The 2014 RS:X European and Youth Championships and Open Trophy was hosted in the beautiful town of Cesme from 30th of June till 5th of July. The popularity and success of the Championship was proved from the number of athletes having competed. 39 nations were represented, with 81 men and 52 women in the senior division and 67 boys and 27 girls in the youth division – for a total of 227 competitors from all 6 continents. The racing series in a whole range of weather conditions was more than enough to determine very deserving Champions.
In the qualification series, the Polish Teams with former World and European Champion Piotr Myszka, world Champion Przemyslaw Miarczynski and youth world champion Pawel Tarnowski have managed to obtain top spots on the leaderboard across all of the categories as they dominate the first & second day of racing in Turkey; from the seniors to the youth classes whose championships run at the same time. All in all very positive qualification series for the athletes representing Poland but the hard work wasn’t over yet. The final series stage started with perfect conditions with the breeze around 20 knots – for some fast and furious racing but in the second day of final series stage the conditions out on the race track were marginal for racing. Gusts reaching up to 30 knots and a big sea, forced the race committee to make the decision of whether or not to go ahead with the scheduled racing. As the wind steadily picked up throughout the day, the Race Committee ultimately gave the call to abandon racing for the day. So the end of their journey for most at the RS:X European Championship and Open Trophy, but for the top 10 there was all still more to play for. At the same time the ones not qualified for the medal race were having their Final race for places 11 and onwards.
After 4 days of tough competition, and one no-racing day due to strong winds, the 2014 RS:X European Windsurfing Championship & Open Trophy was all about the double-points Medal Race today. The top 10 men’s and women’s teams were set based on the leaderboard from the 8 races held before and the last day would give the the final push to make it to the podium. In the RS:X women’s fleet, Charline Picon had guaranteed herself a medal, the question was which colour. Behind her, nothing was guaranteed, and points were so tight that 6 athletes had a chance to make it to the podium. In the RS:X Men, despite winning 6 of the 8 races, series leader Piotr Myszka had nothing guaranteed. The points behind him were so close, that in theory 5 riders had a shot at the gold medal.
The men’s medal race got underway in a breeze of 20 to 25 knots. Polish Myszka had to just finish somewhere in the middle of the 10 board to to secure gold – but what happened during the start will rank as one of his worst nightmares. A crash with teammate Tarnowski threw both of them into the water in spectacular fashion. After that Myszka had to come back strong. With France’s Bontemps now leading the race, the gold medal was at stake. With unbelievable strength and bold moves, Myszka pushed hard and soon caught the fleet up and managed to finish in 6th place – enough to secure him the gold medal by 2 points. Bontemps kept ahead to win the medal race and claim the silver medal, with the bronze going to another Polish athlete Miarczynski. Immediately after the men, the 10 women took their place on the starting line. France’s Picon was assured of a medal, and as defending champion was determined to make it gold again. Only two athletes had the chance to seize her gold medal dream. The wind increased even more and the women were struggling to keep control of their boards on the water. Not a good start for Picon, but she found her rhythm and sailed through the fleet to decisively win the medal race and defend her European Championship title. No changes in the leaderboard behind her with Alabau going home with silver and Klepacka with bronze. Conditions then just got worse – meaning no more racing. So the leaderboard in the youth fleets remained unchanged, with Poland’s Furmanski winning the Youth Men and Israel’s Tibi the Youth women.
The full video highlights can be found here: http://youtu.be/6HoEiVCqCsk
Photo Credits: Vincenzo Baglione