Final Report: Pascual and Hall Clinch Olympic Tickets While Nores Delivers U21 Medal
The final day of racing at the 2020 RS:X World Championships came to a close today, resulting in two more US Sailing Team athletes claiming their tickets to the Tokyo Olympic Games. Farrah Hall (Annapolis, Md.) and Pedro Pascual (West Palm Beach, Fla.) both have earned selection to the 2020 U.S. Olympic Sailing Team and will proudly compete in Enoshima at the Summer Games.
Greeted by another light wind day in Sorrento, the only races sailed today were the Men’s and Women’s Medal Races, and one final race in the Men’s fleet. After wrapping up a long week facing challenging conditions, all three U.S. competitors have something to celebrate, with Geronimo “Momo” Nores (Miami Beach, Fla. taking home an Under 21 Bronze Medal.
After completing a long season, Hall is already looking forward to moving forward and honing her focus on the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. “I’m absolutely thrilled to represent the U.S. at the Olympics again. The last few months have been really hard, so now that this extensive travel period and selection events are over, I have some breathing room to focus on preparing for the Games.”
As a returning Olympian, Hall is all too familiar with what it takes to make it to this elite level of the sport. She has spent over a decade campaigning for the Olympics in the RS:X and as she reflected on her progression from the London 2012 Games to now, she is particularly proud of her dedication.
“I’m really happy I have stayed in it for so long and keep fighting,” said Hall. “Sometimes I surprise myself when I think about how long I’ve been dedicated to this. In that respect, I’m proud of myself. I’ve sacrificed a lot of certainty and stability to pursue this goal, but the tradeoff has been worth it.”
U.S. athlete Pedro Pascual likewise punched his ticket for the Tokyo 2020 Games this week. Though this will also be his second Games, the reality of being selected as the Men’s RS:X representative for Team USA hasn’t sunk in yet. “I don’t know what to feel, I haven’t really swallowed it yet. I still can’t believe I’m going to my second Olympics,” he said.
This time around, Pascual is looking forward to having his experiences from the Rio 2016 Games in his back pocket. “I was 20-years-old in Rio, the youngest on the US Sailing Team. I really didn’t know what to expect and found it to be overwhelming—exciting to the point that I didn’t know how to control those feelings. So now that I know what to expect, I know how to handle the pressure and nerves.”
After a strong week in a variety of conditions, U.S. Men’s RS:X athlete Geronimo Nores claimed a spot on the podium among the competitors under 21. While Pascual emerged the victor of the U.S. trials, Nores is encouraged by his U21 bronze medal win and overall performance this week.
“I came down here with goals in mind and we executed everything in our plan. At the end of the day, we didn’t get the Olympic ticket, but that’s how it goes,” he said. “I have to say, it was a lot of fun sailing against Pedro. He truly is an awesome competitor and a great guy. Whoever performs the best and most consistently qualifies, and that’s the name of the game. This has been an incredible learning experience for both of us. I’ve learned a lot about myself in high-pressure situations, and we ended up with a medal. For now, I’m quite happy with that and we’re going to use all of this moving forward for the next one.”
US Sailing’s Olympic Development Director Leandro Spina (Miami, Fla.) has been working with Nores since his early days competing at the Youth World level. “Momo has a long term plan and is right on track. After winning a Youth Worlds gold medal, now he has transitioned into the Olympic class with great individual races results in the top of the fleet and has become one of the best in breeze,” said Spina.
After his successes this week, Spina and Nores have a lot to look forward to as they begin preparations for future quadrennials. Spina continued, “A U21 medal at the Olympic class World Championship is proof of his potential for the future and he is really looking forward to the new foiling discipline for 2024 and 2028”.
“We’re getting started early and fully going for it,” Nores added. “We already have summer training camps and regattas planned to put together a really good young American team. As the future unfolds, we’ll see how that goes.”
All three U.S. competitors will return to the U.S. eager to take a brief break before getting back to work. While Nores has his sights on foiling and getting comfortable with the new iQFoil windsurfing equipment, Pascual and Hall will begin their next round of preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Their next major international event will be the 51st Trofeo SAR Princesa Sofia Regatta, beginning March 30 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.
