Cascais Photo Galleries
Event: Men's Windsurfer
Equipment: Neil Pryde RS:X
Fleet size: 115
Olympic qualification places: 25
Reigning World Champion: Casper BOUMAN (NED)
Reigning Olympic Champion (on Mistral board): Gal FRIDMAN (ISR)
Event: Women's Windsurfer
Equipment: Neil Pryde RS:X
Fleet size: 78
Olympic qualification places: 20
Reigning World Champion: Alessandra SENSINI (ITA)
Reigning Olympic Champion (on Mistral board): Faustine MERRET (FRA)
RS:X Runners and Riders
Click here to view the nations which have qualified for the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition
Poland And Brazil Become Champions
By Hugh Sims Williams
Today's Medal Races have raised the entertainment value credited previously to the sport of windsurf racing. Zofia KLEPACKA (POL) has just won the World Championships by a significant margin. She has half of the points of Barbara KENDALL (NZL) who finished overall in second. After rounding the windward mark in seventh, KLEPACKA went on to win the race, while KENDALL, who was leading the race and set to take the World title slipped back into eighth. Jessica CRISP (AUS) managed to finish second after using waves from a passing cruiser to her advantage.
The men's race today was closer than predicted. With place changes in the final 5 metres of the slalom finish. Ivan PASTOR (ESP) took a convincing early lead, while Przemyslaw MIARCZYNSKI (POL) looked to cover Nick DEMPSEY (GBR), his closest threat. DEMPSEY managed to pass MIARCZYNSKI, but the favour was returned just before the finish line in a decisive last minute explosive bout of pumping by MIARCZYNSKI. He overtook Joao RODRIGUES (POR) and DEMPSEY, winning the silver medal. Ricardo SANTOS (BRA), wo had come second at two previous Worlds but never managed to clinch the title, commented that this was the most exciting Worlds he had ever done in his 12 years of World Championship windsurfing. He managed to fight off the demons of his Olympic fourth place to hold on to the lead by a small margin of two points.
Cascais has provided a spectacular venue for this enthralling World Championships, with great organization, challenging conditions, great athletes and the birth of two new World Champions.
The Battle Continues
By Hugh Sims Williams
Racing started a 16:00 today, with competitors returning to the beach as late as 21:00. This long and hard day may have not finalised the results but will certainly be instrumental in tomorrow's Medal Race finale.
The women's race course has proved to be the most consistent and today profited from 18 knots of wind. Surprisingly this allowed Zofia KLEPACKA (POL) to extend her lead over the fleet. Strong wind specialists Alessandra SENSINI (ITA) and Barbara KENDALL (NZL) failed to maximize on this, perhaps due to the rough water induced by wind against tide. This has allowed European Champion, Marina ALABAU (ESP) to move into bronze medal position ahead of Jessica CRISP (AUS) and SENSINI.
KLEPACKA finished today with two seconds, despite being OCS and rounding the ends in the first race. Her lead is now substantial, and allows her to play a more conservative approach to her Medal Race. Olga MASLIVETS (UKR) had an excellent day moving her into seventh, while Faustine MERRET (FRA), current Olympic Champion, was scored OCS in her second race of the regatta, ruining her chances of a good position.
Delays in the men's starting schedule meant the wind had eased by the first warning signal. After planning off the line, then men spent the day putting their daggerboards up and down. This favoured the Ricardo SANTOS (BRA), who excelled at making these adjustments to increase his speed. Although there were huge holes of wind on the course, SANTOS scored a bullet and a fifth giving him an eight point lead going into the Medal Race. His strongest contenders are Przemyslaw MIARCZYNSKI (POL) and Nick DEMPSEY (GBR) are both within ten points. Joao RODRIGUES (POR) had a bit of a nightmare day out on the course with 9,33 scores dropping him to fourth overall. The points in the Medal Race count for double so expect some nail biting racing tomorrow, just off the harbour entrance.
