The Flying Dutchman Wins By Two Points

Dorian van Rijsselberghe NED went in to the medal race under pressure. His 8th in the 10th race yesterday had gifted the lead to Pole Piotr Myszka. One point separated them at the start. With medal race points counting double, whoever won this duel would be the 2011 RS:X Word Windsurfing Champion.

The Start boat was moved away from its ‘traditional’ spot close to the Northern breakwater in Bathers bay so that the second slalom end gybe mark could be placed right in front of the grandstand.

With the preliminaries dealt with the fleet split in half with the New Zealanders leading the group going right in to the building pressure being delivered by the ‘Doctor’. At the top mark for the first time, it was Byron Kokalanis GRE who lead with Ivan Pastor ESP 50 metres back in  2nd and Julien Bontemps FRA 3rd.

These guys were not ‘players’ in the struggle for supremacy. The battle was further back

It was the Flying Dutchman who rounded 4th with a clear lead over the two Polish sailors. Przemyslaw Miarczinski was closest. Piotr was effectively out of touch with Dorian and now had to focus on protecting the silver medal position from Pont which he did.

JP Tobin NZL had gone into the medal race trailing Tom Ashley his compatriot and was determined to make it an three. He has beaten Tom in a straight fight twice already this year. Their duel will go on but JP is out to load the deck in his favor by the biggest margin possible.

Tom won the gold medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. To displace an established medal winner in the national selection for 2012 will be tough which is why JP has to do more than ever to establish that he is the ‘man to pick.

On the other hand spectators are wondering how Przemsylaw can be picked to go to the Games when Piotr beat him to become the 2010 RS:X World Champion and beat him again to take the silver medal at the 2011 RS:X Worlds too.

So Dorian is the 2011 RS:X World Windsurfing Champion, Piotr is  second and Nimrod Mashiah ISR take the bronze.

The RS:X Race Committee are to be congratulated for delivering the best possible racing they could. Sometimes in difficult circumstances. A big thank you to them for their hard work and dedication.

The Perth 2011 organisers are also to congratulated in taking the ISAF Sailing World Championships and moving it forward from 2007 in a big way. There is still more work to be done to bring Olympic sailing into the 21st century in terms of media and technology and perhaps even more fundamentally in defining a clear vision and strategy that will accommodate the sailors desire for great racing, the public’s growing appetite for online coverage and the sponsor’s desire for TV coverage.

We are moving in the right direction but there’s still a long way to go before the sport moves fully into the modern era…

 

 

 

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RS:X Worlds: Fast, Faster And Fastest

There was fast wind and equally fast windsurfing in the Men’s RS:X Gold fleet racing Saturday, with Piotr Myszka (POL), Dorian van Rijsselberghe (NED) and Przemyslaw Miarczynski (POL) filling the top three places overall.

Just one point separates world number one Myszka (24) and van Rijsselberghe (25) ahead of Sunday’s Medal race.

Race 9 and 10 on Saturday produced mixed results and slightly shuffled the top 10.

The first race of the day was marked by two things; a constant divide of athletes and a consistent top three that lead for much of the race.

Andreas Cariolou (GRE) took a third of the sailors to the left, while Tom Ashley (NZL) led the remaining two thirds right.

Fifteen minutes into the race and a strong top three emerged with New Zealand’s Ashley blazing the trail, followed by Piotr Myszka (POL) and Ricardo Winicki Santos (BRA).

After another split Elliot Carney (GBR) sped ahead, warding off teammate Nick Dempsey while Greece’s Byron Kokkalanis was tailed by Miarczynski.

Dorian van Risselberghe appeared to be lost in the crowd for much of the race but in a dramatic turn of events began to overtake his rivals, first Cariolou, then Santos. But despite his efforts, van Risselberghe couldn’t gain enough pace to outdo Ashley (NZL) and Myszka (POL).

Ashley spent most of the race well out in front, but Myszka caught up to cross just one second later. That win saw Ashley move from 9th to 5th overall.

In race 10, no-one could come between the two Polish sailors Myszka and Miarczynski.

Van Risselberghe once again started poorly, but in the second race of the day he didn’t recover.

Similarly, Nimrod Mashich (ISR) fell short of his recent winning streak, placing 8th and 9th on Saturday.

Medal Race competitors (subject to protest): 1. Piotr Myszka (POL); 2. Dorian van Rijsselberghe (NED); 3. Przemyslaw Miarczynski (POL); 4. Nimrod Mashich (ISR); 5. Tom Ashley (NZL); 6. Jon Paul Tobin (NZL); 7. Byron Kokkalanis (GRE); 8. Joao Rodrigues  (POR); 9. Ivan Pastor (ESP); 10. Julien Bontemps (FRA).

