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2019 RS:X World Championships - Documentary

by RS:X Class 26 Nov 2019 06:47 PST
2019 RS:X World Championships in Torbole, Italy - Day 5 © Robert Hajduk / RS:X Class

The end of the 2019 RS:X World Championships being held in Torbole, Italy, looked to be heading out with a damp fizzle, but ended with a perfect finale for the medal races as the Ora finally decided to show up just before the time limit for the day.

With a full schedule planned for the morning, the 236 competitors and the race officials and volunteers turned up at the Circolo Surf Torbole in the dawn light as has been the norm this week. However the only difference this morning was that the normal northerly breeze had disappeared - Lake Garda was breathless in both its beauty as the sun rose but also in the amount of wind.

For the medal race contenders, their was mixed emotions amongst the ten men and ten women. Race and have a chance of getting a medal or upgrading the medal. Don't race and get to protect the medal that was already halfway around their necks. Would the wind fill in before the 1600 CET deadline?

It did. Slowly at first. But it built gradually and by 1500 CET, the women's fleet were on the medal race course ready to race in a light 8-10 knot breeze. China's Yunxiu Lu was relatively comfortable with her lead with the real battle between silver and bronze, between Lilian de Geus and Katy Spychakov. Just two points or one board separated reigning World and European champion de Geus and the relative new-comer Spychakov.

Russian Stefania Elfutina won the race and was followed by Poland's Zofia Noceti-Klepacka in second and then Spychakov in third. Down the last reach to the finish line, Spychakov could be seen looking over her shoulder, trying to figure out where de Geus was. Fourth place crossed. Fifth place crossed with Lu. And then de Geus crossed in sixth place. Spychakov had done enough to elevate herself to silver and resign de Geus to bronze. Lu had done enough to keep her first place and is the 2019 RS:X World Champion.

With Hong Kong, Brazil, Peru, Finland, Mexico, Hungary and Turkey already having qualified this week, it was in the silver fleet for the women that the final two spots would be allocated. Without any races, it was the United States and Thailand who were worthy recipients of the final two spots for Tokyo 2020.

For the men's medal race, the wind had increased slightly and again the battle would be to see whether reigning World champion (and double Olympic champion) could get the better of Frenchman Pierre le Coq and carry on the tradition of standing on the top two steps of the podium at major RS:X Class championships. The battle for silver and bronze was on!

The gold fleet of the RS:X had more countries than qualification spots and the fight for the eight spots had been going on over the past two days of finals racing. With yesterday's cancellation of racing, the final standings showed that the following countries had provisionally booked their tickets to Tokyo; Korea, Hong Kong, Belarus, Switzerland, Lithuania, United States, Cyprus and Czech Republic.

These World Championships were the final major event of the RS:X Class for 2019 with attention firmly now focused on Tokyo 2020 and all of the remaining qualification events where countries can get their tickets to Tokyo. The 2020 World Championships are in New Zealand in February, one of the last true barometers of performance for the sailors before heading to Japan.

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