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iQFoil European Championships: Luuc Van Opzeeland & Emma Wilson lead after Day 4

by Elena Giolai 20 May 16:45 PDT

Day 3

  • Final series: two course races and the marathon were held on Thursday, with Garda Trentino in its best conditions of sunshine and 18-knot winds
  • Spectacle with the start of the marathon race won by the Dutchman Van Opeeland, in the lead followed by the Italian and home idol, as well as Circolo Surf Torbole athlete, Nicolò Renna
  • Women: battle between Wilson and Noesmoen

At the iQFoil Class European Championship being held at the Circolo Surf Torbole, on Garda Trentino, we have entered the heart of the event, that is with the best of the men's and women's fleets who from Thursday began the "final series", which will decide the top ten of the "Medal Series", super-finalists scheduled for Sunday 22 May. From today, the best athletes will no longer be in different batteries, but head-to-head, for an exciting confrontation between flights, controls, and breathtaking starts.

The "final series" began with a beautiful sunny day and wind that had returned to the normal range of the Upper Lake Garda, around 17-18 knots, and therefore more than enough to hold "course" races: as scheduled, two races were held, followed after a break ashore, by the marathon, about 10 miles in the northernmost part of the lake, within the Trentino border, where the wind channels itself from the south and accelerates its intensity. A marathon that has in the 'rabbit start', the most spectacular moment of the entire Championship, just like in the historic regatta organised at the Circolo Surf Torbole One Hour Classic (scheduled this year from 24 to 26 June), in which all the participants parade at the stern of the 'starting dinghy', which crosses the imaginary start line at full throttle, across the wind.

Men's category

Dutchman Luuc Van Opzeeland holds the lead: after a 2-46 in the morning's course races, he won the marathon race, which in terms of scoring is worth a lot, because it is counted as two races. But the good news is that Circolo Surf Torbole's first year in the senior category, Nicolò Renna, moved up to second place thanks to an excellent fourth in the marathon race, a fifth in the first course race followed by an average score in the second course race of the day, as he was damaged at the start. Third overall was Frenchman Goyard, not brilliant in the course races (14-17), but recovering in the marathon race, seventh. More distant, in fourth place with 12 points from Goyard the British Samuel SIlls.

In great recovery the Italians Luca Di Tomassi and Daniele Benedetti, respectively jumped to seventh and fourteenth position: Di Tomassi after a seventh and twenty-sixth, in the marathon race recovered valuable points and positions thanks to a sixth (which counts as two races). In the coming days he will have to defend his position to stay in the medal series. The other Italian Daniele Benedetti also did well (9-22 in the two course races), tenth in the marathon.

Women

There was a great duel between the top two in the provisional ranking: only four points divided Olympic bronze medallist Emma Wilson (GBR) and Frenchwoman Hèléne Noesmoen: the britain achieved a first and a third place in the course races compared to the Frenchwoman's second and first, while in the marathon they came fourth and ninth respectively. The marathon race was won by Israel's Shahar Tibi, ahead of Spain's Nicole Van der Velden (fourth overall) and Mexico's Mariana Aguilar Chavez Peon. Third overall is Poland's Maja Dziarnowska.

The Italians: Marta Maggetti back in the race, as her calibre dictates; for her a fine recovery, which has earned her over 10 positions. She is currently eleventh and in a position with the next regattas to enter the medal series. Today she got off to a good start with a ninth and a second, followed by an excellent sixth in the marathon race.

The new Olympic class for Paris 2024 has the merit of having finally managed to bring in athletes from not only the old RS:X Olympic class, but also those competing in the PWA World Cup or foil racing. Teams who are proud to wear the national uniform, athletes who previously competed with the previous Olympic board have had to start almost from scratch, putting on weight to adapt to the completely different standards required to be competitive, young hopefuls who have finally found a class in step with the times, old glories who, with experience, have taken little time to be competitive even with the iQFoil. The monotype then always has its charm: the same boards and sails in the water, the same colours, but who is on top makes the real difference. The format also allows those who start below their capabilities to catch up, as for example with the marathon, which counts as two races and offers a spectacular fleet start at the same time.

Day 4

Another wonderful day on Garda Trentino for the decisive days of the European Championships of the new iQFoil Olympic class, organised by Circolo Surf Torbole in collaboration with the iQFoil International class and the Italian Sailing Federation, and scheduled until Sunday. Still warm, sunny weather and a southerly wind of 12-18 knots allowed the Race Committee to schedule four more course races on the second day of the "final series" with the fleets divided into gold and silver.

Men's category

With just one day to go before the last races that will decide the top ten who will go through to Sunday's final series, important scores and gaps are beginning to emerge among the leaders in the general classification, as in the men's category, with the inexorable race of the Dutchman Luuc Van Opzeeland, who today again posted top results (two firsts and two thirds), stretching his lead over his rivals. They are in fact 24 points ahead of the nevertheless very good Nicolò Renna (under 21 last season), still second despite some ups and downs: having started with a sixth on the day, he scored a fourteenth, a splendid first overall and a twenty-ninth (discarded). He remains ahead of Frenchman Goyard, who did not maintain the necessary regularity to try and attack local and Circolo Surf Torbole holder Nicolò Renna: after a second he was forced to retire in the second race of the day, recovering with a sixth, but suffering a disqualification for an early start in the fourth and final race. The points that divide the Italian from the French Olympic silver medallist are just under 12, while the fourth, Britain's Sills is 13 points behind the third. First under 21 is the Dutchman Max Castelein, a confirmation that the Dutch tradition in windsurfing, marked in the very first Olympics by Los Angeles gold medallist Stephan Van den Berg and taken up again by two-time Olympic gold medallist (London and Rio) Dorian Van Rijsselberghe, current president of the iQFoil class, as well as Tokyo gold medallist Kiran Badloe, is definitely continuing!

Women's Category

The women's race course, located further north than the men's, had a lighter wind of 12 knots. Also among the women, the overall leader seems to have literally taken off: Britain's Emma Wilson leads by 20 points over defending French champion Hélène Noesmoen, who is tied with Poland's Maja Dziarnowska. Wilson, who was involved in the RS:X for Tokyo where she won the bronze medal, seems to have got the right feeling for the iQFoil right away: in today's four course races she scored a 3-1-2, with an early start discarded in the last race, while Frenchwoman Noesmoen was less regular with 24-2-DNF-11. On a positive day was Poland's Dziarnowska, who after a thirteenth place kept herself in the top five with a 4-1-4. Israel's Peleg, fifth overall, was first in the under-21 category.

Still a good day for the Italian Marta Maggetti, who is tenth, but still too seesaw to attack the top positions: after an eighteenth, she managed to return to the top positions with a good second and third, but in the fourth race of the day (eighth course race of the event) she placed twenty-first. The signs, however, remain excellent, as Marta is recovering day by day positions in the overall ranking, with a real possibility of entering the medal series scheduled for Sunday.

On Saturday there will be another final series with four races scheduled, either slalom or course race, depending on the wind strength: from the overall ranking, the top 10 will enter the medal series.

Full results here...

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