Day two of the RS:X Europeans, being held in Vilamoura Portugal, was always going to be a tough day for the 43 men and 31 women competing for the European titles.
Firstly the forecast was for a wet front to come through at some point during the day and the schedule was brought forward to 0930 to try and get all of the racing in. As the sailors turned up at the board park, the signs of overnight rain was obvious as some parts were flooded and the wind was whipping the bay of Vilamoura up into a windsurfers perfect playground.
The race team got the women’s fleet off first time whilst the men for the first race had a general recall. By the time the men were halfway up the first beat, the weather changed thanks to a very dark cloud – bringing with it strong gusts and reducing visibility down to almost zero with hard rain. The race team decided to stick with the race and the sailors battled around the course to get the first of three races done for the day.
The next two races for the women and men were raced in a dropping breeze that was also constantly changing, keeping the mark layers busy and they were constantly moving the course again to accommodate the shifting winds. By the end of the third race of the day the women were still planing but some of the men were struggling to keep on the plane towards the very end as the breeze kept dying as the day wore on. On coming ashore there were some very tired bodies and heads.
For the women’s fleet, France’s Charline Picon kept her leaders jersey having scored a 10, 1, 1 from the day’s racing and has 10 points overall. The tenth place for Picon could be critical to the Championship come the final day, as in such a competitive fleet she can not afford to pick up another discard. Lurking in second place is Katy Spychakov from Israel who had the most consistent day in the fleet scoring 2, 2, 5 and sits seven points behind Picon. Crucially Spychakov has a better discard than Picon which could prove vital come the end of the event. In third place is Great Britain’s Emma Wilson who won the first race of the day and sits just one point behind Spychakov.
Wilson commented on the racing, “It was really good fun when we got out to the race course this morning. In the first race we had a massive windshift and a big rain squall, I was on the right and the wind went right so that was pretty good for me. The next two races were also good for me. I am really enjoying being able to race again in these conditions and looking forward to the next few days and make the most of racing.”
Israel’s Yoav Cohen also retains his leaders jersey going into Thursday’s racing having scored 2, 5, 4 from the day and has already built up a strong buffer of 11 points over fellow Israeli Yoav Omer who sits in second place overall. The Europeans are a selection event for the Israel team which is likely why they have four sailors in the top eight at the halfway mark – intense competition for the team throughout this week.
Cohen commented, “It is great to be back racing again and on the water. Today was full action – rain, wind and waves and I had so much adrenaline today.”
Eternal RS:X class veteran Byron Kokkalanis has climbed to third overall, putting behind him a poor opening day where he was languishing in 17th overall – a scoreline of 6, 1, 1 showing off his determination to be within six points of second place overall. Kokkalanis has won numerous European medals and will be keen to secure another one this week and maybe even the title.
Tomorrow the forecast is looking like light winds again and the racing is back to the scheduled time in the program. An RS:X event with a mixture of wind conditions always sees the overall lead swing back and forth as light wind vs heavy wind specialists shine depending on the conditions. The light conditions for the rest of the week will likely shake the leaderboard up again. Racing continues through to Saturday where the medals will be decided in a top ten medal race.