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30 September 2005, 06:47 pm
Counting Down To The Start
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RS:X Cadiz Race 2005
Cadiz, Spain

Saturday afternoon will see the 120+ windsurfers in Spain fully launch into racing mode at the biggest RS:X regatta to date, with the competitors looking to make an early impact in the new Olympic Windsurfing equipment. A huge fleet packed full of stars from previous Olympic campaigns, also sees a new contingent of sailors coming to one-design racing, making the two day regatta in Cadiz a fascinating first glimpse at the new windsurfing order.
Many of the sailors have now been in Cadiz for several days allowing them time on the board out on the water. 15-20 knot breezes on Tuesday and Wednesday have given way to two day's of light winds, with the forecast predicting that the breeze will pick up again for the start of racing tomorrow. According to Turkey's Boran KOZANOGLU this variety will add further spice to the competition, 'the conditions are really changing here, it's going to be really tactical because everyday, each three hours the wind's changing direction. Each race is going to be different from the other one so it's going to be good I think.'

The massive number of competitors is in part a result of the influx of sailors coming from the former Olympic class like gold medallist, Faustine MERRET (FRA) and Mistral World Champions Nicolas HUGUET (FRA) and Blanca MANCHON (ESP). Then the hybrid nature of the board has attracted competitors from the Formula circuit. The Danish team has three windsurfers here, which as National coach Jacob HOLST explains, is a major new step for the nation, 'We haven't done anything in Olympic raceboards for ten years at least, so this is all new, we're starting up again and focussing on windsurfing in an Olympic campaign.'

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Preparing for the start on the marina
© ISAF
One of the three Danish sailors competing is Kasper JYYL LARSEN, who has come to the RS:X from the Formula boards. He talked about the challenges the new Olympic board presents to those making the switch, 'In the planing conditions it's quite easy, there's a bit of adjustment to do but it seems to be alright… the big challenge for us Formula guys is obviously in the really light wind where you're using the daggerboard mount, so that's going to be a challenge there, getting the right technique for it.' With variable conditions expected across the two days, it will be interesting to note who is strongest in which races, and who has best managed to get to grips with the all-round nature of the board.

The large fleet in Cadiz, is a true reflection of the global nature of windsurfing today, with a lot of success in recent years for sailors from Asia, including a silver medal for China in the last Olympic Games, and of course, Gal FRIDMAN winning Israel's first ever gold medal in Athens. The RS:X can extend the global spread even further, as witnessed by the US Virgin Islands' Michael COMPTON, who is another of the competitors in Cadiz attracted by the potential of the new board, 'I've done course slalom and regular slalom and I've done some Formula board, although I haven't really raced a Formula that much, but I'm very excited to get on this board because it's a little bit of slalom and Formula and the course board like the One-Design Mistral so I'm excited about it.'

Three races are planned for both Saturday and Sunday, with the men split into two fleets for the first five races, before a gold and silver fleet is worked out before the start of the final race six. Meanwhile the women will race as one fleet. The first warning signal is scheduled for 1300 hours local time on both racing days with the race time limit set at 45 minutes with a target time of 20-30 minutes. The racing will take place just off the lighthouse at the marina in Puerto de Santa Marina, affording the spectators a close up view of the action, with the sailors set to race on one of four courses, the M, I, O or W.

As well as the tension and excitement which is building about the on the water action, plenty has been going on behind the scenes in Cadiz. ISAF Vice-President Fiona BARRON (GBR) has joined the officials, coaches and competitors gathered in Cadiz. Along members of the RS:X Management team led by director Rich JEFFRIES (USA), she represented ISAF in question and answer sessions with both the coaches and sailors focussing on the future of the RS:X class association. As she explained, keeping open clear lines of communication is a vital part of her visit, 'My role is to go out and talk to the sailors, talk to the manufacturers, and just make sure any small problems are easily resolved, and make sure that this is a very successful launch for the RS:X.'

www.sailing.org will bring you all the latest from Cadiz as the racing gets underway, as well as more on the coach and sailor meetings, the relaunch of the Neil Pryde RS:X website and the visit to Cadiz of Neil PRYDE himself.

ISAF. Image, Members of the French team head out to get in some practice before the start on Saturday:© ISAF
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