Racing kicked off at the Aquece Rio – International Sailing Regatta 2014 with the RS:X and Finn fleets taking to two race courses on Guanabara Bay.
London 2012 Olympic gold medallist Dorian van Rijsselberge (NED) was on scintillating form in the 28-boat Men’s RS:X fleet and took both the day’s race victories. Racing on Pão de Açúcar the Dutchman read the conditions perfectly to lead Byron Kokkalanis (GRE) who sits second on five points following a 2-3.
On the course the Dutchman said, “We were on one of the inside courses and close to Flamengo Beach. There’s a little bit more breeze towards the middle of the bay so I just tried to find the breeze and go fast.
“It’s not too crazy. The wind was light’ish so it was tricky but still fun and plenty of opportunities.
“You have to put a lot of work into racing. There’s a lot of pumping but once you pump it pays off if you go the right way so it’s key.”
With 28 racers on the water it’s not far off the Rio 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition fleet size. In two years’ time 36 racers will take to water and van Rijsselberge is enjoying the similarities,
“We have a really nice fleet here. That’s the biggest plus. Everybody is here and it’s a strong field. I think it’s a really good test. We have the top ten from the last World Championship so it’s a high quality. That shows that everybody wants to see how it is and try to get the best out of it.”
Rio de Janeiro provides a beautiful backdrop to the fleets and the Dutchman enjoys his surroundings, “It’s nice to have two big monuments here. The Sugarloaf is a little bit in the way, it stops the breeze,” smiled Van Rijsselberge. “But it’s interesting and we’re enjoying it. The scenery is really nice.“
Charline Picon (FRA) imitated Dorian van Rijsselberge’s (NED) performance by taking both bullets in the Women’s RS:X. Picon has Rio experience under her belt and used the information she’s gathered on the opening day to lead Maayan Davidovich (ISR) by three points.
“The first race I had a very bad start but I finished first so I’m very happy,” beamed Picon. “I had a good downwind and good tactics. In the second I didn’t have a good start but I had a good battle at the top and finished second behind Marina [Alabau].
“We’ve had a good time here and came here last year and we were here in the winter and it’s very pleasant for competing. It’s nice to have Sugarloaf and everything around us.“
Brazil’s Patricia Freitas recorded two fourth places and is third overall on eight points.
Racing in the RS:X resumes on 4 August at 13:00 whilst the remaining seven fleets kick off racing. All five race courses will be used on the second day of racing.