U.S. Men’s RS:X Results – View Full Results
- Geronimo Nores – 33rd
- Pedro Pascual – 34th
US Women’s RS:X Results – View Full Results
- Farrah Hall – 35th
How to Follow – Men’s and Women’s RS:X Worlds
Day Six: Railey Perseveres to Qualify for Tokyo as USA Reflects on Strong Radial Team
Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) emerged victorious over fellow US Sailing Team athletes, Erika Reineke (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) and Charlotte Rose (Houston, Texas), to win a spot on Team USA for the Tokyo 2020 Games. After capping off the event with a strong top-ten finish, Railey finished 14th overall. Reineke and Rose finished the event in 26th and 36th, respectively.
The final day of the 2020 ILCA Women’s Laser Radial World Championships yet again delivered some shifty conditions on Port Phillip Bay. Athletes hit the water as scheduled and sailed one race in three to eight knots. When the shifty breeze never solidified enough for the remaining two races, the Race Committee made the decision to finish the day after one race, marking the end of the Championship and U.S. Laser Radial Olympic trials.
At this point, Railey, at age 32, is an Olympic veteran with two Games under her belt. Still, her road to Tokyo has been far from easy. “It has been a hell of a road to get here. These last two Worlds have been the most stressful trials I’ve ever competed in,” she said.
“I’ve been working really hard over the last five months after I pretty much started from rock bottom with my body because of health issues. I knew coming into this event that Australia was going to be windy and it turned out to also be really shifty. So, going into our trials sitting in second place and expecting conditions that I wasn’t necessarily 100% ready for was definitely stressful.”
After overcoming so many challenges in the last three years, she feels more prepared to take on the mental challenges of the Games, “This is the hardest road I’ve ever taken to get to an Olympics. I feel like I’m better prepared for these Games because, in the past, I didn’t really know what it meant to work for something this hard.”
Though Railey has a great sense of accomplishment, the first thing on her mind after officially qualifying for the Games wasn’t the joy of victory. Instead, she first thought of her teammates.
“It was funny,” she mused, “of course when they signaled that the racing was over, I should have been ecstatic and jumping around my boat and celebrating qualifying for my third games, but I just started crying because I was sorry that I took a dream away from people that I care about. I don’t even know how to put it into words besides saying that I really care about Erika and Charlotte and I wish the three of us could be going together. All of us deserve it. We’ve all been working our butts off, and of course, I don’t like that I can’t be there with my teammates.”
The tight-knit team mindset is something that’s relatively new to U.S. Laser Radial sailors. The close collaboration between Railey, Reineke, and Rose is in part thanks to the efforts of US Sailing Team Laser Radial coach Steve Mitchell (GBR).
He said, “Historically, a team approach hasn’t been the case in a lot of classes in the U.S., but we’ve really tried to make that a feature of the Radial team. Paige, Erika, and Charlotte have come such a long way in the last while and they’ve all had really great results at international events. They can all be really proud of what they’ve done.”
With a collection of impressive performances and several medals from major international events, all of the U.S. Radial sailors have reasons to celebrate this quadrennial. Reineke is particularly proud of the improvements she has proved to herself and others this week, “I definitely improved in heavy air. Even at this regatta, my best race was the windiest race of the whole event.”
“It just goes to show that even though people always tell me that I’m smaller, or too light and this boat doesn’t fit me, my hard work has paid off over the last four years and I was able to keep up with the top girls in those strong breeze conditions. I think I proved some people wrong in that aspect and I proved to myself that I could do it.”
With plenty to be proud of this week, the U.S. athletes have already packed the container and are eager to return to the States. Though she has just wrapped up three long months in Australia, Railey won’t be wasting any time before turning her focus to the Games.
“I’m definitely looking forward to going home, but I’m also on another five-month time crunch,” she said. “I went into this event understanding that my weight and fitness were not where they need to be if I want to be medal potential. So, I have to get back to the drawing board and be really strategic on how to get in the best shape possible for the Games.”
After taking some well deserved time off, the Radial athletes will compete next at the 51st Trofeo SAR Princesa Sofia Regatta. The event will begin on March 30th in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.
