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RS:X class at Sailing Worlds Aarhus 2018: Double Dutch as medal contenders shape up

by Bas Edmonds, RS:X Class 10 Aug 03:52 BST 2-12 August 2018
RS:X - Hempel Sailing World Championships - Aarhus, Denmark - August 2018 © Jesus Renedo/Sailing Energy/Aarhus 2018

On what turned out to be a perfect day to advertise the sport of sailing, three races were completed for all RS:X fleets at the 2018 Hempel Sailing World Championships being held at Aarhus, Denmark in stunning sailing conditions. With medal races taking place for the Finn and 470 classes, it was an indication of the goal of the week – to win a world title – which would certainly have racked up the pressure on the RS:X sailors as they headed out to the race course areas.

The men's fleet got a sneak preview of the medal race course by sailing their first two races on the "stadium course" which comes with a grandstand and big screen for the crowds. It is on this course area in three days' time that the winners and medallists for the 2018 RS:X world championships will be fought out.

Two time Olympic champion, Dorian van Rijsselberghe from the Netherlands leads the pack after a consistent day at the office posting a 5, 5, 7 to finish the day 10 points ahead of Poland's Pawel Tarnowski, who gave up the leaders bib following a difficult day and scored 15, 3, 12 through the day. Great Britain's Kieran Martin Holmes took advantage of others mis-fortunes and moved up to third overall with a solid 12, 7, 4.

Van Rijsselberghe has enjoyed the event so far, "Today was fun, the stadium course threw a little bit of everything at us today and it was tough for us big boys. We have another three races tomorrow so it's all on. After Hyeres I had a wakeup call that I needed to put some time into my training and my training group of Kiran (Badloe), Ivan (Pastor) and Sebastian (Fleischer) have really helped my speed. This event is really important to me, I talked to the people around me and agreed to do another campaign so doing well here is really important."

With eight different nations sat in the top ten at the end of today, the race to qualify for Tokyo is extremely tight and the battles for the ten country spots will be intense tomorrow. Koreas Tae Hoon Lee is sitting in 15th overall and is the 11th nation overall. On tomorrows racing Tae Hoon commented, "Tomorrow is a big day. I hope its windy conditions and I will focus on the guys on front and just try to do my best. I have really enjoyed Aarhus, it's such a beautiful city here and I love Denmark."

It was another Pole, Maciej Kluszczyaski who had the best scores, taking a 2, 1, 14, showing off a light wind pace and experience that others could not match. Israel's Yoav Cohen led for most of the first race before the teenager was reeled in and was the only other sailor who could claim to match Kluszczyaski for speed in the mornings conditions.

Like Van Rijsselberghe, The Netherlands' Lillian De Geus will wear the yellow bib heading into the penultimate days racing with a five point lead over China's Yunxiu Lu. De Geus had a shock in the first race of the day and scored an uncharacteristic 31st place, which given her run of top 6 places for the whole event, was a massive blip in the scorecard. De Geus regained her composure to immediately follow this up with a race win and finished the day with a 6th place in the final race. Poland's Zofia Noceti-Klepacka holds onto third place and leads a tightly bunched group of sailors with only 11 points separating Noceti-Klepacka through to Great Britain's Bryony Shaw in 8th.

On the racing today, De Gues, "It was tricky on the course and it was typical gold fleet racing so you are sailing with the world's best windsurfers. It looked quite stable out there but it really wasn't and there were lots of opportunities to lose places. It's been good to get a balance of different winds at this regatta which has showed my all round skills which is nice".

An indication of again how tough racing is in gold fleet is that no-one had a blemish free day, with every racer picking up a double figure result throughout the day. Reigning world champion Piena Chen from China had been battling back from a poor first day and continued this with a 3, 2 from the first two races before picking up a 22nd in the final race of the day.

Chen commented, "Today was a very tough day for me. The wind was very shifty and lots of people were going up and down the fleet. I've been sailing with a bad back this week so I am pleased to be sailing and every day I want to be going just a little bit better". Chen finished the day in 7th overall and will hope for some solid results on Friday to hopefully put her into medal contention for Sunday.

Estonia's Ingrid Puusta sits in 21st place overall but, more importantly, Estonia is the 11th nation with the top ten countries qualifying for Tokyo at this event. On the challenge ahead of her Puusta commented, "Its going to be a really interesting day, probably the most important day of the event for me. I like planning conditions so hopefully I can sail well and qualify my country tomorrow".

The forecast for tomorrow, whilst generally unpredictable in Aarhus, is for some stronger winds and planning conditions which may just upset the form guide one more time before we narrow the field once more to just ten men and ten women for Sunday's medal races.

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