The men’s RS:X Medal Race is scheduled to begin on Centre course at 1510 local time on Sunday.

RS:X Worlds: Crushing It On The Centre Course

Piotr Myszka [POL] the 2010 RS:X World Windsurfing Champion is in no mood to pass his crown on to someone else. He went out on to the centre course determined to put himself in a position to attack Dorian van Rijsselberghe [NED] in the medal race tomorrow.

The way it played out has probably exceeded his wildest dreams. He posted two second places but Dorian faltered. Normal service was delivered in the first race of the day – 3rd – but in the second he dropped to 8th.

The problem is that he just cannot discard it. Remember that 16th he scored in race 3. He must be kicking himself tonight for not reading the course board on the back of the start boat correctly. Talk about putting yourself under unnecessary pressure.

With one point between them a major head-to-head is in prospect.

Back in 3rd Przemyslaw Miarczyinski [POL] is 13 points off the pace so probably not able to overhaul his countryman. But he will be fully occupied by Nimrod Mashiah [ISR] who started this regatta in a blaze of 1s and 2s and then took his foot off the gas pedal to slip steadily down the order. He’s 2 points back.

There will be a three way standoff for the bronze medal. Tom Ashley came into the mix today. He blew the fleet away in the 15 knot sea breeze in the 9th race in the series by the simple expedient of reading the pressure spot on.

Straight off the start, he put in a long tack out to the right hand side of the course, tacked one and crossed the whole fleet as the smoked up the starboard layline to the windward mark. Rounding with a decisive lead, Piotr could find no way back and nor could Dorian who was scrambling to make up places from behind.

5th in race 10 did not quite do it for him. He is now 8 points adrift of the bronze medal which translates into 5 medal race places between him and Pont. It’s a tall order.

Elliot Carney [GBR] went into the day just one point off a place in the medal race. He was down in the pits area in plenty of time to check his equipment and make some precautionary replacements. He clearly was going out to secure that coveted first medal race spot.

Sadly it wasn’t to be . In race 9 he went left towards the grandstand where the strong sea breeze was forced to rise over the sea wall reducing the pressure significantly. He repeated the mistake in race 10 to post a 14 and a 19 and drop back to 14th overall just behind Nick Demspey [GBR] who has had a less than sparkling regatta to put it mildly.

The reverse is true for Elliot who is now on the verge of a big breakthrough just like Zac Plavsic [CAN] whose time training with Dorian and JP has paid off handsomely.  He was back on form today posting a 9 and a 6 to finish 12th overall which is possibly the highest placed finisher by any North American athlete in a decade.

And the country that did not make the cut to qualify his nation for London 2012 ?

Well, The Russian athlete Dmitrii Polishchuk finished his championship off in style to climb well out of the danger zone. That means that the last country through the door is Australia with Tim Gourlay and Luke Baillie just doing enough to make their shot at qualification stick

And the unlucky one… was Grillo Santiago from Colombia. The one saving grace that he can take home with him is that he finished on top of the pile of also-rans. Now 16 countries will go to Cadiz, Spain for the 2012 RS:X World Windsurfing Championships to fight over the last 9 national qualifying places. Grillo knows that one of those places has his name on it.

Here are the nations qualified: NED, POL, ISR, NZL, GRE, POR, ESP, FRA, BRA, CAN, GER, CYP, SUI, UKR, ARG, CHN, KOR, JPN, HUN, HKG, CRO, NOR, ITA, LTU, USA, RUS, MEX, AUS

Qualified by right: GBR

Those to qualify in 2012: COL, BUL, THA, EST, CZE, SVK, TPE, SIN, VEN, DEN, PHI, PAK, LAT, PER, EGY, SLO,

 

 

RS:X Worlds – Off The Pace in The Offshore Breeze

Consistency is king and the Dutch Flyer is proving to be the King of Consistency. Dorian van Rijsselberghe [NED] set a blistering pace in the off shore winds on the Leighton race track to day leaving his rivals distinctly off the pace.

He has extended his lead as we come to the business end of the regatta. Posting a bullet in the first. A 4th in the second. And a 3d in then 3rd. He was the only one to master the tricky 15 knot plus conditions.

Piotr Myszka [POL] put in a 6th and a 2nd but blew the third race. Nimrod Mashiah [ISR] went 8, 12, 5. Prsemyslaw Miarczynski [POL] posted a 15th then redeemed himself with a bullet before falling to 8th in the third. Byron Kokalanis [GRE] crashed to 43rd in the first before finishing the day with a 3 and a one.

I think you get the point.

Dorian leads by 6 points tonight and is obviously in a special place that no one else can find. With two more races on Saturday in which to claw back some ground, the threat to Dorian’s crown is looking less likely than ever to upset his rhythm.

