Category Archives: Olympics

2014 RS:X Youth Worlds in Clearwater: All To Play For!

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Women Fleet in Action in the Building Breeze (credit: Jay Ailworth)

Day 4 at the 2014 RS:X Youth Worlds in Clearwater, Florida, and the sound of the day was that of racers whooping and hollering past the race committee boats  (two imposing 44-ft power catamarans provided by event sponsor MarineMax) in a breeze that high-wind specialists had been waiting for all week.

After a first race in oscillating 8-12 kt side-off conditions, the wind filled in from the north: a solid cross-shore 12-15 kt breeze greeted the competitors for the second race of the day, before kicking up one more notch to a solid 16-18 kt for the third race. The action was once again set up close enough to shore for spectators to enjoy the show from the beach and Pier 60: gutsy starts, fast racing, spectacular wipe-outs, we had it all on Day 4!

Men's Leader Mattia Camboni (ITA)

Men’s Leader Mattia Camboni (ITA) enjoyed the conditions

Defending champion Mattia Camboni (ITA) and Radoslaw Furmanski (POL) traded race wins today and separated themselves from the rest of the men’s fleet. “It was great today,” said Camboni, “Radoslaw won the first two races and I won the last one, and at the end of the day I’m one point ahead in the overall. It’s going to be all to play for in the medal race!”

Indeed, nobody else is within striking distance of those two at this point in the championships, and you can count on some serious match racing in the medal race tomorrow. Toni Bonet from Spain doesn’t quite have bronze sewed up yet, and will have to look over his shoulder as Frenchman Oel Pouliquen still has a chance to climb on the podium if he wins the medal race.

Things are even tighter in the women’s fleet: while the race wins today went to Hadar Heller (ISR), Imogen Sills (GBR) and Shahar Tibi (ISR), young Emma Wilson from Great Britain impressed with steady racing in the building breeze and now stands on top of the podium entering the medal race. Her lead is razor thin though, and she’s going to have to fight for it on Saturday: Marta Maggetti (ITA), Ma Kwan Ching  (HKG) and Berenice Mege (FRA) are all within 4 points!

Gutsy Start from Mateo Salles (MEX)

Gutsy Start from Mateo Salles (MEX) – credit: Jay Ailworth 

 

The rest of the fleets will enjoy a final race tomorrow morning, come back ashore and line up on the pier to cheer on their friends in what promises to be an exciting medal race for both men and women!

The Organizing Authority continued to treat competitors to first-class dinner, this time at the Clearwater Community Sailing Center (courtesy of event sponsor Bright House Networks), before everyone rushed back to Pier 60 for a fireworks show (sponsored by Pier 60 Concessions).

The stage is set!

 

2014 RS:X Youth Worlds in Clearwater: Shake-Up at the Top on Day 3!

RS:X Racing on a public beach at the 2014 Youth Worlds in Clearwater

RS:X Racing on a public beach at the 2014 Youth Worlds in Clearwater

Shake up at the top on Day 3 of the 2014 RS:X Youth Worlds in Clearwater, Florida! Fully recharged thanks to the lay day yesterday, all competitors were eager to enter the final stretch of the competition in Clearwater, and the planing conditions in the forecast certainly contributed to the excitement on the beach. With cooler temperatures this morning came a 10-14 kt side-off breeze (don’t panic, cooler temperatures means 16C this time of year in Florida!) and the race committee wasted no time to set the course for the first race of the day. The windward mark for the inner loop of the course was set barely 200 yards from the tip of Pier 60, allowing spectators to enjoy the mark rounding action up close and personal.

View of the Baystar Racing Village from Pier 60

View of the Baystar Racing Village from Pier 60

It was Frenchman Clement Guevel who took charge in the first race of the day before letting a couple of competitors slip past him at the finish.  The French team found extra motivation today in the early departure of their teammate Clement ‘Boubou’ Bourgeois, who cut his foot during rest day yesterday and had to be flown back to France before the conclusion of the championships. That would be a big disappointment for any racer this week, but it was especially hard to take because Clement was standing in 3rd position this morning.

