Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Day 3, Women's European Laser Radial Championship: An Ice cream reward for Reyes after a difficult day

by Johanne Rosenquist

Just when you thought it was safe to go racing, the conditions on day three of the European Laser Radial Championship in Denmark, got even more difficult. With the wind shifting wildly off the Charlottenlund shore, varying in angle by up to 30 degrees and gusting and lulling almost at random, today was a day for keeping your head while all around you your rivals were losing theirs.

Maybe that’s why the laid-back twin sisters from southern Spain are doing so well here. Yesterday Lucia Reyes had the best day of any competitor in the 96-boat women’s fleet, scoring 4,2 in the breezier conditions. Today younger sister (by 20 minutes) Fatima had the best day with an incredible 1,3 in lighter conditions that had even the best sailors utterly confused at times.

The Reyes girls just keep on smiling no matter what comes their way. “Today was very difficult with so many wind shifts, but I watched the other group racing ahead of me and tried to learn from them,” said Fatima, who planned to celebrate her day with an ice cream. She now sits in 10th overall, just half a point in front of her older sister in 11th.

The random breezes brought some new faces to the front of the fleet, and threw the leaderboard wide open. Francesca Clapcich came out on top in her second race today, her victory moving the Italian up to 16th overall, and close to a top 15 position in this regatta which she needs to guarantee funding from her sailing federation. Scores of 7,1 moved Poland’s Ewa Makowska up to 7th overall. Just 19 years old and sailing her first season in the Laser Radial, Makowska described today as the best day of her young career. “I feel like I have made big progress after all the hard work in the winter,” she said. Her race win was a nice bonus after a tough contest. “I was 10th, then down to 20th, then up to 2nd, and then I won! It was very, very hard.”

Sarah Steyaert relinquished her overall lead in the regatta, after the reigning World Champion from France scored 21,9 from today’s heats. “I found it difficult to anticipate the wind as well as other days, but it’s OK,” she said. Paige Railey has now deposed Steyaert from the top of the leaderboard, but only by a single point. The American sits on 18 points after six races (with one discard), while Steyaert sits in 2nd on equal points with Great Britain’s Charlotte Dobson.

Despite becoming the new series leader, even Railey was kicking herself for a 10th in the 6th race, after scoring 2nd earlier in the day. “That second race was completely different from what we’ve sailed. I played it conservative, and people who were more aggressive passed me, so if it stays like that maybe we’ll reassess tactics.”

Overall though, Railey’s approach of conservative and consistent seems to be working. “I’m not going for glory, I’m not trying to win races, just stay in the hunt. The racing is really intense, partiularly today,” said Railey, who gave the racing an “8 or 9 out of 10” for difficulty”. One thing that marks out the top sailors in this fleet is their never-say-die attitude. “It could be easy to give up out there. But if you keep fighting to the end you make huge gains, if you give up you make huge losses.”

After five races in the men’s 70-boat fleet, Poland’s Zemke Wojciech continues to lead with a string of 1st places from his qualifying heats.

Laser Radial Europeans

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