Elliot Carney [GBR] ceded his place in the top 10 to Julien Bontemps [FRA] but there’s just one point in it so with his tail up and he can still make his first major medal race. This his moment. His time to come out of the shadows and become a number that no one can ignore whatever they have won in the past.

Back in the national qualification zone, the battle is between Australia, Colombia and Russia for the last 2 coveted slots. There are only 4 points in it so which country is excluded is by no means certain.

Tomorrow, Friday is a rest day so no racing here in Perth for the RS:X Windsurfing Fleets. We’re back on Saturday for last two course races and the forecast is for the breeze to be on. Some will be praying for the Doctor to do his stuff. We’ve only had one genuine day of sea breeze in the last 10 days…

 

RS:X Worlds: Focus on Joao Rodrigues

By Bevan Eakins of the Western Australian

Ask Roao Rodrigues if he is famous and with a quite smile he’ll say: “Not in Portugal, but in Madeira, yes.”

Ask somebody in the world of windsurfing about the self-effacing athlete and you’ll get a completely different answer.

He’s a rock star of the sport. When he talks others listen,” says Rory Ramsden, a veteran windsurfing official and international judge since 1992.

A world champion in 1995 with the best Olympic result of sixth at Athens in 2004, Rodrigues has won 22 regattas around the world and is primarily using the ISAF world sailing championships off Fremantle to qualify for his sixth Games in London next year.

But for all his prowess on the Olympic class RS:X, Rodrigues has become even more famous for a windsurfing feat that nobody else has accomplished and is recognised in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest non-stop ocean crossing.

In the middle of the northern hemisphere summer this year, he sailed from his home island of Madeira across the open north Atlantic Ocean to the island of Selvagem Grande.

He made the 160nm crossing, that’s a few clicks over 300km, not only to celebrate his 40th birthday last month but to also recognise the same anniversary of Parque Natural da Madeira, Portugal’s oldest national park.

The park admininisters the uninhabited, except for wardens, Selvagem Grande, the smaller Selvagem Pequena and the tiny Ilhéu de Fora. Selvagem translates as “wild” and the islands are gem of biodiversity, mentioned more times in Charles Darwin’s On The Origin of Species then the Galapagos Islands, according to Rodrigues.
I wanted to call world-wide attention to these small islands,” Rodrigues says of a trip that was three months in the planning after he was approached by the Portuguese authorities to celebrate the park’s birthday.

It wasn’t easy. After more than 10 hours on just the one tack, his arms and legs ached and his back was completely destroyed for some months.

After 2½ hours I wanted to quit but we took it mile by mile, step by step,” he says of the marathon sail.

Born on Madeira, which has a population of around 250,000 people, he was a natural sailor from the age of nine.

When you’re surrounded by water, it is obvious to sail,” he says. His father imported the first sailboards and he was hooked from the beginning as the family raced around the islands.

It’s been a passion since the first day. When I first started gliding I thought ‘oh my God, this is it’,” says the man who also has a mechanical engineering degree from the 80-year-old Technical University of Lisbon.

It’s the only sport where I could find the obstacles and get over them. In all the other sports I tried, I couldn’t go any further.”

So how much further can Rodrigues go in a body which is starting to age?

At my first Olympics in 1992 I just wanted to get it over. I’ve been to four more since,” he laughs. “I’d love to win a medal in Fremantle but the first aim is to qualify for the Olympics. This is my life and as long as I can keep the pace I will keep going.

Rory Ramsden, for one, has no doubts he will be in London next year and says: “When the chips are counted, Joao is usually there.

RS:X Worlds: Shifting Winds and Shifting Fortunes

Today did not look promising. Not promising at all. Bright sunshine maybe but the wind was absent. The AP duly went up at 1200hrs and the guys were held on the beach for 30 minutes. Then the fun and games began

The yellow group went out for the first start of the day. One general recall, they got into race 5. The wind was still not co-operating. Up and down. Left and right. Until after 37 minutes with what were once the fleet leaders buried in the pack, the win gods threw  a curve ball and shifted 100 degrees plus.

The Race Committee had no choice. The ISAF Race Management Guidelines state clearly that the PRO can shorten or lengthen a leg but he cannot shorten a course. All that effort had to be consigned to the dustbin. The Race was abandoned.The fleet was sent ashore to recover their sense of humour and take a break

The blue fleet had more luck. Their only race of the day went off without a hitch. Dorian van Rijsselberghe [NED] recovered his equilibrium and took the gun. Piotr Myszka [POL] kept the pressure up by posting a 2nd whilst his compatriot, Przemyslaw Miarcyzinski  bombed to 12th. Shahar Zubari [ISR] finally made an appearance in the top 3. And,  Zac Plavsic [CAN] put in this worst race of the championship so far to drop out of the top 10.

