Shahar Zubari and Blanca Manchon secure lead of the 2009 in Tel Aviv

June 19, 2009 | Windsurfing

Blanca Manchon

Israeli star and Beijing bronze medallist Shahar Zubari tightened his grip on 2009 RS:X Europeans in Tel Aviv on Thursday whilst in the women's fleet the battle for victory tightened between the two Spanish leaders.

Whilst the leader, Shahar ZUBARI (ISR) has only to maintain consistency and sail conservatively, the battle for the minor places is just beginning to develop.

Olympic silver medallist Julien BONTEMPS (FRA) did not have a good day. Two 10th place finishes let Ivan PASTOR (ESP) through to take over second and gave João RODRIGUES (POR) hope that he can retake third place or better. Five points is the difference he has to make up to take second.

Behind them, realistically speaking, there are five sailors fighting it out for fifth place overall. Nimrod MASHICH (ISR) is the current holder of that position with Piotr MYSZKA (POL) just nine points back in ninth overall. In normal fleet racing, the gap would be considered too big but with the Medal Race counting double points for the top 10, MYSZKA must live in hope.

Especially in view of the fact that it will be impossible for MASHIAH to cover everyone. That would include Byron KOKALANIS (GRE), Alexandre GUYADER (FRA), Samuel LAUNAY (FRA) as well as MYSZKA. These guys know what they are doing so will be ready to exploit any possible opportunity on Saturday.

Sidebar: You will be able to watch the medal race develop on line. The RS:X Class will have LIVE tracking for the first time. Each sailor will carry a GPS unit numbered according to his current overall standing. This should make it simpler for spectators to do the maths as the race unfolds.

One thing is for sure, MASHIAH will be under pressure. He desperately wants to make the top five on his home waters.

At the top of the women’s standings, Blanca MANCHON (ESP) had her lead reduced by 40% on Thursday. Finishing sixth in race eight was enough to ensure that. Her team mate, Marina ALABAU (ESP) is the one to benefit. Now in a clear second place with a 13-point cushion these two will continue their private battle for supremacy and the gold medal, just as they have done all season.

No-one seems to be able to get on terms with these two. Bryony SHAW (GBR), bronze medallist at Beijing 2008, who must have ambitions in this direction seems a spent force here in Tel Aviv. Posting a 10th and ninth today after an 11th in race six before the rest day has put and end to any chance she might have had to mixing it with the all-conquering Spanish pair.

SHAW will now have to settle for the bottom step on the podium at best. Maayan DAVIDOVICH (ISR) now occupies that position even though she too posted a 10th in race eight. Two points separate these two from the Italian duo of Flavia TARTAGLINI (ITA) and Laura LINARES (ITA) who themselves are one point apart with their own private grudge match.

Realistically the only one to stand a chance of getting in amongst this foursome and pulling off a stunning last chance lunge for the bronze medal is Agata BRYGOLA (POL). She is only nine points off third which equates to five Medal Race places. She has to have a good last day on Friday to give herself any chance of pulling this off.

So with the Medal Race on Saturday counting double points and LIVE tracking being used for the first time, it looks set to be an exciting finale to this year’s Europeans.