Unfortunate Early Departure for Clement 'Boubou' Bourgeois

Unfortunate Early Departure for Clement ‘Boubou’ Bourgeois

“Very good day for me today,” wrote French teammate Berenice Mege. “The wind was shifty and patchy and I was able to figure it out. The top step on the podium is really close. I want to climb up there for ‘Boubou.’ Her sentiment was echoed by her teammate Adrien Mestre, who joked that he wouldn’t make a push to the front out of respect for his wounded teammate, before promising that he would in fact fight ’til the very end in his honor. The race committee moved briskly to run two more races in very technical conditions. Those able to stay alert, read the current and find the patches of wind on the course were richly rewarded. Besides the early departure of Clement Bourgeois due to injury, there was another factor that contributed to the shake-up at the top of the men’s leaderboard: Radoslaw Furmanski (POL) and Mattia Camboni (ITA) were granted redress for an OCS earlier this week, along with four other competitors. Camboni moved straight to the top of the rankings as a result, while Furmanski stepped up to 3rd. Overnight leader Toni Bonet (ESP) lost the lead but is only 1 point behind Camboni tonight.

The Boys Fleet racing to the outer loop

The Boys Fleet racing to the outer loop

While Berenice Mege had the best combined score for the 3 races contested today in the women’s fleet, overnight leader Ma Kwan Ching (HKG) had very steady results and padded her lead a little over Marta Maggetti (ITA). With Mege, Wilson (GBR) and Czurylo (POL) all within a few points of the lead, it’s still all to play for.

Girls Fleet heading back down to leeward gate

Girls Fleet heading back down to leeward gate

Tonight’s dinner party was at Crabby Bill’s, a laid-back and colorful restaurant located directly across from the venue on Clearwater Beach. All competitors had a nice meal and headed in early: three more races are scheduled for tomorrow!

2014 RS:X Youth Worlds in Clearwater: Full Schedule after Day 2!

Clearwater 2014 - Start of Women Race 6

Clearwater 2014 – Lining up for Women Race #6, as viewed from Pier 60

After two days of intense racing at the 2014 RS:X Youth Worlds in Clearwater, both fleets have completed a full schedule of 6 light-wind races, and they’ve earned their lay day!

Very light and shifty winds were forecast for the day, and it was a nice surprise to see a 7 kt side-off breeze fill in early from the North. After a short postponement on shore to make sure the wind was steady, all racers were called to the water for what turned out to be three races in a row for both fleets, around the same tried-and-true trapezoid course used the day before.

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Riccardo Enrique Perez Gio (MEX), in 44th place after Day 2

“It was much steadier than yesterday,” said Ricardo Enrique Perez Gio from Mexico. “It was still very hard, but I enjoyed it more.”

The breeze eventually turned to side-on, but the race committee was on top of it and by 3pm, all racers were back to shore licking their wounds, counting their blessings, and looking forward to a great dinner party.

After the jitters of opening day and most likely a word or two from their coaches, racers were much more disciplined on the start line today, with no OCS in the three races of the day in either fleet. “I saw people being extra careful on the start line today,” observed Mateo Salles. “We all added five seconds to the countdown!”

Even with conservative starts, the leaders worked hard all the way around the course. “These guys are really good,” added Mateo’s teammate Federico Vega. “I’m learning a lot on every race.”

Toni Bonet - Men's Leader after Day 2

Toni Bonet – Men’s Leader after Day 2

With one discard in play already, Angel Granda Roque (ESP) and Mattia Camboni (ITA) made major gains in the men’s rankings: from 37th to 12th overall for Mattia and from 27th all the way to 5th for Angel. But Toni Bonet (ESP) has increased his lead with very steady racing and a bullet to end the day.

On the women’s side, French teammates Berenice Mege and Delphine Jariel showed their talent, with two bullets for Berenice vaulting her from 17th to 5th, and Delphine’s steady finishes allowing her to climb from 14th to 7th. Ma Kwan Ching (HKG) still leads the proceedings, but 2013 World Champion Marta Maggetti (ITA) has closed the gap, and Emma Wilson (GBR) is well positioned with the lowest discard among all the girls in the fleet.

The day ended in style, with trolleys picking up hungry sailors at the beach venue for a drive down the shoreline to local favorite restaurant Salt Rock Grill. A great opportunity for all to meet one of the Championships’ major sponsors, the Baystar Restaurant Group, and refuel after two long days on the water.