Races 6 and 7
By Hugh Sims Williams
Big changes to medal contenders in both men's and women's fleets:
Today proved to be a very important day, with some major changes to the top three. Ricardo SANTOS (BRA) has had his best day so far, taking first and second in the gold fleet. Another sailor who has been smiling a lot today is Nick DEMPSEY (GBR), who scored a third and fifth and has now moved into the bronze medal position. Current European Champion Pzemyslaw MIARCZYNSKI (POL) was unable to keep up his string of bullets and is now counting an 11th and a fourth - he has moved into silver medal position. His team mate, and yesterday's regatta leader, Piotr MYSZKA (POL) has gained more points today than in the past three days put together, explaining his fall to fifth. DEMPSEY and Joao RODRIGUES (POR) have managed to perform consistently in the top five in all of their races this week, putting them back into medal contention. RODRIGUES mentioned that his daggerboard had snapped when he was ten metres from the windward mark, he managed to make the final distance and then sailed downwind to finish in second. He has a replacement for tomorrow.
The women's racing has seen two of the more experienced racers, Barbara KENDALL (NZL) and Jessica CRISP (AUS) rise from sixth and seventh to silver and bronze positions respectively. This has been helped by two OCS from Alessandra SENSINI (ITA) and Faustine MERRET (FRA). The lighter winds allowed Jian YIN (CHN) to show her ability in the lighter conditions with a two wins this week in the only two light wind races to have taken place. She will be a force to be reckoned with in Beijing next month for the Olympic Test Event.
Zofia KLEPACKA (POL) is comfortably leading by 4 points; her worst race in this regatta being an eighth today. Race 7, the wind increased to 8-12 knots and KENDALL was the first to get her board on to the plane. This allowed KENDALL to gain a leg's lead over her closest rival. KENDALL enjoys these conditions and has certainly shown a true feel for the equipment.
The windsurfers excelling here are those that cope best with the winds sporadic blessings. This regatta seems to be more about who can do the best on their worst day than sheer speed or flare. However the winner of this championship's may well have to possess both skills.
Races 4 and 5
By Hugh Sims Williams
Conditions today: 8-20 knots
Racing continues to be held on the inner courses where shifty and unpredictable conditions prevail. Strong planning conditions combined with vast vacuum-like black holes provided a spectacular game of snakes and ladders. There is hope that the windsurfers will be moved onto the outer course, where the swell is larger and wind is cleaner, in the next few days.
The breeze has finally arrived and despite the lottery that shifty conditions provide, a speed advantage can definitely help make a great tactician. Casper BOUMAN (NED), 2006 World Champion, regularly found himself moving from first to sixth in the second race today, but used his speed to take the places back downwind to cross the line in second.
The Chinese team have taken a big drop in position in both the men's and women's fleets, their top competitors moving from eighth to 18th (men) and third to tenth (women). China does not need to qualify its athletes for the Olympics at this World Championships, being the host nation. Perhaps Chinese focus has remained strongly on the lighter winds expected for Beijing.
Richard STAUFFACHER (SUI) could be following in the footsteps of Roger FEDERER after what has been an exceptional year from the Swiss. He has moved from relative unknown to regular of the top ten, but will he be able to move up the leaderboard as the pressure rises?
Experience Pays Dividends
With four of the top six windsurfers aged over thirty, few can claim that experience counts for nothing. Both Barbara KENDALL (NZL) and current regatta leader Zofia KLEPACKA (POL) gained equal points today, but with a difference of 16 years between them, it is clear that experience is not the only factor. KLEPACKA recently finished fifth at the RS:X Europeans and is now leading the World Championships with a six- point advanatage over Lise VIDAL (FRA).
Qualification has ended. The top 38 windsurfers in the men's fleet will now battle against each other in the gold fleet to gain their places in the elusive Medal Race, which will be held on Thursday. Up until now there has been little racing between Przemyslaw MIARCZYNSKI (POL) and Ricardo SANTOS (BRA), who are leading the regatta, as they have been qualifying in different fleets. MIARCZYNSKI has four bullets and a 12th which he is using as his discard. However he will have to sail extremely well in the remaining days to avoid counting this 12th in the latter stages. The windsurfers in second to sixth place are discarding lower scores and so MIARCZYNSKI's position is a fragile one.
By Hugh Sims-Williams
Conditions: 4-14 knots
There was a lot of speculation that the wind would be strong for Saturday's racing. This was reinforced by reports that local sailors were rigging up 4m wave sails at Guincho, a beach very close to the racing venue. (RSX sailors use 8.5-9.5m sails)
The ISAF Sailing World Championships is a multi-class regatta, so the race course is shared with the 49er class. Due to delays in the 49er racing, the first RS:X race started at 19:30 and the last race began at 20:30. A tired and frustrated fleet returned to the shore after 22:00 as the sun set. Some competitors left their equipment where they landed while others de-rigged in the street lights.