U.S. Laser Radial Results – View Full Results
- Paige Railey – 14th
- Erika Reineke – 26th
- Charlotte Rose – 36th
- Hanne Weaver – 77th
RS:X World Championships
As things settle down in Sandringham, the RS:X athletes in Sorrento look forward to tomorrow’s final day of racing. Though the windsurfers also faced similar light and shifty conditions to the Radial athletes, they managed to get all three races in.
As one of the tallest athletes in the Men’s fleet, Geronimo Nores’ (Miami Beach, Fla.) may have had a tougher time in the light-air races, but his coach Yaniv Meir (ISR), is still pleased with his performance today. “In the morning we realized it’s a hard condition since he’s one of the bigger sailors in the fleet, but he actually performed really well,” said Meir. “His first beats were really good, he was totally ready for the day despite the wind, and he put in 100% on the water.”
Nores’ overall solid performance this week has also guaranteed him a spot on the podium among the competitors under the age of 21. Ranked 33rd overall, Nores is guaranteed the U21 bronze and he has a shot at the silver tomorrow.
Just behind Nores in the standings is U.S. Men’s RS:X athlete Pedro Pascual (West Palm Beach, Fla.), currently ranked 34th. In the Women’s fleet, Farrah Hall (Annapolis, Md.) currently stands 35th.
Tomorrow, the competitors will have one more day of racing to solidify their spots in the overall standings. Three final races are scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m., local time. After the first two races, the top-ten athletes in each fleet will compete in a medal race while the remaining competitors close the event with a final fleet race.
Tomorrow will also mark the end of the 2020 U.S. RS:X Olympic trials and two athletes will have officially qualified to Team USA for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
How to Follow – Laser Radial Worlds
Day Five: Vexing Conditions at Radial and RS:X Worlds
Laser Radial World Championships
For the first time since U.S. athletes began training in Melbourne for the 2020 Worlds Championships a few months ago, sailors were met with westerly winds that created shifty, puffy, and unpredictable conditions. At a velocity of 15-20 knots, the westerly delivered 20-30 degree shifts that came down the course randomly.
Naturally, the inconsistent and unpredictable wind vexed the competitors at the 2020 ILCA Women’s Laser Radial World Championships. “The whole fleet was kind of scratching their head when they came in. They weren’t really sure what was happening out there,” said US Sailing Team Laser Radial coach, Steve Mitchell (GBR).
“There wasn’t much I could say in our debrief today because nobody’s performances had anything to do with speed or technique,” Mitchell continued. “It was just being in the right pressure at the right time and there wasn’t any pattern to that, unfortunately. So it was a tough day, but we’ve got three more tomorrow, so we’ll see what that brings.”
After today’s challenging races, US Sailing Team athletes Erika Reineke (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.), and Charlotte Rose (Houston, Texas) will begin the final day of racing standing in 21st, 22nd, and 32nd, respectively.
Tomorrow will feature three more fleet races to close the final series. These final races will also determine the victor of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials. Whoever emerges with the lowest combined score from this event and the 2019 World Championship will qualify for a spot on Team USA at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. The current leader is Railey, with Reineke trailing by eight positions in the overall standings and Rose trailing by seven.
Tomorrow, the athletes are anticipating some more normal Melbourne conditions. While they’re still expecting chilly temperatures, a more predictable southwesterly seabreeze is in the forecast. Racing is scheduled to begin at 11:00 a.m., local time.
RS:X World Championships
The RS:X athletes at the southern end of Port Phillip Bay likewise endured the challenging and unpredictable breeze. Like the Radials, they experienced dramatic shifts and gusts that were hard to identify. U.S. Women’s RS:X athlete Farrah Hall (Annapolis, Md.) said, “In short, Sorrento delivered another complicated day, with a new wind direction. Patience and waiting for opportunities was the name of the game, but the wind was so gusty and shifty that sometimes even the best strategies failed.”
Hall’s only solace was going herself plenty of room to roll with the punches of frequent gusts and shifts. “I didn’t have good starts all day so it put me behind again, which was disappointing. However, during the race I had space to sail smart, hook into gusts and shifts, and wait for the opportunity to make up points.”
U.S. Men’s RS:X athlete Pedro Pascual (West Palm Beach, Fla.) agreed that taking opportunities where you could find them was key today, “I was hesitating a bit when choosing my lanes and which side to play. I’m looking forward to changing the way I’ll approach each race and planning on being more aggressive making those decisions.”
