The RS:X World Windsurfing Championships in Mussanah, Oman, got off to a spectacular start today with all six scheduled races completed in 10-11 knots of breeze. Racing for the 145 athletes is split into two fleets - men and women - and each fleet has a Blue and Yellow group selected according to daily rankings. Each group contests three races per day in the opening qualifying rounds.
Today, the 60-strong women's fleet was first off and Peina Chen (CHN), was unstoppable. The lightweight, 26-year-old who recently finished second at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Qingdao, led all three races including the last which she won by an impressive 1 minute 6 seconds. She goes into day two with a three-point lead over Bryony Shaw (GBR) - world Number 1-ranked women's windsurfer. In third place after day one is Malgorzata Bialecka (POL) with 10 points.
A delighted Peina Chen gave some insight on her edge today: "My increased fitness and my ability to sustain the pumping played a big part. Also, I have spent the last two weeks here in Oman training so I am familiar with the conditions, including the hot air. It is a great venue for this sort of event because everything is so convenient and easy and the sailing conditions are superb."
Racing was exceptionally close in the 85-strong men's fleet although the 9-10 knot shifty breeze proved a tactical challenge.
Pierre Le Coq (FRA) who finished the day with two firsts and a second is the overnight leader of the men's fleet. Le Coq, from Brest, Brittany, said it was technically quite difficult on the race course so he was pleased with his consistent performance.
"I was happy that I managed to be quite fast upwind, and downwind I sailed deep. Also it was the conditions I like, so I felt very comfortable," he said.
"Getting a good start was very important today. I opted for the middle and it seemed to work."
Le Coq now leads Piotr Myszka (POL) by two points, with Mateo Sanz Lanz (SUI) in third.
Racing continues tomorrow at 12:00 local time (CET+2) with three more qualifying races for both fleets. After the concluding qualifying race tomorrow, competitors will discard their worst race score. Competitors will then be split into Gold and Silver fleets determined by overall positions.