The Oman Sail-organised Laser Radial Women’s World Championship is dishing up some spectacularly close racing with just four points separating the top three boats. The conditions, with winds reaching 15knots and big waves are adding to the excitement and making this world class dinghy championship on the Gulf of Oman one of the most challenging to date.
Leading the field on equal points with just two races to go are Evi Van Acker (BEL) and Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN). Van Acker with three first places to count however, moves into pole position.
With a 4,6 score today, number 1-ranked Van Acker (30), said she felt she could have done better but her focus now is on the final two races. “It is a pity I guess, but it is what it is and I have to be full on for tomorrow. The forecast is also for some lighter winds so it is likely to be really tricky so I will just have to be really focused.
“The conditions with big winds and waves are amazing. I think it is every sailor’s dream to have conditions like this.”
Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN), who started sailing at the age of five mainly in Optimists and who is now 24, had a reasonable day with a 4,7 but confesses to have struggled a bit in the conditions particularly in the first race of the day.
“I think it was my nerves that got to me in the first race because it was quite tough in the big swell and waves. You have to sail really fast on them and that was really difficult, especially the downwind legs. I had a bit of trouble in the first race where I ended up in the group and I couldn’t get free. In the second race however, I was calm and stuck to my plan and I did as I should and finished second so I am very happy.”
Marit Bouwmeester (NED) reigning World Champion and silver medalist at London 2012, scored 10,4 today which drops her down a peg to third, just four points behind the leading duo. It is all about tomorrow however and Bouwmeester, a perfectionist, knows what she has to do.
Josefin Olsson (SWE) who won the ISAF Sailing World Cup Final in Abu Dhabi a few weeks ago has been performing well in Oman this week with a 1,2 on her score line. However, this 26-year-old from Kungliga Svenska Segel Sällskapet (KSSS), also struggled a bit today in the big conditions. She sailed a good first race of the day but had to discard a 23rd in race 4. She is still only 8pts off the leaders however, so there is still a chance for a comeback tomorrow.
“I was trying to do my best in the second race of the day but I found the conditions a bit tricky. I still have a chance tomorrow with two good races and there is talk of the wind being slightly less which, for me is good news, because anything can happen and it gives me another chance.”
One of the most notable performances in the Gold Fleet over the last two days comes from Alison Young (GBR). Young (28), who originally came from the GP14 Class, was impressive today in the second race. She stormed into the lead, sailed a smart race and kept her lead to the finish leaving Rindom in her wake.
She said she struggled a bit during the first few days but she now feels she’s got her head around the conditions. “I managed a good start and linked in well with the shifts and the pressure and gained a nice lead. I struggled a bit on the downwind in the first race, spoke to my coach, changed a few things and got myself into a bit of space and a nice rhythm.”
Reigning Olympic Champion, Lijia Xu (CHN), the 28-year-old sailor from Shanghai, who is back on the race scene after a two-year break to recover from sailing-related injury, says this event is all about getting back into the grove for her. Given the break from sailing, her mixed results this week are not a surprise but she says she is really enjoying the regatta and feels it has now given her the confidence to contest a place at the Rio Olympics.
“It has been good to be back in the boat and enjoying the racing, this event in Oman was always going to be a good guide and although we needed to see how things went, my results have generally been better than expected, so I am going to have a go at contesting a place at the Rio Olympics!”
Racing in Silver fleet has been equally testing. Line Flem Høst (NOR) scored another first today and by discarding a couple of poor results from earlier in the week, retains first place overall from Isabella Bertold (CAN). In third place is Andrea Aldana (GUA), with Susannah Pyatt (NZL) in fourth.
As the event reaches its final day tomorrow, competition for World Championship victory is still very much wide open. The last two races of the event are scheduled to start at 1200 local time (CET +3).
For results from the Laser Radial Women’s World Championships, please go to: Laser Class Association International Results
To watch reigning Olympic Champion Lijia Xu from China announce she is going for a place at the Rio Olympics after a two-year break from sailing click here!
How to follow the racing