Pascual currently stands in 32nd, a few positions behind fellow U.S. athlete Geronimo Nores (Miami Beach, Fla.). Nores is currently in 24th and in the Women’s fleet, Hall is ranked 35th. The three U.S. competitors are looking forward to two more days of racing on Port Phillip Bay. Tomorrow, three more races are scheduled to start at 1:00 p.m., local time.
Day Four: Fitness Pays Dividends at Radial and RS:X Worlds
Laser Radial World Championships
Competitors at the 2020 ILCA Women’s Laser Radial World Championships finally had a full day of racing, competing in three 15-20 knot races, to close out the qualifying series. After an unusual light and tricky start to the event, today delivered the famous Port Phillip Bay solid breeze with steep waves, challenging the competitors to a long and physical session.
US Sailing Team Laser Radial coach Steve Mitchell (GBR) knew today would be an endurance battle, so during his morning meeting with the athletes, he said, “If you don’t come back to the dock completely exhausted then you didn’t try hard enough today.”
Living up to Mitchell’s expectation, U.S. Laser Radial athletes delivered on the water and were exhausted by the time they finished all three races. Despite the long, tiring day, the grueling effort paid off especially well for Erika Reineke (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) and Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.). Both finished all three races in the top-ten, and Reineke even came away with a top-three finish.
Today’s strong performance in the windy conditions is a marked improvement from Reineke and Railey’s historical performances in heavy air, and are a testament to the training they’ve focused on over the past few months.
“They’ve all spent a lot of time in the gym in the last six months,” said Mitchell. “We’ve switched their programs around so they would be better in these conditions, getting them stronger, slightly heavier, and more fit. because historically, these conditions haven’t been their strongest. We also expect to see similar conditions in Tokyo – strong winds with this kind of aggressive wave state – so we changed their gym programs to get them stronger, slightly heavier, and more fit. A lot of their on the water training has also been directed at hiking and enduring the pain over and over.”
Railey is glad to see her hard work pay off, “It’s good that the changes we’ve been making and things we’ve been doing in training are paying dividends when those conditions come at race time.”
While Charlotte Rose (Houston, Texas) had an unfortunate capsize in the final race thanks to the aggressive wave state, her time in the gym helped her finished the other two races in 19th and 10th. After today, she moved up a couple of positions to 28th overall.
Tomorrow, the competitors and race organizers are expecting sailable conditions all day, so the start time has been moved forward to 11:00 a.m., local time. Three races are scheduled, and the Race Committee is optimistic that the windy forecast will deliver an efficient day on the water. As they have met the minimum threshold of qualifying races, the final series will begin tomorrow. U.S. athletes Railey, Reineke, and Rose will be among the top 53 sailors advancing to gold fleet and Hanne Weaver (Gig Harbor, Wash.) will compete in silver fleet.
RS:X World Championships
At the southern end of the bay, the RS:X athletes in Sorrento likewise endured grueling conditions to finish another three races. In addition to breeze that consistently reached 20 knots, their race area was also affected by strong current.
“We have a lot of current by the start line coupled with chop, so it can be really challenging to get off the line,” said U.S. men’s RS:X athlete Geronimo Nores (Miami Beach, Fla.), who thought navigating the tricky chop and tide on the starting line proved to be a priority today.
He continued, “It wasn’t a super shifty day, it was windy enough that we were just lay line on the windward beats, so it was a matter of a lot of hard work getting off the start line and then just working extremely hard to get around the course and gain whatever you could. Upwind, it was tricky in terms of technique, staying upright, and trying to go fast.”
After finishing today’s races in 18th, 12th and 15th, Nores currently stands in 28th place. Not far behind, U.S. athlete Pedro Pascual (West Palm Beach, Fla.) is currently in 33rd. In the Women’s fleet, Farrah Hall (Annapolis, Md.) is in 28th as well.
After a long day on the water that bled into the evening, the athletes are looking forward to some rest before heading back to the venue tomorrow. The competitors are expecting the three scheduled races to be in a similar wind and current patterns with slightly less velocity. Tomorrow, the athletes will also move on to the final series. All of the U.S. competitors will compete with the athletes ranked in the top half of each class, in gold fleet.
