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RS Aero World Championship at Calasetta, Sardinia, Italy - Day 1

by Elena Giolai 26 Jul 22:49 BST 26-30 July 2023

The RS Aero World Championship has kicked off in Calasetta with the eagerly anticipated Mistral winds providing a thrilling spectacle, blowing at 18-20 knots.

The UK has a strong presence, with many helmsmen securing top positions in the early races.

The Lega Navale del Sulcis is fully committed until Sunday, July 30th, to award the coveted world titles.

The first day of races at the RS Aero World Championship, taking place in Calasetta (Southern Sardinia, Sulcis), and organized by Lega Navale Italiana del Sulcis in collaboration with the Federazione Italiana Vela and the RS Aero Class, was marked by tight competition, thrilling surfs, and many fun planing moments. This year's RS Aero World Championship has set new records with 136 participants from 19 countries, as highlighted by International Class President Peter Barton during the opening ceremony on Tuesday late afternoon.

The teams paraded from the Torre Sabauda in Calasetta to the harbor, crossing the town center. The event was attended by the mayor of Calasetta Claudia Mura and the President of the III Zona FIV Sardegna Corrado Fara, along with Salvatore Turco, President of Lega Navale del Sulcis, and Guido Sirolli, President of RS Aero Class Italy, and International Class President Peter Peter Barton, who officially declared the championships open. Countries from overseas, such as Korea, Australia, the United States, New Zealand, Canada, and Australia, are also participating in the event.

The long-awaited Mistral winds finally refreshed the air after the record-breaking temperatures in Sardinia in the past few days. The Mistral started blowing on Tuesday morning and continued with an intensity of 18-20 knots today, accompanied by short and steep waves that challenged some participants who were not accustomed to racing in such conditions. The day saw three races completed for the RS Aero 9, 7, 6, and 5 fleets, each divided based on the chosen sail size.

In the RS Aero 5 fleet, the British dominated the provisional standings, with Mark Ripley (Youth) leading the way after achieving three first-place finishes in strong winds. Chloe George (2-3-2) is the top female sailor and is currently in second place, followed by Sammy Isaacs-Johnson in third. The first Italian and junior sailor is Giacomo Zanzini (CN Rimini), placed sixth overall.

In the RS Aero 6, there is a tie for the lead between Australian Rhett Gowans (1-6-1) and British sailor Chris Hatton (3-1-4). Andrew Frost (5-3-2), another Brit, currently holds the provisional third place. Ukrainian sailor Sofiia Naumenko is the leading female racer and holds the fourth position overall. Giacomo Gatta (CN Savio) represents Italy as the leading Youth sailor, currently in seventh place.

In the RS Aero 7, Peter Peter Barton (GBR) leads the pack with a 1-2-4 record, just one point ahead of the American Jay Renehan (2-1-5, master category). Noah Rees (3-3-2) from the UK follows in the provisional third place. Italian Filippo Vincis, representing Lega Navale del Sulcis, is currently in sixth place with improving results, having achieved 10-9-6 finishes.

The RS Aero 9 fleet has a significant American presence due to the larger 9 sqm sail. The American sailor Keith Hammer tops the provisional standings with a 2-1-1 record, holding a 5-point advantage over the British racer Robbie Lawson (3-3-3). The Norwegian Henrik Schrader (6-4-4) sits in third place. American Dyklan Williams leads the junior category.

On Thursday, races are scheduled to start at 12:00, with weather forecasts predicting the Mistral to decrease to 9-13 knots. It will be interesting to see if the current leaders can maintain their momentum in lighter winds.

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