Olympic veteran on fire
Showing that experience pays in this class, so today veteran windsurfer and quadruple Olympic medallist Alessandra Sensini from Italy pulled into the lead at the RS:X World Championships, being held at Kerteminde, Denmark.
Following Wednesday’s layday, today was the first of the second round/final series with racing getting underway on time at 1100 local for the Men and Women’s Gold fleets in good breeze and sun, following a windless, overcast start to the morning.
While some of the top players in the Women’s fleet had high scores today including Poland’s Maja Dziarnowska, France’s Charline Picon, past leader China’s Sasa Sun, Sensini posted a valuable 3-1. “I had a good day - I am very happy because this was a very important day,” she said. “After the rest day it is always complicated going back into racing, but I had two good starts and I was very happy with my speed and my sailing.”
In the first race, held in 10-12 knots, Sensini had lost positions, but had managed to regain them. In retrospect, she was satisfied with her third place. Race two, held in 15-18 knot, fully planing conditions, was won by Spain’s Marina Abalau until unfortunately she was deemed to have been over early at the start and was disqualified.
“I am very happy because it is very easy to make small mistakes which can cost you lots of positions,” said Sensini. “My target today was not to get a discard worse than what I have. But it is very difficult - the girls are getting much, much better. There are many girls who can win and it is a very tough competition.”
Also on the rise today in the Women’s fleet were Israel’s Lee-el Korzits, who’s 4-2 elevates her to second overall, while in contrast to Abalau, her Spanish team mate Blancha Manchon is now up to third, after a slow start to the regatta.
“I was improving a lot, because the first day was my worst, so I changed my equipment a little bit and I am feeling better,” said Manchon. “I think now there are maybe five girls that are going the same speed so it is hard to be in front, but it is easy to be the last of this group. Now I have to focus on my speed, my tactics and try to do my best.”
Manchon is enjoying conditions at the RS:X Worlds this week in Kerteminde, although she says the wind direction and strength are totally different to when she trained here.
Does she expect to still be competing (like Sensini) when she is 40? “No - I started when I was really young, when I was 8. Maybe when I am 40 I will play golf and be relaxed.” Manchon’s mother Maria Antonia Dominguez doesn’t seem to be of the same opinion. She is bringing up the rear in the silver fleet. “She likes windsurfing. I did my first competition in my mother’s belly,” claims Manchon - a born windsurfer in every sense.
In the Men’s RS:X class, the Netherland’s Dorian van Rijsselberge continues to lead, although such is the level of competition that a 12th in today’s first race (non-discardable as he was black flagged in race one of the series) has allowed second placed Pole Piotr Myszka to close to within three points of him.
“I had a disastrous start,” admitted van Rijsselberge. “I came around the top mark in 43rd, but I managed to work my way back into the race which was really nice.” He followed up his 12th place with a win in race two, his fourth bullet in eight races. “The second one was just a glamour - a lot of speed and nice sunshine and a lot of waves.”
Van Rijsselberge is leading but is very aware of being in a similar situation at the World Championship in Weymouth last year when he ended up losing. “I was leading after the first two or three days and then going into the rest day I lost my focus, I lost the plot and took a whole lot of points which I didn’t need and pretty much lost the Worlds there,” he recalls, nodding frantically when asked if he has learned his lesson. So early to bed? “No, just keep on rumbling and having fun.”
While Lee-el Korzits is up to second in the Women’s class, Israel is also lining up to be on the podium among the Men where Nimrod Mashiah has moved up to third after posting a 5-3 today. Team mate the talented Shahar Zubari, doing so well at the start of this regatta, suffered today with a 48th in the opening race today, dropping him to 16th.
“In the first race, it was a bit tricky - after the start people were not sure about planing with daggerboard, but I believed in going planing and until the end of the first upwind it paid off,” recounted Mashiah. “The second race was whoever was the fastest. I managed to be pretty fast and I felt good.” His fifth in race one today was despite having broken his main batten prior to the start. The batten was replaced hurriedly between today’s two races.
Tomorrow, final series racing continues with the Men and Women’s Gold fleets setting sail at 1100 local time.
Sailmaker and windsurfing legend Neil Pryde, also the creator of the RS:X class, arrived in Kerteminde today from his home in Hong Kong, to take in the World Championship.
“From what I have seen so far, it is just fantastic,” said Pryde of the event. “It is great for the sport of windsurfing that we now have a discipline bringing the sport back into the mainstream sailing scene, whereas it has gone off and done its own thing over the years: For the future of windsurfing that is going to be very important.”
At present Pryde has much to discuss in terms of new boards. The RS:1 is due to go into production imminently. According to Pryde it is designed to be “an intermediate board, a stepping stone into the RS:X, little less expensive, more popular in design and style. The family resemblance is similar. It will still be a very good performing board and probably a little lighter than the RS:X we have today. Our aim is to create a second tier international windsurfing class.”
Further down the track, Pryde also hopes to introduce a new lighter version of the RS:X for use at the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016. The new board, at present without a name, will be 3kg or 20% lighter than the present board.
See the full video interview with Neil Pryde here
Full results here