Race organizers are keeping an eye on a tropical depression brewing in the Bay of Campeche. Winds are expected to pick up when racing resumes on Thursday. But not before some much-needed R&R!

Dinner Party at Salt Rock Grill

Dinner Party at Local Favorite Restaurant ‘Salt Rock Grill’

 

2014 RS:X Youth Worlds in Clearwater: Hard Work on Day 1!

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Launching off the beach on Day 1 at the 2014 RS:X Youth Worlds in Clearwater, FL USA

The 2014 RS:X Youth Worlds kicked off today in Clearwater, USA, and it was hard work from the start: in 5-6 kt of breeze, offshore to start the day and side-on to close it, pumping was in order for the 54 boys and 28 girls gathered here for the 2014 RS:X Youth World Windsurfing Championships.

Races started on the dot at 11am in offshore conditions, with the knowledgeable race committee opting for a trapezoid course to keep the two fleets well clear of one another. After a long break ashore to recover from the morning workout, and to give the afternoon side-on breeze a chance to settle, the fleets were called back for two more races. Racing in those pumping conditions is very technical. It’s also a real test of a sailor’s stamina and psychological endurance, and the hot Florida weather can be the straw that literally breaks the Camelbak!

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Brenno Francioli from Brasil

“It was very hard out there for me today,” said Brenno Francioli from Brasil. “I’m better in high winds, but it was a good day. We should have higher winds later this week. I can’t wait!” Brenno currently sits in 29th place.

The boys are racing as one fleet, and errors on the start line are costly. With 6 boys OCS (early over the start line) in the 1st race, 8 in the 2nd race and 6 again in the 3rd, and a few boys scored OCS more than once already, there’ll be plenty of catching up to do the rest of the week. One of those affected is Mattia Camboni, the 2013 Youth World Champion, who scored 1, OCS, OCS for the three races of the day and will have no option but to race aggressively the rest of the way if the provisional results hold. Toni Bonet from Spain was incredibly regular and leads the Men’s fleet by 10 points over Frenchmen Clement Bourgeois and Oel Pouliquen, but the discard is likely to make the contest much closer once it gets into play. On the women’s side, Ma Kwan Ching from Hong Kong came out swinging in the afternoon with two bullets. Behind Ma Kwan Ching, Sara Wennekes (NED), Noy Drihan (ISR) and Emma Wilson (GBR) are lurking, but here too the discard will bring many more racers closer to the front.

The competitors this week have a venue unlike any other: the Baystar Race Village is set up directly on the sugar-white sand of Clearwater Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in America. A big tent provides well-needed shelter from the sun, overnight storage for the equipment, and a corridor has been set up from the tent to the limits of the 300 ft zone to allow everyone to launch and land without obstacles. Wind conditions today didn’t allow for racing very close to shore, but that didn’t stop regular beach-goers from lining up the boundaries of that corridor to watch the competitors up close. They took pictures, asked questions, waved flags and cheered for their favorite countries.

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Baystar Race Village on Clearwater Beach, FL USA

Planting an enormous Race Village smack in the middle of a touristic beach is a logistical challenge for sure, but it creates real excitement for everyone: for the racers who get to spend a day at the beach, for the spectators who get introduced or re-introduced to the sport, and for the local community that gets to promote its incredible natural assets and the can-do attitude of its leaders.

“It’s a throwback to the early days of windsurfing,” said Jerome Samson, President of US Windsurfing. “Most sailing events are run out of yacht clubs, and for very good reasons, but it’s often at the expense of visibility. One thing we can say with certainty is that our venue this week is very visible!”

Racing continues Tuesday Oct 21 through Saturday Oct 25.

This event would not be possible without the energy and passion of Frank Chivas and Tampa Bay Charities, the city of Clearwater, the Clearwater Community Sailing Center, the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Sports Commission, the Clearwater Yacht Club and many more generous sponsors.

Steven Cramer reports from Cancun!