Immediately off the beach, gusts hit the water at 20 knots, but dissipated to 6 knots near the start line. The wind continued to shift in a regular pattern, with wind speed varying from 6-14 knots during the racing. Only one race was held per fleet due to the fading light.
Poland's Piotr MYSZKA has shown huge consistency in these conditions and has taken the lead in the men's fleet, closely followed by Ricardo SANTOS (BRA). The reigning World Champion Casper BOUMAN (NED) has been scored DNF along with the German number one after sailing an extra lap in their race. An unsuccessful protest challenging how the number of laps was displayed on the committee boat resulted in no change to the results.
Local racer Joao RODRIGUES (POR) has continued to post consistent results keeping a medal within his grasp. The women raced after the men in the facing wind and light. Race wins were from light wind specialists Bryony SHAW (GBR) and Jian YIN (CHN). The shifty conditions mean that no one is safe from a disastrous result, and with the only discard coming into play after Sunday's races, the leader board is likely to change again. Sunday's racing will define the gold, silver and bronze fleets in this competitive World Championship.
A Blasting Rollercoaster Start
By Ben Barger
All 200 RS:X athletes waited eagerly for the wind to fill in, going past lunch time to finally drop the postponement at 14:45, but the delay just created more energy and expectation at this key World Championships. There are 25 country slots allocated here for the men and 20 for the women that will qualify individual countries for their right to compete in the 2008 Olympic Games. But there is more than just qualifying here, there are seven days of high-strung racing scheduled that will deliver two World Champions. The fleets have been divided into three men's fleet and two women's fleet that will then be sorted to gold, silver and bronze after six qualifying fleet races. But this event won't be easy for any racer with the constant offshore breeze flowing from the cliffs to create many surprises on the race course.
First off were the men's fleets on course 1. The winds filled in for the start of the men's race but they definitely had a mind of their own today. The wind was 5 to 15 knots in the first race and 5 to 20 knots in the second race, with huge oscillating shifts. The Polish teams were at it again, with Przemyslaw MIARCZYNSKI (POL) winning both races the yellow group. He mentioned he got really lucky today, but he is no stranger to winning with a recent string of victories this season, most recently the European Championships. But the wind shifts where tricky and the lead changed hands every leg of the race. Making even the most seasoned spectator biting their nails!
Richard STAUFFACHER (SUI) also had a fantastic day with his 1,2 finishes in the blue group, making the most of the right side in the first race for the win. In the red group Shahar ZUBARI (ISR) placed 1,3 to be in third place overall. But the regatta has just started and while some favourites sailed some 'shocker' races in the back of the fleet, there is still a drop to come after five races.
The women today were on course 2, which was further from shore, but they still had the same crazy Cascais breeze. In the first race many competitors couldn't even make the time limit, even a World Champion! But that didn't stop a tie for the lead with both Allesandra SENSINI (ITA) and Zofia KLEPACKA (POL) winning both races in their groups today. Not far off are Marina ALABAU (ESP) and Romy KINZL (GER) who show they can thread the needle thru the big shifts and velocity changes. But it was never a comfortable lead, and SENSINI said that she was fortunate to get to the right side of the pressure not to mention to cover the whole fleet. It was slightly lighter wind than on the men's course, which led many of them to keep their mast tracks forward and keep the pressure going thru the centreboard.
Today saw the lightest winds of this past week and tomorrow looks to be a bit stronger, but we'll have to wait and see. With both courses close to shore, and the nearby mountains and cliffs creating havoc with the breeze it'll be a test of consistency and tactics. Most of the racers said they needed eyes in the back of their heads to constantly monitor all the wind changes, as one puff on the wrong side meant seeing the spray of the rest of the fleet! Racing begins at 18:00 tomorrow and that means racing into the sunset! Stay tuned to rsxclass.com for all the latest Rs:X racing news, and cascaisworlds2007.com for all the rest.
Over 1,300 sailors from 76 nations are competing at the 2007 ISAF Sailing World Championships, from 28 June-13 July in Cascais, Portugal. 'The Wind Is Calling' is the official motto for the 2007 Worlds. The Championships are the principal qualification regatta for the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition, with 75% of all national places to be decided.
For all the news on the ISAF Sailing World Championships 2007 CLICK HERE.