The Medal Races wrapped up the action at the RS:X European Championships in Sopot, Poland today with Shahar Zubari (ISR) and Marina Alabau (ESP) both retaining their titles.
First out onto the windward Leeward course was the mens fleet. After an excellent series, the defending champion Shahar Zubari
(ISR) just had to sail conservatively and not finish at the back of the fleet to take the title.
The battle for silver and bronze positions was between Byron Kokalanis
(GRE), Ivan Pastor Lafuente
(ESP). This two way fight was destined to go to the line. Right out of the starting gate Byron was hunting Ivan, they rounded the top mark for the first time in first and second place respectively.
It was not long before Ivan made his move. He passed Kokalanis momentarily but Kokalanis responded immediately, gybing into the lead and below Pastor. He set himself up between Ivan and the right hand gate mark. The last gybe forced Ivan onto the left hand side of the course on the next upwind leg.
Kokalanis made his mark rounding and immediately tacked to cover Pastor following him over to the left hand side. Ivan tacked first. When they crossed it was Kokalanis who was still in the lead. He tacked immediately serving Pastor a generous helping of dirty wind.
Pastor was forced even further left to clear his air. For Kokalanis it was a 'done deal' he continued to the middle of the course to ensure that there were no surprises at the windward mark. There was Piotr Myszka
(POL) to consider. He too was a threat but he was in fourth and could do no damage if that was where he stayed.
Kokalanis rounded the first mark in the lead but not quite home and dry. He working his sail all the way down the last run in the 7-8 knot breeze to win the silver medal by one point from Myszka who came through to beat Pastor into fourth. Kokalanikis has won two ISAF Sailing World Cup regattas already this season and will be one to watch for the future.
Marina Alabau (ESP) Defends Challenge from Italians
With just the Medal Race left to sail, Laura Linares (ITA) was locked on equal points with defending and current World Champion Marina Alabau (ESP). Windsurfing legend Alessandra Sensini (ITA) was snapping at their heels eight points further back with Zofia Noceti-klepacka (POL) also in contention for the bronze medal.
Round the top mark for the first time and it was Bialecka Malgorzata(POL), sailing in her first senior Medal Race, who rounded first; Zofia was in second; and Moana Delle (GER) in third. A frantic search for the leading trio found them deep in the pack. Alabau was sixth; Sensini seventh and Linares was back in eighth.
Linares had some serious work to be done if she was going to take gold. As it turned out despite Linares trying everything she knew, the task was just too big. Alabau did the job she had set out to do which was to cover the Italian pair and make certain of victory. No matter what the finishing order, the players in this game were here.
Noceti-Klepacka meanwhile was free and clear. She raced to third place in the Medal Race and third overall pushing Sensini back to fourth. Congratulations are also due to Noceti-Klepacka who gave birth to a baby boy just four months ago and is working hard to get back to her peak fitness. Wtih the worlds just six weeks away she has some time and will not doubt be a force to be reckoned with there.
The RS:X Worlds kicks off in Kerteminde, Denmark on 26 August.
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