Gearing up for the RS:X World Championship
Following on from the Finn Gold Cup and 470 World Championships in 2009, Denmark next week hosts the RS:X World Championships, to be held in Kerteminde, 100km west of Copenhagen. Competition starts on Sunday, 29 August and concludes with the medal races on Saturday 4 September.
At the end of year two of the Olympic cycle leading up to London 2012, so the top contenders in both the Men’s and Women’s RS:X classes are ramping up their campaigns and all, from past World Champions to five of the Beijing medalists will be taking to the water in Denmark. Coming two weeks after the final 2010 ISAF Sailing World Cup event in Weymouth, Skandia Sail for Gold, competitors are looking forward to the prospect of conditions at the Danish venue being similar those of the British Olympic venue.
Beijing Gold medallist Tom Ashley from New Zealand will be hoping to improve on his recent performance in Weymouth where he finished 11th, just short of making the medal race.
“I haven’t done the full preparation I normally would, so I’ll do my best, but I don’t have great expectations for this year,” admits Ashley. Since Beijing he has only resumed training this year and the World Championship in Kerteminde will be just his third event in 2010, which started with a promising second place at the Princess Sofia Trophy in Palma. “I am just coming back into it slowly. We’ll see how it goes. It should be fine. I haven’t gone all out this year.”
Nick Dempsey, the defending RS:X World Champion, has been focussing on Weymouth this year, where he finished third, but he doesn’t underestimate the importance of this year’s Worlds. “To be World Champion is right up there. I hadn’t won it before and last year I was desperate to win and it as the right time and it meant a hell of a lot.”
Dempsey reckons that of the 120 competitors in the Men’s fleet, perhaps 10 are capable of winning. “Everyone is getting better, everyone is getting faster and fitter, with better technique, they are learning to race better. The younger kids are starting to do well. It is getting harder and harder.”
Among the usual suspects, two to watch will be Portugal’s João Rodrigues, the world no12 who recently won in Weymouth and the runner-up there, Dorian van Rijsselberge from the Netherlands, who was third at the Worlds last year.
The Women’s fleet racing in Kerteminde is every bit as competitive. On form at the moment is Spain’s Blanca Manchon, who has podiumed at all but two of the seven events she has competed in this year and is the the 2010 ISAF Sailing World Cup winner.
“I have trained a lot for this event and the place is really similar to Weymouth,” says Manchon. “I will try to enjoy Denmark a lot and be focussed on the wind because it will be difficult.”
Manchon spent two weeks training in Kerteminde prior to Skandia Sail for Gold, where she finished second to France’s Charline Picon. “It was good because we had all conditions, planing and not planing and I really like the place,” she says of her training in Denmark. “We will have a good races and good wind.”
Manchon reckons there are perhaps five who are likely to win the Worlds this year in the Women’s class. Among those she rates are her Spanish team mate and 2009 World Champion, Marina Alabau, Charline Picon and the Italians. Among the Italian line-up at the Worlds is Beijing silver medallist and 2008 World Champion Alessandra Sensini, who like Tom Ashley has been easing back into her Olympic campaign having this year competed at just two events – the Europeans where she was fourth and the Princess Sofia Trophy which she won.
The ISAF ranked world no1 at present is Team GBR’s Beijing bronze medallist Bryony Shaw, who more generously reckons there are around eight of the 74 women competitors capable of winning. In addition to the dominant Spanish, French and Italians, Shaw also rates the strong Polish team including Zofia Noceti-Klepacka, the 2007 World Champion, who was third at the Europeans this year. “She has just come back from having a baby. She is in good shape. She has dropped a bit of weight. Power to weight is so crucial. She was always the dominant high wind sailor, so that has really helped her sailing.”
Shaw reckons that she personally is also in good shape going into this championship. “It will be a hard fight, but I feel that this year has been going well and we have been hitting our goals. Speed-wise I am going pretty well and my fitness is up there for the light wind races."
Racing at the RS:X World Championships in Kerteminde starts this Sunday. There is a reserve day on Wednesday and the medal races for the top ten in each class are on Saturday, 4th September.
The 2010 RS:X World Championships is one of many major international sailing events to be held in Denmark in recent years. This summer, Denmark has hosted the SAP 505 World Championship and the xx event. Denmark is bidding for the ISAF Sailing World Championship 2014, which will be the World Championship for all Olympic classes and the most important qualification event for the Olympic Games 2016 in Rio de Janiero. Denmark's official bid for the ISAF Sailing World Championship 2014 will be made this autumn.