorrow, Fleischer was excited, “Tomorrow is going to be great – 12 people can be European Champion so its all to race for!”.
Yarden Isaak (Israel) had the best of the difficult conditions with a race win followed by a second and fourth place. Olivia Rosique (France) maintained pressure on her rival throughout today as well compatriot Camille Olivier. How these ladies were as consistent as they have been this week is hard to imagine given the wide range of conditions encountered, names here to keep an eye on for the future.
With five French ladies in the top 12, the odds would be in the favour of France picking up the title of Female Youth European Champion but there are a number of different sailors who will be keen to spoil the hosts party.
Faustine Manhes (France) has however already got something to cheer about, having taken the Under 17 title already. Manhes is the youngest competitor in the Finals and it will add to her smile in bringing home the overall title.
Italian Luca di Tomassi has been the most consistent this week and had a minor blip in the final race today with a 14, his only score outside of the top 4 all week – hugely impressive performance. It is this type of consistency that will certain be an advantage going into the Finals where being at the front of the fleet is a benefit – being at the front seems natural to di Tomassi.
The home nation is even more dominant in this fleet with 7 sailors in the top 12. Mathurin Jolivet (France), Yoav Cohen (Israel) and Baptiste Grall (France) have all taken two race wins this week and will be pushing di Tomassi for the title.
Nicolo Renna (Italy) and Fabien Pianazza (France) are left to battle for the Under 21 title.
Racing is scheduled to start form 1100 (CET) and the RS:X Class will be using Facebook Live to stream the Final race where possible.
Text: Bas Edmonds / RS:X Class
Photos: Robert Hajduk / Shuttersail.com