Day Three: Speed and Starts Pay at RS:X and Radial Worlds
Laser Radial World Championships
Slow and steady seems to be the pace of the 2020 ILCA Women’s Laser Radial World Championships. Thanks to conflicting breezes in the morning and some brief thunderstorms in the afternoon, the athletes hit the water just before 6:00 p.m. to finish one race for the third day in a row.
Thankfully, the mild cold front delivered strong breeze once the storms rolled through, and the race committee was able to promptly run one race for each fleet in about 20 knots from the south with significant, three-foot chop.
US Sailing Team athlete Charlotte Rose (Houston, Texas) thrived in the late breeze and welcomed it with open arms. “I was so excited to hike and not sit in the boat for once,” she said. “I told Leandro [Spina, US Sailing’s Olympic Development Director and coach] that I was just going to get off the line and hike my butt off. It was pretty much a drag race all the way to the lay line, so it was pretty simple.”
Focusing on clean starts and good boat speed seemed to work for Rose. She hiked hard upwind to round the top mark eighth, then caught up to third place by the bottom mark. After maintaining her position in the top five through the second lap, she finished the race in fourth.
Based on her result today, one wouldn’t guess that Rose spits her time between campaigning and pursuing a degree at Jacksonville University. “It’s been hard,” she said on juggling the two. “I’ve been doing a lot of college sailing and did a couple of training camps in Miami and Fort Lauderdale over the span of the past four months. I also have been putting in a lot of time in the gym when I’m not on the water. It’s important to stay in shape and keep getting fitter during my time off the water and at school.”
One of the benefits of pursuing the Olympics while being enrolled in school is the support she gets from the Jacksonville University Sailing Team. “It means so much to me that I have such a huge amount of support and I love my team a lot for it. I know that whatever happens this week, they’re still going to be proud of me.”
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Jacksonville University Sailing Team’s Sendoff for Charlotte Rose
US Sailing Team athletes Erika Reineke (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) and Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) finished today’s race in 13th and 23rd, respectively. “They both got good starts. This breeze is the kind of the condition where size makes a reasonable difference, so they were both working hard and rounded top 15-20 around the first windward mark,” said their coach Steve Mitchell (GBR).
Both athletes demonstrated their ability to hike around the course to hold their position, though Railey unfortunately caught the wrong side of a shift and dropped back a couple of positions. Still, Mitchell is pleased with how the day went, “They’re sailing well, they started well and their speed was pretty good today.”
Since the Radial athletes haven’t reached the threshold of four qualifying races, tomorrow will feature three more, before the final series begins on Thursday. For the remainder of the week, the competitors will likely see packed schedules with three races on each day in order to make up for the weather delays. “We’re three races into a 12 race regatta,” continued Mitchell. “So there’s a lot to happen yet. Tomorrow, we’ve got similar conditions to this evening and three races on the schedule so will be a bit of a hike off, hopefully, their time in the gym will translate into speed and scores tomorrow.”
With a full schedule tomorrow, the Race Committee and competitors are optimistic that the breezy forecast will deliver the opportunity for more races.
RS:X World Championships
At the southern end of the bay, the RS:X sailors dealt with fewer delays and were able to get a full day of racing in. “This morning, the ocean was really fogged in, so we knew there would be some waiting, but the race committee had the weather really dialed in, and started really close to their estimate of when the wind would fill,” said U.S. Women’s RS:X athlete, Farrah Hall (Annapolis, Md.).
Unlike their teammates in Sandringham, the RS:X sailors had to pay close attention shifty and puffy conditions. “The wind is unstable due to the heating of the peninsula and comes through the course in bands, so the first race was all about hunting the pressure and shifts,” continued Hall. “The second and third races were more geared towards getting a clean start and nailing the correct side while staying hooked into the strongest gusts with the best angle.”
In these windy conditions, mental fortitude is just as important as physical endurance. Hall feels, “The best aspect of my racing today was the fighting I did. In a fleet like this, you can just never give up, and you really have to physically fight and work hard on every leg to win places.” Hall’s focus and tenacious attitude landed her in 26th overall. Happy with her mindset, she plans to hang onto that throughout the week, “This was the biggest takeaway of the day, and I’ll carry that attitude going into tomorrow.”
