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2019 RS500 World Championship at Lake Lipno, Czech Republic

by Peter Curtis 25 Aug 16:35 BST 5-9 August 2019
2019 RS500 World Championship at Lake Lipno © Martina Barnetova

Fifty nine RS500s gathered at beautiful Lake Lipno in the South Western corner of the Czech Republic for the classes tenth world championships, over the week of the 5th-9th August.

While the home nation comprised the biggest contingent, there were 11 nations represented, with the Dutch providing the second largest grouping, and representatives from as far afield as the USA and Russia. Disappointingly there were only two teams from the UK, with the distance and the venue's reputation of light winds possibly putting some off.

That reputation seemed well deserved during weekend practices and warm-ups, with occasional half-hours of wind associated with local thunderstorms punctuating the overall very gentle breezes.

Day one was promised to be better by the organisers, and they scheduled a 10.30 start following the opening ceremony and banquet the night before. Fortunately the start area was only a few minutes from the launch area, so it wasn't too early a start, but the day dawned with light winds and a postponement. Fortunately we were able to get out and start by 11.30. The wind was all too familiar to summer inland sailors with some very large shifts and changes in strength. While seeming to be random to the visitors, the locals seemed to know what was going on and generally had a strong day. However, all three race winners on the day also counted at least a tenth in their total, showing that there was significant variability on the racetrack.

Race 2 was particularly random, with father/son team of Peter and James Curtis (GBR) leading Mike Saul and Ollie Kent (GBR) into the final beat, and both seemingly comfortably ahead of the chasing pack. They hung left on the beat which seemed to be where the dying breeze was strongest, and consequently missed the wind filling in from the right. Curtis/Curtis managed to scramble back across to third place, with the race being shortened at the top mark, but Saul/Kent dropped to 16th.

Standings at the end of the day had the brother/sister team of Jakub Dobry and Tereza Dobra (CZE) leading, with a consistent 4,2,2, followed by Curtis/Curtis with 5,3,5 and the all-female team of Sara Tkadlecova and Klara Houskova (CZE) in third with 10,1,3. The team drinking relays in the evening were easily won by the Czechs, although the USA and GBR teams showed some form. Fortunately the scheduled start time was a more relaxed 11.00 for day two.

The wind was definitely up on the second day, and was much more consistent. Wind speeds were typically in the mid-teens knots, so not an out-and-out blast, but downwind we were heating up the majority of the time. A number of the light wind specialists who did well on day one struggled in the three races held. Results were likewise more consistent during the day, with the GBR contingent starting to show their pace. Saul/Kent won the first and last races, with a fourth in the middle race, but they were outdone on the day by Curtis/Curtis who had 2,1,2.

Third team on the day were clearly Tkadlecova/Houskova, with 3,3,4, and they were consistently getting the top start in the fleet. Also starting to find some pace were the Roncuzzi brothers, Iacopo and Federico (ITA), with 4,5,3. The Brits appeared to have an edge, but the chasing pack were fighting hard. Tuesday evening's entertainment was a pleasure boat trip down the length of the lake, with food and drink aboard. The daily prizegiving was done when we returned, along with the premier of the first highlights video.

Day 3 was a return to lighter and shiftier conditions, although not as extreme as day one. Also, two days of concentrated racing meant that the fleet were starting to read the changing conditions better (or certainly they were at the front). Mike Saul gave a masterclass of both strategic and tactical sailing to win the first two races of the day, in both cases taking the lead on the final run. Dobry/Dobra were back in the hunt after suffering on the windier day, while local club members Michal Lojka and Petra Lojkova (CZE) had their best result of the championship with a second in the second race.

With the wind dying in the early afternoon the fleet were sent ashore to await the late afternoon breeze. Yeah, right, thought most of us, not much chance of that happening. But lo, the wind did come in, and it was solid in the mid-teens. Curtis/Curtis decided these were their conditions and took the win, but Saul/Kent, while lying third, had an altercation with one of the Italian boats which led to a protest; the hearing for which was delayed until the following day while video evidence was sought and studied. The Roncuzzi brothers took second and Giulia Rossi and Adriana Campanella (ITA) came third in their best result of the week.

Day 4 had another three races scheduled, because although the championship had a maximum of 13 the forecast for the final day was poor, so the organisers wanted to get in as many as possible. The wind was mostly in the 10-14 knot region with the usual lake sailing shiftiness one would expect. The two British teams were top two and clear of the pack at the start of the day, although Saul/Kent had the protest from the previous day hanging over them. They both chose pin end starts for the first race, as there seemed to be a benefit going close to the bank for the first portion of the beat. This definitely paid and the pair duelled ahead of the chasing pack, with the lead changing hands each lap. Curtis/Curtis eventually took the win with Saul/Kent second and the Roncuzzi brothers third.

Race 2 was almost a re-run, except this time Saul/Kent crossed the line ahead of Curtis/Curtis and Dobry/Dobra got the advantage over the Roncuzzis. However, examining the naughty board before the third race showed that Saul/Kent were UFD meaning they had to count a high scoring race, while the Curtis's were discarding 5ths; so Curtis/Curtis took the win and the title.

The third race had Curtis/Curtis again taking the pin, but this time only just heading the Roncuzzis at the top mark. However, they were not troubled thereafter and slowly extended their lead to take their third win of the day. The battle for third was intense, but Tkadlecova/Houskova suffered bad luck with their centreboard breaking while planing downwind in that pack. Dobry/Dobra eventually took third. The entertainment that evening was the now-famous Dutch party with many drinking games and some serious dancing after the premier of highlights volume II.

As forecast, the wind did not turn up on day 5, although the fleet was put on stand-by to launch at about 14.30, but what breeze there was then died again. All agreed this had been a very well run event, both onshore and afloat. The race team got races away and did a really good job changing the top marks to match the changing wind conditions. The catering was good (with the food and beer as we came off the water particularly welcome), the socials were excellent and everyone was friendly. It should be noted that the RS500 really is an equal opportunities boat: the top ten included three all female teams, and mixed teams with both male and female helms; it also featured an age range from 17-62.

Overall Results: (top five)

1. Peter Curtis / James Curtis GBR 659 18pts
2. Iacopo Roncuzzi / Federico Roncuzzi ITA 1604 37pts
3. Jakub Dobry / Tereza Dobra CZE 1672 42pts
4. Mike Saul / Ollie Kent GBR 1040 46pts
5. Sara Tkadlecova / Klara Houskova CZE 1010 48pts

Find full results at rs500worlds.cz/results

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