Techno Competition in Cancun - credit: Patrik Pollak

Techno North Americans in Cancun – Photo Credit: Patrik Pollak

The 2014 North Americans for the Techno and RS:X classes took place Feb 20-23 in beautiful Cancun, Mexico, and were particularly important for a few reasons: it was an opportunity for RS:X competitors to qualify their country for the 2015 Pan-Am Games, and it was a continental country qualifier in the Techno 293 class for the upcoming Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China!

The Youth Olympic Games (YOG) are the real deal: first held four years ago in Singapore, they’re modeled after the ‘grown-ups’ Olympics. They will feature 3,500 competitors from 200 countries competing across 30 sports, lavish opening/closing ceremonies, an Olympic village, and even a cute mascot: Nanjinglele. According to the Games’ official website: “the word LELE embodies the spirit of advancing and pioneering, and heralds Nanjing’s ambition to (…) leave the city’s footprint on the trail of the Olympic movement by delivering joyful, glamorous and indelible experiences for young people around the world.”

So there you have it. But before getting to the Games – and yes, windsurfing on the Bic Techno 293 is one of the two sailing disciplines at the YOG! -, one has to qualify the country, and the spots are few and far between. This is done through continental qualifiers, and the event at Puerto Cancun was the regional qualifier for our part of the world.

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Swanky Launch Area in Cancun – Photo Credit: Patrik Pollak

Thirty kids aged 15-16 from Aruba, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the USA competed hard for two spots. The US boys qualified in style, sweeping the podium at the event, but it was down to the wire for the second spot (Aruba came from behind on the last day to take it!).

One of the US teammates, Steven Cramer from Miami, FL, sent us this great report from the event:

Steven Cramer from the US, rigging up for action in Cancun! Credit: Patrik Pollak

Steven Cramer from the US, rigging up for action in Cancun! Credit: Patrik Pollak

My name is Steven Cramer and I windsurf. I like to windsurf because I like to go fast and I love the feeling I get when I am on the water. I have been racing techno 293 for 2 years and I cannot believe the incredible places I have been. Cancun is one of the most beautiful. I remember when I was first told about the North American Championship/Youth Olympic Qualifier in Mexico. It seemed like a huge challenge. But I like challenges.

The first day we arrived in Cancun it was just a beach with a tent. By the last day, it was a full-fledged windsurfing festival. The wind was amazing, and so were the competitors. We arrived 4 days before the competition to train, and the wind was perfect for me – light to mid wind. I felt really good. The first day of the regatta, though, was a huge test for me. It got really windy and I am better at light wind – I am a smaller guy. I did ok, but not well enough to get near the podium. Fortunately for me, the wind got lighter the next 2 days and I got better. The last and 4th day, the wind picked up again, like the first day, and I had to pull myself together, hold on, and survive the wind, if I wanted to make it to the podium.

I somehow did it. This was an amazing experience for me because there were so many really good sailors. I loved every minute of being there, challenges and all, and I hope to go back!

Tight Racing at the NAs in Cancun - Credit: Patrik Pollak

Tight Racing at the NAs in Cancun – Credit: Patrik Pollak

Results from the event are here!

Patrik Pollak, traveler and videographer extraordinaire was there to report. Check out his recap video and feel like you were part of the action:

And more of Patrik’s great pics right here!

Busy Halloween for US Windsurfers!

The air is getting a little chilly everywhere, and the season’s first snow storms have struck already. Time to stash the gear away, hang cobwebs from the front porch and drink spiced pumpkin eggnog, right? Wrong! Halloween may be around the corner, but the windsurf racing season is in full swing! Check out the schedule of US racers for the next couple of weeks:

We even have a few intrepid world travelers attending the following international events:

  • Oct 20-26: Civitavecchia, Italy – RS:X Youth World Championships
  • Oct 26 – Nov 3: Eilat, Israel – U15/17 Techno European Championships

 

Trick or Treat?… BOTH!