The Men’s RS:X athlete likewise finished all three scheduled races today. U.S. sailors Pedro Pascual (West Palm Beach, Fla.) and Geronimo Nores (Miami Beach, Fla.) currently stand in 23rd and 29th, respectively.
Pascual had great starts and tactical decisions that delivered three consistent finishes of 10th, 12th, and 17th. Meanwhile, Nores’ coach, Yaniv Meir (ISR), thinks, “Geronimo’s starts were his enemy today, but his speed was really good.” Nores’ speed in the windy conditions proved to be an asset, particularly in the last race as he finished eighth.
Tomorrow, the athletes are expecting starts and speed to remain a priority as the forecast is indicating strong wind at 25-30 knots. The heavy breeze will likely create a physically trying day for all of the athletes on Port Phillip Bay. The RS:X sailors will resume their qualifying races tomorrow, with three races scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m., local time.
Day Two: Lessons Learned in Unstable Melbourne Conditions
The conditions on Port Phillip Bay continue to deliver challenging racing conditions on day two of the 2020 ILCA Women’s Laser Radial World Championships, allowing only one more race today. Similar to yesterday, the athletes were greeted by conflicting breezes that battling between two different directions and had a high degree of variance in strength.
“It’s absolute mayhem on the water,” US Sailing Team athlete, Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.), laughed. “We started the race in eight knots and it died down to about three. Someone could be in two knots of breeze, and one boat length away, someone else could be in four knots. Downwinds are turning into reaches and upwind, if you’re out on a corner, it could work out. So you’re just trying to do damage control.”
The athletes have much to think about on Port Phillip. Sailing inner-outer trapezoid courses, no two legs are the same in these conditions. After yesterday’s stumble, Railey says she’s learned from her mistake of risk-taking based on the assumption that the two upwind legs would be similar. “Yesterday, I was doing well in the first race. Then, on that second upwind, I was trying to play off the numbers I used on the inner loop and at the top. I lost a ton of boats, maybe 15 or more. So today, I told myself that I wasn’t going to do the same thing.”
Sure enough, Railey stayed on her toes and after a solid start, she played the shifts well enough to round the top mark in third. After a strong downwind that landed her in the top two, she shifted her priorities to make sure she had the big picture in mind once the wind died.
“The second beat went very light and shifty and brought a lot of the fleet back into the race,” said her coach, Steve Mitchell (GBR). “It then became a case of defending against people coming from all areas. Rather than thinking about how she could get into first, she was focusing on to stay top three or four, because it was super shifty and gusty. She had some learning’s from yesterday and put them into play today, which I was very happy with.” Thanks to those adjustments, Railey finished today’s race in fourth, moving up to 28th overall.
US Sailing Team Athletes Erika Reineke (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) and Charlotte Rose (Houston, Texas) also felt more comfortable in the conditions today after facing the similarly shifty breeze yesterday. Both athletes made solid decisions on the first beat that put them in the top 20 around the windward mark. Following that with a fast downwind run, they got just inside the top 10 at the bottom and fought around those positions to end up 13 and 14, respectively.
“They weren’t necessarily trying to do anything near each other, they were just both fast downwind and moving through the fleet at the same rate, which is good,” said Mitchell. “Now, it’s just a case of putting in some more solid races. The girls feel like they’re into the event now, and are racing as they know how to. They’re on the rise.”
Now, Reineke and Rose currently stand in 25th and 54th, respectively. With a lot more racing left on the table, both athletes are optimistic that they’ll have the opportunity to continue moving up the leaderboard.
After getting in only one race again, all of the competitors at the event are likely hoping for the same. The Race Committee will have to get in at least two races tomorrow in order to move onto the Final series, where the top 78 boats will qualify for Gold Fleet. If the competitors haven’t sailed a total of four races by the end of the day tomorrow, the qualifying series will continue until that threshold is met.
Thankfully, conditions are looking promising for more races. Tomorrow, a weak cold front is expected to roll into Melbourne, followed by a stronger one for Wednesday’s races. Mitchell expects the forecast will allow for a bit more racing than the previous two days, “Tomorrow, I think there could be rain and more wind, but when there aren’t thunderstorms and the cold front, it will be light. The next day looks more promising, there will be a lot of wind all day.”
