Light shifting winds allowed just one shortened race to be held in both the Men and Women's Gold fleets today at the RS:X World Championship in Kerteminde, Denmark, the competition watched by HRH Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark.
Today's results finalised the top 10 for the Men and Women's medal races tomorrow and in the difficult conditions several sailors dropped out of the running. They included China's Chen Qiubin in the Women's fleet, and Greece's Byron Kokalanis
, Portugal's João Filipe Gaspar Rodrigues and Maxim Oberemko
from the Ukraine in the Men's. Similarly the leader for the last two days, Dorian Van Rijsselberge
plummeted to ninth overall and now stands no possibility of even getting on to the podium.
However top sailors also made it through. Winning today's race was German Toni Wilhelm
, who described the conditions: "It was really tough, because it was shifting like crazy and you really had to adapt to this, but I managed it well so I am happy. The start was not too bad, then I was taking each shift and I was reacting to everything - I think that was key."
Wilhelm says he has enjoyed the championship and the conditions in the Bay of Kerteminde, as it ressembles Kiel where he has regularly sailed. His World Championship result is crucial to his funding going forwards. He is just making his comeback to Olympic sailing after a shoulder injury and two broken ribs, sustained in separate incidents in 2007 forced him to put windsurfing to one side. A top 10 position will return him to the German Olympic sailing team, and ensure his funding.
But after today Polish sailors occupy the top two spots overall with Piotr Myszka
a point ahead of Przemyslaw Miarczynski
, effectively level, going into the double points scoring medal race. Miarczynski, known as Pont, was the 2003 windsurfing world champion and has represented Poland at the last three Olympic Games. Today he posted a third while Myszka was 23rd.
"It was quite hard because there was not much wind and with 56 guys on the start line it is quite difficult to go out with clear wind., but I made a few good tacks with the shifts going down the middle of the course, and I recovered,"
In the men the top five, although realistically just the top four, are capable of winning Gold and the top seven can claim bronze. In the women it is much closer: Leader Italian Alessandra Sensini
is nine points ahead, but any of the top six can prevent her from claiming her fourth windsurfing world championship title. But any within the entire top 10 could take the silver and bronze.
Among them is Skandia Team GBR's Bryony Shaw
. The Beijing bronze medallist is currently fifth, three points adrift of second and holds the smallest discard of all the women - a 12th. She did well today scoring a fourth, as did team mate Nick Dempsey
, who was second.
"It was good: my sort of conditions, so happy to mix it up a bit,"
says Shaw. "We haven't had a race that light this week so far. Some of the girls who aren't so good in that got some high scores which tightened it all up a bit. In the light it is really technical and when you are full time with what you do, you become more of an all rounder. That's when you see the rewards of all your hard training."
Shaw says she has enjoyed the Worlds this week, particularly the range of conditions. "It is a nice venue. It is all shifty, but that makes the racing more interesting. It is not the normal faces at the front of the fleet - it has given more people the opportunity to be up there."
Decidedly looking over her shoulder tomorrow will be Israel's Lee Korzits
who lies second on equal points with Spain's Blanca Manchon
. All the top three women discarded their results from today's race. In Korzits' case it was a 22nd after she managed to break the outhaul on her boom just after the start and had to stop and jump overboard to fix it.
Like Wilhelm, Korzits is only recently back into the Olympic windsurfer after injury. However hers was more serious, following a disaster riding a 4m wave in Maui during a sponsor photo shoot. "Someone came from behind and didn't see me because the wave was bigger than the sail and just crashed into my back full power."
She broke two ribs and her foot.
"For two years I was out of the sport but now I am back and I am really happy because I missed it so much,"
says the 2003 windsurfing world champion. In fact for Korzits it is something of a miracle. "I was very badly injured. The doctor told me I would never walk again, so for me to be here...I thank God every day."
As to competing in Denmark, Korzits says she likes it a lot. "It is a little bit too cold, but I like the mix of conditions, that everyone has a chance to show how good they are. Everything ashore is super cool, we have everything we need. The tent is great - it is perfect. I like it."
Today's light winds and shortened course was something HRH The Crown Prince Frederick was used to being a regular Farr 40 and Dragon helmsman. "It makes me enormously happy to see that even small clubs outside Aarhus and Copenhagen can rise to the task of laying on such a large international regatta,"
he said as crowds gathered around him after this afternoon's prize giving.
Tomorrow at 1100 local time the medal races begin with the Men's competition, followed immediately by the women.
For more information visit the event website