Sunday 5 September 2010

RS:X Worlds: The Kerteminde rollercoaster ride - Gold Medals for Poland and Spain

Ashley (NZL) 6th and Tobin (NZL) 8th overall in Men's Fleet; Ashley won the medal race

RS:X Worlds. Image copyright Vincenzio Baglione.

by Henrik Møhl

Rollercoaster ride was the best description of today’s two final races of the RS:X World Championships in Kerteminde, Denmark with victory going to Poland’s Piotr Myszka in the Men’s class and to Blancha Manchon from Spain in the Women.

Despite the short medal race courses for the top 10 competitors, there were dramatic place changes in both fleets with the final podium positions fluctuating by the minute as each race progressed. Ultimately the winner in each class ended up claiming their title, just a point ahead of second.

The Women’s race was held in brilliant sunshine and light to moderate conditions with the wind coming more from the east than it has all week. This segued straight into the Men’s race by which time the wind had lightened yet more and there were substantial gains and losses with the 10 sailors running into wind holes across the course. For both fleets there was a further challenge as they found themselves negotiating a minefield of weed that had washed into the Bay of Kerteminde after Friday night’s torrential rain.

Poland went into today’s medal race holding the top two positions in the Men’s class, their three time Olympic representative Przemyslaw Miarczynski trailing Piotr Myszka. But at one point on the first beat eventual winner, Myszka, was last and set to return home without a medal of any colour.

“We started planing, but there was so much weed we couldn’t go up because all the time we’d get caught, so I had to put the daggerboard up and then it was ‘go, go go’!” Myszka said of his terrible opening leg. While the right side of the course died on the first upwind leg it came alive on the second and Myszka was fortunate to pull back on this and the final downwind before the slalom home to the finish.

“I had to go maximum and I did it, I won the race and I won everything,” said Myszka. “I am so excited. I couldn’t believe this, but it happened. In the middle of the race I was off the podium but then I came back from nowhere and won the race. I am really happy with my first RS:X Worlds win - hopefully it will not be the last.”

This is Poland’s first World Championship win in the RS:X, although Przemyslaw Miarczynski won in the Mistral class in 2003.

The most extreme reaction to her victory came from Blanca Manchon, who crossed the line satisfied with being second. “I win????” she exclaimed, leaping up and down on the coach boat upon hearing that leader going into the medal race, Italian Alessandra Sensini, had finished sixth. “I thought I was second – I was happy with that! Oh my god...!”

Ashore she had calmed only slightly. “Today I only thought to sail my race and do my best and try to win. It was crazy because there was a lot of weed in the water. It was lucky because I got rid of the grass at a good moment and I pumped and pumped with all my body. I’m sorry - I can’t speak any more because I am so happy.”

While she held the lead around the top mark, she lost it on the run and Manchon says it wasn’t until the final downwind that she got ahead with only France’s Charline Picon close behind.

“I trained so hard and I think this may be luck and whether it is or not it is really emotional because my family is here and all the people in Spain are with me....and I’m World Champion!” In fact the only person more worked up about Manchon’s win was her mother Maria Antonia Dominguez, who was competing at this World Championship in the silver fleet.

Rory Ramsden, Chief Operating Officer of the RS:X Class was satisfied with this week of racing in Denmark. “It was difficult to start with, but it has turned out good and who could ask for more? We had some great racing, good wind and the sailors have really enjoyed the racing. Today two good medal races and a dramatic end to a dramatic event. I am chuffed to bits.”

Ramsden was responsible for the RS:X class embracing the new Danish technology Sailstream, being used to enhance the internet experience of following the event with video streamed live from the race course alongside fleet tracking provided by TracTrac.

“We are very pleased to be in the vanguard with this - live video is definitely the way ahead,” says Ramsden who reveals that the technology is to be used at the RS:X class’ major championships in 2011 and 2012. “We are going to add a live scoring system to it and we are investigating other technologies to add to it.”

ISAF President Göran Petersson has been in Kerteminde to follow the racing and once again was impressed with the set-up provided by the Danish hosts. “I think they have a model that works very well with the co-operation between the sailing areas, the sailing club, the volunteers, the community, the sponsors, Danish Sailing Association, Sport Event Denmark and the local Sport Events which take care of not only the sport part of it but also the tourist effects and things like that. I think they are very successful in this.”

Petersson was also fully behind the new SailStream technology being trialled for the first time ever at this regatta. “We have to move the races and the stories about the races closer to those people who want to look and listen. They cannot come out to us, we have to come to them and that has to be pictures and comments and it has to be live and in real time and they are achieving this here. I understand there is still some development still to be made, but this absolutely is the way to go.”

Petersson reckons this should be in place not just in time for London 2012 by in time for the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships in December next year.

Petersson won’t be drawn on the prospects of Denmark hosting the 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships. Bids for this are to be submitted in the autumn and a decision will be made next spring. “Like the IOC we don’t want to take risks with our big events. We want to have someone who has a proven record they can deliver a good event and Denmark for sure has.”

RS:X Worlds