The Race Committee will again attempt to make up for lost time thanks to the unstable conditions. Three races are scheduled for tomorrow, the first of which is due to begin at 2:00 p.m., local time. Tomorrow, the RS:X athletes at the southern end of the bay will also begin racing. Their first race is scheduled for 1:00 p.m., local time.
Day One: Conflicting Winds Create Game of Risk at Radial Worlds
The 2020 ILCA Women’s Laser Radial World Championships are off to a slow start as conflicting breezes delivered unstable racing conditions for day one. Throughout the afternoon, a southerly seabreeze fought southeasterly winds coming off the land to create some especially shifty racing.
The 30-40 degree shifts at six to nine knots created very challenging racing for the athletes. “You had to be decisive off the start line and know when to defend your position versus attack to gain more spots—it was a tricky day,” said Steve Mitchell (GBR), the US Sailing Team’s Laser Radial coach.
On top of the massive swings in direction, the shifts were difficult to anticipate and prepare for. Mitchell added, “There were people who did really well that come out of one corner, and people who did really poorly that came from the other corner, but it was very hard to know which side would win until after the race.”
Faring best among the U.S. athletes, Erika Reineke (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) erred on the conservative side to finish 17th overall. Though she may have missed a few opportunities, Mitchell is comfortable with her aversion to taking significant risks on day one, “She missed a few opportunities where she could have attacked, and was a bit too conservative, but for the first race of a regatta, you have to be.”
On the other end of the spectrum, Reineke’s teammate Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) took a chance at the first leeward mark rounding that set her back to finish 27th. “She was doing alright, just outside the top ten and at the bottom mark,” said Mitchell. “Then she made an attacking decision rather than defending her position and took some risk that she didn’t really need to take. It was a bit of a lesson learned, on when to attack and defend when it’s shifty and there could be big place changes.”
Similar to Railey, US Sailing Team athlete, Charlotte Rose (Houston, Texas) made a decision that got her stuck on the wrong side of a shift and cost her some points in the race. After having a tough time trying to climb back through the fleet, she finished in 39th.
Because the wind never settled in from either direction, the competitors only finished one race in each fleet. With plenty of racing left in the regatta, the US Sailing Team athletes are looking forward to getting back on the water, hopefully for full days of racing.
According to US Sailing’s Olympic Development Director Leandro Spina (Miami, Fla.), who is also providing coaching support, “Tomorrow we’re expecting light wind, followed by a cold front on Tuesday.“
Melbourne has proven to deliver a varied set of conditions, and at a long competitive event such as this Worlds, the best will succeed in adjusting their game to the specific challenges of each day’s weather scenario. The athletes will have to maintain a fresh outlook and mentality while keeping their bodies in top physical form for each day’s racing.
The race committee will attempt to make up for the cancelled race today and run three tomorrow, beginning at 2:00 p.m., local time.
Preview: US Sailing Team RS:X and Radial Athletes Ready to Take on Port Phillip Bay
Laser Radial World Championships
On Sunday, February 23, the next round of Olympic class World Championships will begin with the start of the 2020 ILCA Women’s Laser Radial World Championships. Over 110 competitors will line up in Melbourne, AUS for the last major international event before the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
After last week’s World Championships in Melbourne and several weeks of training at the venue, the US Sailing Team is becoming familiar with what is needed for success at this challenging venue. “Our Radial team has been in Melbourne on and off since December,” said US Sailing’s Laser Radial coach Steve Mitchell (GBR). “We know it is a tricky place to sail, there can be anything from light and hot breezes to solid sea breezes with tough, steep waves and cold fronts bringing thunderstorms and powerful winds. Over the period of a week, we can see all of these conditions, so we have tried to gain as much experience as possible in the venue to prepare ourselves.”
Thanks to their time at the venue, the US Sailing Team athletes have a solid approach to tackle the tricky conditions. US Sailing Team athlete Erika Reineke (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) has a regimented daily approach that will hopefully prepare her for some solid days of racing. “We’re going to have to adapt in whatever wind direction we get. Each is going to be challenging and it’s the Worlds, so everyone’s trying to bring their A-game,” she said.
