After 4 days of tough competition, and yesterday's 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 and today was the final push to make it to the podium.
In the RS:X women's fleet, Charline Picon (FRA) 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 (POL) had nothing guaranteed. The points behind him were so close, that in theory 5 riders had a shot at the gold medal.
Rolling on from yesterday, the conditions were very rough out on the race track. The men's medal race got under way in a breeze of 20 to 25 knots. Polish Myszka had to just finish somewhere in the middle of the 10 board 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 Julien 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 the 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 RS:X European and Youth European Champions were officially crowned at the Medal Ceremony later in the afternoon. Whilst some races were lost, the racing series in a whole range of weather conditions was more than enough to determine very deserving Champions.
Next stop is the RS:X World Championships in September, where not only world titles, but Olympic Qualification, are up for grabs.