The one young gun still confounding the sceptics is Eliot Carney who is rattling off mid top 10 finishes as if he had been at this game at this level for years… which he hasn’t. Good on ya Carnage 🙂

Now back to the Yellow fleet, who were finally recalled to the starting zone at going on 1600hrs. Nimrod Mashiah [ISR] was one athlete who was heaving a sigh of relief when the first race of the day was blown off. He was deep in the pack and dreading every moment of it. In the re-run, he finished 4th but now shares top spot overall with Dorian with a massive 6 points off 5 races.

No-one in front of him could do any damage to the top group but Tom Ashley [NZL] put in a stinker – 12th – and dropped to 5th, the place previously occupied by Toni Wilhelm [GER] who has now descended to 7th after posting a 19th.

There are now 6 points covering places 5 to 11 with a queue of people waiting to take the Otis in to the top 10 if any one puts a foot wrong again. 8 of them are carrying a discard they would rather forget leaving Nimrod Mashiah [ISR] and Piotr Myszka [POL] in s strong position going into the gold fleet racing starting tomorrow.

That covers the drama at the business end of the fleet, so lets look at who made the cut and who has been consigned to the silver fleet

Santiago Grillo [COL] is the last man in with David Mier y Teran just one point ahead. These two will be fighting tooth and nail for the last Olympic qualification place. There are 30 countries in the gold fleet including Great Britain who have a place at the Games by right as the host country.

28 nations will qualify here in Perth at the ISAF Sailing World Championships so although these guys are a long way off the medal places competition will be intense right through to the last man standing.

The 17 nations left in the silver fleet will get their chance to qualify at the 2012 RS:X World Windsurfing Championships in Cadiz, Spain in March where the winners will get to share a US $45,000 prize pot.

RS:X Worlds: Snakes And Ladders on The Centre Course

Overnight 36mm of rain had deluged Perth in just 30 minutes but the low pressure was still hanging around this morning. We woke to total cloud cover and the same wind direction that had delivered solid gold racing on day 1.

Now, the men racing in the RS:X World Windsurfing Championships were scheduled to race on the centre course starting at 1230hrs. The Blue fleet went out first with the start boat close up against the northern breakwater.

Dorian van Rijsselberghe [NED] strode into the lead which had extended to 2 minutes on his second visit to the top mark. The race win was in the bag. He just had to complete the course to post his first bullet of the day. Unfortunately he had not paid enough attention to the course signals on the stern of the start boat… He presented himself at the finish line one lap early and then had to play a desperate game of catch up finally finishing 16th

He made up for it in the second by firing in a bullet but the beneficiary of his dumb mistake in the first was Zac Plavsic who made history and climbed a personal Everest too by pouncing on Dorian’s mistake and taking the gun. A Canadian athlete has never before won a race at an Olympic class windsurfing world championships.

Asked what he thought of the centre course today Zac said “It’s like playing snakes and ladders. In that board game finding a ladder can move you right up. The reverse is true of the snakes. I just managed to find more ladders than snakes today

Well done Zac for proving the sceptics wrong for the second day. The other guy who is has had the best 2 days sailing in his life is Eliot Carney. He popped in a 3 and a 6 today and now is 6th overall.

On coming ashore he said “I’m tired but really happy… Just trying to keep a lid on my emotions… These have been the best 2 days racing I have ever had” He’s come good just as Nick Dempsey has gone off the boil. He is loathing the conditions in Perth. The weed in the water being a big bug bear. Not to mention the empty spectator stands and the compromises that he is being forced to make to the altar of media friendliness when the official coverage seems almost bereft of windsurfing action.

Equal second are the Polish pair, Piotr Myszka and Przemislaw Miarczynski. This ding dong battle is not going to stop any time soon. Unlike what was billed to be a needle match between the 2008 Olympic bronze medallist, Shahar Zubari and his team mate from Israel, Nimrod Mashiah.

This one finished before it began. Nimrod sits on top of the leaderboard with a mere six points whilst Shahar is buried in 19th place with forty three. He is spoiled for choice when it comes to deciding which race to discard but he favours the 16th place that he scored in race 2 at the moment.

Tom Ashley [NZL] is putting a nice series together. Placing 2nd and 3rd today, he’s back to his imperious self in 4th place overall while JP is paying the price for the wound in his left foot. The one inflicted by that mean little fish the Cobbler. He just could not apply the necessary pressure to do better than a 6th and a 10th today

We’re moving to the business end of the qualification round tomorrow with the points close enough to put 7 sailors in with a chance of making the cut. As for the number of countries going to qualify, on our current calculations the silver fleet will be fighting over the 3 remaining places not already taken by those in the gold fleet.