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RS:X class at Sailing Worlds Aarhus 2018: Dutch dominant as medals decided on final day

by Bas Edmonds, RS:X Class 13 Aug 2018 05:11 BST 2-12 August 2018
RS:X - Hempel Sailing World Championships, Aarhus, Denmark, August 2018 © Sailing Energy / World Sailing

Medal Race day at the 2018 Hempel Sailing World Championships could have fizzled out under a grey cloud of drizzle but the battle for the medals was an intense affair that had the crowds on the edge of their seats. With the world championship titles already decided, it became a tight contest for silver and bronze medals in both races with fortunes changing with every tack and gybe.

With racing taking place on the stadium course which has been renowned for giving sailors a gusty course with a breeze which swings wildly around – a tactical nightmare especially if looking to cover opponents to protect medal positions – it was always going to be a tricky day for the ten board fleets for men and women.

The men were up first and a clear start led to a split first beat with Poland's Tarnowski taking the right hand side of the course with his main medal rivals taking the left hand side. Starting the day in sixth place, it was Great Britain's Kieran Holmes Martin who played the tactical shifts and rounded the top mark in second place behind Italy's Mattia Camboni with a fingertip on the bronze medal. Holmes Martin extended on the run to lead around the gate with Camboni rounding the opposite gate close behind in second place.

Kiran Badloe was in fifth at this point and had the silver medal comfortably within his grasp. Louis Giard was further back in seventh and was in risk of losing out to Holmes Martin. On the next upwind it was Camboni again who led around the top mark followed by Holmes Martin but it was further back where the drama was taking place with Giard up to sixth and Badloe fifth, it was these two sailors that had bronze and silver before the final run to the finish.

Holmes Martin and Camboni were neck and neck coming into the last mark before the reach to the finish line. Camboni on the inside had right of way and Holmes Martin tried to go around the outside as the boards collided. A protest from Camboni was not awarded as the jury determined he had taken more room than he was entitled to and Holmes Martin pumped clear and finished in first place. Behind him, totally out of his control, Badloe came home in fifth place for silver and Giard in sixth place for bronze. Tarnowski who had started the day in bronze medal position, picked all of the wrong tactical positions and came home in tenth place and slipped down to fifth overall – a tough day out for the Pole.

Dorian van Rijsselberghe finished the day in third place in the race, the world title already his, and the smiles from the two Dutch sailors on the top two steps of the podium sends a message to the rest of the fleet – come and get us if you can!

The women were up next and the wind had dropped slightly to make it a fully pumping race. Emma Wilson from Great Britain, took the initiative and sailed a smart first beat, tacking on all of the different shifts to take a small lead at the top mark. Chasing hard behind her was Charline Picon from France, the Olympic champion showing her experience to overhaul Wilson on the run and lead around the bottom mark.

At this point Wilson was in medal contention, Chinese sailor Yunxiu Lu was down in eighth and undoing all of her hard work from earlier on in the week. However up the next beat, Lu managed to climb up into seventh whilst Hongmei Shi, also from China, threw Lu a lifeline by sliding past Wilson, dropping her down to third place and agonisingly out of the medals. Picon won the medal race to secure silver with Lu just doing enough to pip Wilson for the bronze medal.

Wilson's fourth place is a fantastic result for the 19 year old who, despite her age, is competing in her fourth senior world championships. One to keep a very close eye on for the future.

World champion Lillian De Geus from the Netherlands sailed the course and finished in sixth positon and finished an emphatic week 30 points clear of Picon. The Dutch have dominated this world championship in a similar way that the Chinese did in 2017. The worlds in 2019 will be held in Torbole, Italy and teams will have to make up some ground to challenge for the podium.

What they said;

Louis Giard, France – 3rd overall

Today was what I was expecting, offshore wind and unpredictable. The start was good but I missed the first gust and lost some places – I was focussed on Tarnowski and saw him make some mistakes and then needed to focus on the British guy and remember the points to him. Its my first time on the world podium, I remember the feelings for missing out before on a medal and this morning I said today I would not feel the same sadness again and win a medal today.

Kieran Martin Holmes – 4th overall

Today was really tricky, but all I had to do was try and win and hope the others didn't do so well, but Giard did just enough to get ahead of me. The tangle at the bottom mark was close, I was on the outside and the Italian on the inside and the jury saw I was in the right and didn't give me a penalty. Next I've got some downtime for a while then off to Japan for a month for the World Cup.

Emma Wilson – 4th overall

I gave it everything, I had a good start and a first beat. Racing against Charline, I needed her to have a bad race and me to have a good one to get bronze. At the end of the day I'm fourth in the world and I am super happy with that.

This week has also been the first opportunity for countries to qualify for Tokyo 2020, with 40% of the overall athlete quota being awarded to these world championships.

The RS:X Men featured 85 competitors from 33 nations with the top ten nations securing a berth at Tokyo 2020.

  1. China
  2. France
  3. Great Britain
  4. Greece
  5. Israel
  6. Italy
  7. Netherlands
  8. Norway
  9. Poland
  10. Spain
The RS:X Women featured 62 competitors from 28 nations with the top eleven nations securing a berth at Tokyo 2020.
  1. China
  2. Denmark
  3. Estonia
  4. France
  5. Great Britain
  6. Israel
  7. Italy
  8. Netherlands
  9. Poland
  10. Russia
  11. Spain
The RS:X sailors move on to their European Championships in Sopot, Poland starting on the 19th August where the next opportunity to race takes place.

For full results visit aarhus2018.sailing.org/results.

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