“This is the last big event before the Olympic Games, so I think everyone here is trying to give it their all and have a good regatta. Personally, I’m going to try to keep an open mind about the conditions each day and go out, make a game plan with Steve and then do my best to execute it.”
The U.S. athletes have even more reason to bring their A-game this week, as it is the final event that will determine the 2020 U.S. Olympic trials for the Laser Radial. Three athletes are currently in close contention for the single U.S. spot. Charlotte Rose (Houston, Texas) currently leads after an impressive top-ten finish at the 2019 Worlds. Just behind, Olympic veteran Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) trials by three points and Reineke by 12.
Though the sailors may have a lot on the line this week, their priorities don’t differ much from any other international regatta. “The team is not focused on the outcome of the trials during individual races, they are all focused on delivering the best performance they can during the week, both individually and as a U.S. team,” Mitchell continued. “Our goal, as a team, is to make sure we have a USA Laser Radial capable of medaling in Tokyo in five month’s time, whomever that may be.”
The athletes will begin the event with three days featuring the qualifying series, followed by a final series that will split the class into silver and gold fleets. Racing on Sunday, February 23 will be 2:00 p.m., local time.
RS:X World Championships
At the southern end of Port Phillip Bay, two more classes will simultaneously be competing for their 2020 World Championships. The Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club will host the Men’s and Women’s RS:X World Championships from Tuesday, February 25 through Saturday, February 29.
Representing the United States, Pedro Pascual (West Palm Beach, Fla.) and Geronimo Nores (Miami Beach, Fla.) will likewise have the chance to earn selection to the 2020 U.S. Olympic Sailing Team as the Men’s RS:X representative. While Pascual leads the trials over Nores by 12 points, Farrah Hall (Annapolis, Md.) will secure the Women’s spot upon completing a single race.
Similar to the Laser Radial athletes, Pascual isn’t dwelling on the trials element of the event. “I’m really looking forward to the start of the event and the opportunity to show the improvements I’ve made over the last few months,” he said.
In addition to the challenging breeze, our Men’s RS:X sailors will have their eyes on the current this week. “It’s a venue where the wind is shifty and puffy with a lot of current affecting the race area,” Pascual continued.
To maintain some flexibility in the conditions, Nores is looking to start each race in a position that allows him to be adaptable around the course. “For the first two days, we have a really clear strategy,” Nores’ coach Yaniv Meir (ISR) said of their strategy for the week. “Our priority is making gold fleet and we know that we’re looking to have protected starts and develop good speed off the line.”
In the Women’s fleet, Hall is looking to maintain that adaptability by keeping her head on a constant swivel, looking for changes in the puffy and shifty conditions. “In general, the more unstable the racing area, the better it is to prioritize strategy, speed, being patient, and hunting for gusts and shifts,” she noted. “You really have to make sure to look around continuously and plan ahead to connect the dots between gusts. Boards sailing even a couple of lengths from each other could be in completely different wind. Looking around all the time can also be an added challenge for boards when we are physically maxed out from pumping.”
All three of the athletes are looking forward to the opportunity to measure themselves against the world in this class for a final time. As the windsurfing equipment for the Paris 2024 games has been changed to the iQFoil, this will likely be the last major event in the RS:X for many of the athletes.
While the U.S. competitors are excited by the new equipment and the speed foiling brings, Hall has taken this event as an opportunity to appreciate the class and competitors that she’s become so familiar with during her time in the RS:X. “RS:X sailors have developed as a class and a fleet to have a really nice spirit of camaraderie and sportsmanship, plus a really high level of racing. I appreciate our last Worlds on the RS:X for the friendships we’ve formed and the years we’ve spent together competing, plus we are hosted by a really amazing and welcoming club who has done the maximum to help us out.”
In what will likely be the last RS:X event of its size, the 122 boards will begin racing on Port Phillip Bay on Tuesday, February 25 at 1:00 p.m., local time.
Laser Radials – View Full Entry List
- Paige Railey
- Erika Reineke
- Charlotte Rose
- Hanne Weaver
Men’s RS:X – View Full Entry List
- Geronimo Nores
- Pedro Pascual
Women’s RS:X – View Full Entry List
- Farrah Hall