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4 October 2005, 03:10 pm
Looking Back At Cadiz
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RS:X Cadiz Race 2005
Cadiz, Spain

With over 100 boards and entrants coming from 23 nations the first RS:X event in Europe provided a wide-ranging view at the future of the new Olympic windsurfing equipment. France sent a massive contingent of over 20 sailors to the event and were rewarded with the top honours in both the women's and men's fleets thanks to Olympic gold medallist Faustine MERRET and Mistral World Champion Nicolas HUGUET.
Over the two days of racing, a total of 14 races were completed, four in the women's fleet and five each in the two men's fleet. On both days the start of racing began with around ten knots of wind before the breeze gradually died in the afternoon. Many Formula sailors had been attracted to the event keen to test the new hybrid board. For Denmark, the new interest in the RS:X has had a major impact as National coach Jacob HOLST explained, 'We haven't done anything in Olympic windsurfing for ten years at least, so this is all new, we're starting up again and focussing on windsurfing in an Olympic campaign.'

In the weekend's conditions however the advantage lay with the Olympic campaigners, with more experience sailing in the lighter winds. Olympic Champion MERRET took the honours in the women's fleet, finding greater consistency than the rest of the fleet to score a five point victory over Blanca MANCHON (ESP) and Bryony SHAW (GBR).

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Nicolas HUGUET walked away
with the honours in the men's
Whilst Faustine MERRET
took the top spot in the
women's competition
In the men's fleet, Nicolas HUGUET (FRA) took an early lead with two bullets on the first day and then held off a strong challenge by double ISAF Youth Worlds winner Joeri VAN DIJK (NED) to take overall victory by a single point with fellow Frenchman Nicolas LE GAL in third.

At this early stage in the new board's life, Cadiz was not just about the winning, but the learning. For the French team it appeared that time spent on the board had paid off, with six of their sailors gaining top ten places across the two leaderboards. The majority of the French success came in the men's fleet, with the women's top ten having a particularly international look to it. Only France placed two sailors in the top ten which featured an incredible combined honours lists including the Olympic gold medal, the Mistral World Champion, the 2003 ISAF World Sailing Champion, the leader and four other of the top ten of the Women's Windsurfer ISAF World Sailing Rankings and eleven of the twelve medals from the last four Windsurfer Girls events at the ISAF Youth Worlds.

Youth was also a focus for Esperanza PÉREZ CRESPO (ESP) a member of the ISAF Youth World Championship Sub-Committee, in Cadiz to carry out trials on the smaller rigs. On Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning she carried out trials to look at the suitability of the 8.5 and 7.5 rigs for the ISAF Youth Worlds.

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Testing the youth rigs on
Sunday morning
As well as the stars racing in Cadiz, the massive gathering of windsurfers and coaches also provided the perfect opportunity for all those involved with the RS:X to discuss the development of the new class. From the administration, led by former Chair of the ISAF Windsurfing Committee Rich JEFFRIES, to the coaches, ISAF Vice-President Fiona BARRON (GBR), the officials and of course the sailors, communication was the order of the day. On Friday, RS:X International Manager Ailsa ANGUS, International Judge and member of the ISAF Windsurfing Committee Aaron BOTZER (ISR) and men's representative on the RS:X Management team and two-time Olympic medallist Mike GEBHARDT (USA), joined JEFFRIES and BARRON to form a panel which hosted two feeback sessions, one with the coaches and the other with the sailors.

JEFFRIES explained that the massive turnout in Cadiz made it an ideal time to get together with the windsurfers, 'With over 120 sailors here at this event, to give them the opportunity to say to us as a class, okay - this is how we are moving forward, this is what we're doing, here are the people, let me introduce you to the people that are your representatives on the class administration. Work with us, talk to us, we're open to you, we're not hiding, we're not saying we won't talk to you, we're stepping up and introducing ourselves to you and saying we're here for you.'

GEBHARDT was a familiar face around Cadiz, taking part in the sessions, out on the water watching the races and also conducting a clinic on Saturday morning to give advice on setting up the rig to the competitors. The double Olympic medallist has taken a key role in the development of the board and believes it will reward sailors who take the time to really get to know the board and the affect different tunings will have on, 'The downhaul and outhaul settings are very critical for this board - you can´t just jump on it and sail it,' he said after the conclusion of racing on Sunday, 'This board very specifically needs the right amount of power and you can´t go over and you can´t go under, that was the biggest thing I noticed.'

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After Cadiz many of the the
RS:X sailors are competing
in the Raceboard Worlds
ISAF would like to thank the Federación Anduluza de Vela, the Real Federación Española Anduluza de Vela, the Race Committee and member of the ISAF Windsurfing Committtee Deborah POWELL for their dedication in organizing and hosting the event.

Many of the competitors in Cadiz are set to begin racing again with the RS:X as the opening exchanges in the Raceboard World Championship get underway today, whilst the RS:X becomes part of the ISAF Graded event circuit from 1 January 2006.

For all the news from Cadiz CLICK HERE.

ISAF. Image, The European life of the RS:X got off to a flying start in Cadiz:© ISAF
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