The penultimate day of the RS:X Europeans and Youth Europeans, being held at Mallorca, Spain, was very much a case of déjà vu as the 333 expectant competitors turned up at the Club Nautica Arenal this morning. Another warm sunny day, sandy beach and turquoise blue waters, with just the key ingredient of wind missing!
However, in the true spirit of déjà vu, at midday, the wind started to fill in as per the previous three days and about an hour later, the fleets were on the water ready to race. Déjà vu played the final card of the day in providing what can only be described as a “crazy wind” which played havoc with nerves of the sailors, coaches and the race officials - again!
The Men’s gold fleet got three races onto the scoreboard today and it was all change at the top. Overnight leader, Louis Giard from France had what can only be described as a day to forget. Having won the opening race of the day which consolidated his lead, Giard then scored a 22nd and a 26th in the following two races to drop down to fourth overall. The benefactor of Giard’s misfortune was Dutchman Kiran Badloe who was the fleets most consistent performer of the day with a 2, 2, 7. Badloe is a comfortable 13 points clear of the reigning World and Olympic Champion, Dorian van Rijssleberge and has assured himself of a gold or silver medal this week - colour to be determined tomorrow.
Both van Rijsselberge and Badloe were first and second in the 2018 World Championships, where Giard came third. Badloe has the opportunity to turn the tables and stand above van Rijsselberge, but for this Dutch pairing its more than about winning. Badloe, “It doesn’t get much closer than we are, we are best friends and we are sharing what we love doing around the world. I'd love to be on the top step of the podium as would Dorian, but we both know it’s a competition and we are both going to give it our best but I hope I am on the top tomorrow. It's not so much of a rivalry, it's more like racing against your mate and I would much rather beat my mate than a rival.”
Whilst van Rijsselberge could technically take gold from Badloe, he also could technically lose the silver with the French duo of Thomas Goyard in third and Louis Giard in fourth with veteran Byron Kokkalanis also in with a chance of a medal. A four-way battle for two medals.
In the Women’s gold fleet, Yunxiu Lu (China) still holds a slender 7 point lead over Charline Picon (France) with Lilian de Geus (Netherlands) two points further back. Emma Wilson from Great Britain is in fourth and the three medals will be decided by these four sailors. At the 2018 World Championships, it was de Geus who got the better of Picon, the Olympic Champion. Lu is clearly out to spoil the party.
Whilst Wilson has the Under 21 title secured, she is aiming to repeat her bronze medal from 2018. Wilson on the racing today, “I've been out here since February training as it’s a good winter base. The racing today was tricky, likes it been all week. We had 10-12 knots but it was very gusty and shifty, like its been all week. I'd love to repeat my medal from last year but there are some really strong girls in front of me so it's going to be tough but I'll just do my best.”
In the Youth Men gold fleet, there are again four sailors that are capable of winning a medal come sun down tomorrow. France’s Fabien Pianazza starts tomorrow in pole position with 21 points and a three-point lead over Nicolo Renna (Italy). Renna had been on blistering form going into today's racing but slowed slightly today to give Pianazza a couple more points advantage. Vardimon Tomer (Israel) is three points further back in third and has Yun Pouliquen (France) just a point behind. Mathematically, the medals could go to any combination of three of these sailors and it will be fascinating to see how the tactics roll out as the race unfolds.
In the Under 21 fleet, Israels Daniel Basik Tashtash has sailed a hugely impressive regatta to secure the title and make the medal race. This young competitor still has another two years in the Under 17 fleet and is certainly a future Youth European champion.
The Youth Women gold fleet there are six different sailors that could take a medal home in what is going to be another tight contest. Heloise Macquaert from France scored 3, 4, 2 to hold a two-point lead over Naama Gazit of Israel who scored 1, 1, 7. Another Israeli Linoy Geva is in third place 11 points back with Cypriot Natasa Lappa on equal points with Geva.
Manon Pianazza from France scored the best results of the day with 2, 2, 3 and moves into the medal, into 9th place and leads the Under 17 fleet. Pianazza joins her brother in securing a medal at these championships to make it a family success story for the week.