The penultimate day of the RS:X Youth World Championships being held on Neva Bay in St Petersburg set everything up a nail-biting finale tomorrow. Four days ago when the championship started, there were 104 competitors from 19 different nations who were aspiring to stand on the podium tomorrow - that field of contenders has been narrowed down significantly after four days of intense and exciting racing in St Petersburg.
At the start of the day, St. Petersburg prepared another challenge for the participants in the championship in the form of a weak wind from 4 to 6 knots. Racing in such wind conditions is a real art - not as graceful as a ballerina - but with an equal amount of strength and balance required. The ability to take starts correctly and move in the right direction comes to the forefront. The cost of error in light and fitful winds can be medal losing.
“The direction of the wind was unstable - from the north-east and north to north-west,” said the race officer for the competition Vladimir Komel. "The girls entered the race only from the third start. Fortunately, the strength of the wind increased, and we had three races. The men had to rack their brains over tactics and work with the sea current. In general, the day was successful and fruitful."
In addition to weather conditions, windsurfers had to cope with their nervousness and there were also 18 protests on the water. “The protest activity has increased because tomorrow there will be a medal race for men and women. Everyone is trying hard to get into the top ten. Today they had the last opportunity to do this,” says Sergey Kuzovov, a member of the International Jury. “Sailing is like driving on a high-way where cars must be driven according to certain rules. Windsurfers also move in different directions and should diverge from each other. Our task is to find out all the details and understand who was right in the conflict. If someone has broken the rules, we will disqualify him or her.”
In the boys gold fleet, those who balanced their nerves, the weather and got the tactics rightwere the Israelis. Eyal Yohay Zror takes the lead going into the medal race with 23 points with his compatriots Daniel Basik Tashtash and Ruven Hillel - 25 and 27 points respectively. A little further back but still contenders for a medal are Greek Alexandros Kalpogiannakis and Frenchman Fabien Pianazza.
The medal race tomorrow will be a real battle of tactics as no-one is guaranteed a medal and if Zror has a bad day he could walk away with nothing from these championships having led the fleet for three days of racing. The reverse is that of Pianazza who ended the first day in 28th place and now sits fifth and a potential contender for a medal and could at a very outside chance still get gold.
“The number of protests can be explained by the fact that all the racers are very good,” says Israeli Daniel Basik Tashtash. “Everyone makes small mistakes, but in combination with the same mistakes of the other racers, this transforms into the protests. My teammate, Eyal, has almost as many points as I do. On the shore, we are the best friends with him, but on the water, each of us is for himself. I will try my best to win.”
Among the girls on Friday, the best sailor racer today was Yana Reznikova from Moscow. She came first twice and very quickly moved from the fourth position to the second. In the women's ranking, she is the second only to the French woman Manon Pianazza. Pianazza has been the most consistent racer at these championships and whilst she has not won a single race, she has almost every time finished in the top three. Due to this enviable stability, she is able to be ahead of Reznikova by three points. For comparison: Reznikova has won four races in these championships but has been less consistent. Third overall is the Israeli Naama Greenberg with compatriot Linoy Geva in fourth. It is these four sailors who are the only ones who can win a medal tomorrow, everyone else is racing for pride and overall position.
“In such weather, it’s important to be fast and move in the right direction,” says Naama Greenberg. “In the medal race, I will try to show the maximum. There is one race left, and I will try to win it. Yana Reznikova and Manon Pianazza are very fast, it is difficult to compete with them, but the more difficult, the more interesting.”
MEDAL RACE AT THE RS:X YOUTH WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
On August 10, at the RS:X Youth World Championship, one race in each fleet is planned. The highlight of the program will be the medal race.
For the 10 strongest racers the medal race is a contest between the best of the best, and it is the most spectacular end of the Championships. The points in the medal race are doubled, and gold will be at stake.
At 18:30 the awarding and closing ceremony of the regatta starts.