Olympic Windsurfing

The windsurfing competition of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games is drawing to a close, with the medal race to be run on Tueday, August 7.  In the men’s fleet, Dorian Van Rijsselberge has locked up the gold medal even before the medal race!  His commanding lead makes it mathematically impossilbe to lose his first place position.  In the women’s fleet, Marina Alabau is currently in first, but the medals are still undecided.  If you are a subscriber to almost any cable or sattelite tv service here in the US, you can watch the medal race live!  Check out http://www.nbcolympics.com/sailing/index.html to watch the race live, or to watch any of the races of the event that have already taken place.  The men’s medal race is scheduled for 1:00pm and the women’s for 2pm (London time – which is 8am and 9am US East Coast Time) on Tuesday, August 7.  Current results can be found at http://www.sailing.org/olympics/london2012/results_centre.php 

Our US competitors, Bob Willis and Farrah Hall, did not qualify for the medal race.  We are thrilled with their performances however and they both performed beyond expectations for their first Olympic regatta.  You can read about their experiences at the Olympics at www.bobsails.com and www.farrahhall.com

Lots of great articles and videos have been written and created about this year’s Olympic Windsurfing event, here are links to just a few:

http://www.redeyechicago.com/sports/ct-red-0727-bobwillis-20120726,0,2721315.story

http://www.redeyechicago.com/sports/ct-red-0727-bob-willis-blog-20120726,0,3342282.story

http://www.wbal.com/article/92550/3/template-story/Annapolis-Farrah-Hall-Moves-Up-In-Olympic-Windsurfing-Standings

http://www.wbal.com/article/92237/3/template-story/Farrah-Hall-Windsurfing-In-The-Olympics-With-A-Maryland-Flare

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZGzcKt9dlIU&feature=youtu.be

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-08-02/london-windsurfers-sail-to-impress-in-effort-to-stay-in-olympics

http://www.peterboroughtoday.co.uk/sport/other-sport/olympic-photo-finish-boost-for-dempsey-1-4117407

http://wwos.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=8508115

Countdown to the Olympics

photo coutesy of US Sailing

The Olympic windsurfing competiton begins in just a few days, on July 31 in Weymouth, UK.  Bob Willis and Farrah Hall are our representatives for the United States and we are so excited to be cheering them on!  They (and windsurfing in the US) are getting lots of great press – here is a story that was published in Hartford Magazine recently (at http://hartfordmag.com/article-448-bob-willis.html

WINDSURFING

Bob Willis started out sailing at age 7, and sailed at Connecticut College. But his passion is windsurfing, and that’s where Willis, a Chicago native who graduated from Conn College in 2009 with a degree in economics, will compete in the London Olympics, in what’s known as the RS:X sailboard class. Willis took time off from studying at Conn College to try and qualify for the 2008 Olympics. He finished third in the trials (competitors must win to qualify) at age 19 and was encouraged, so set 2012 as his goal. Willis is the top-ranked American in the sport and is the first U.S. Olympic windsurfer who doesn’t hail from California or Florida. It’s a good thing he made the team, because in a recent controversial decision, the International Sailing Federation announced that windsurfing, which has been an Olympic sport since 1984, will be discontinued after these Olympics and kiteboarding will be added for the 2016 Olympics.

US Olympic Windsurfers Prepare for Weymouth!

photo by Dale Thompson

Bob Willis and Farrah Hall have both qualified to represent the United States in windsurfing at the Olympic Games this summer

.  The 2012 Summer Olympic Games are based in London, but the sailing events will take place at the southern end of the UK in Weymouth.  This is typically a windy venue, so the windsurfing should be fantastic!  You can read all abouth Bob and Farrah’s preparation for the Olympics on their respective web blogs www.bobsails.com and www.farrahhall.com .  Congratulations to both of them!

US Olympic Windsurfing Team Announced!

Congratulations to Farrah Hall and Bob Willis!

The recent ISAF  World Sailing Championships in Perth, Australia was the final event of the US Olympic trials for windsurfing.  After many days of racing in a variety of conditions, Farrah Hall and Bob Willis were named to the 2012 US Olympic Team for windsurfing.  Bob had a fantastic event and in addition to being the top US finisher, he also finished well enough to qualify the United States for a spot to compete in the Olympics for men’s RS:X.  Farrah was the top US finsher among the women, and just missed qualifying the US for a spot in the women’s RS:X event at the Olympics.  She will have another chance to qualify the country at the 2012 RS:X World Championships in Cadiz, Spain in March. 

You can read more about their adventures on their Olympic quests at www.farrahhall.com and www.bobsails.com.