TOKYO (Reuters) – Defending champion Charline Picon of France got off to a strong start in the women’s RS:X windsurfing class and Switzerland’s Mateo Sanz Lanz scored two victories in three races as the sailing program of the Tokyo Olympics got underway on Sunday.
The sweltering heat and weak, unpredictable winds at the Enoshima Yacht Harbour caused some problems during the day, with competitors forced to take shelter under umbrellas from the strong afternoon sun as they waited for the winds to pick up.
Competitors in sailing are awarded points based on their performance in a “low score” system, with the winner of each race awarded one point, second place two points, and so on.
The top 10 sailors or crews with the lowest overall score after the opening series of races qualify for the medal race, and with 10 or more races in each opening series, it’s still all to play for.
After placing 14th at the Rio Games in 2016, Sanz Lanz put himself in a good position in the men’s RS:X competition by taking the opening two races in changeable winds.
“The first two races were good, the third not so much. In the first two races we had between four and eight knots, in the third about 11 or 13,” Angel Grande Roque of Spain, who is in second spot in the rankings, told reporters.
As the day got hotter, Rio gold medallist Picon managed a similar string of good results in the women’s category, finishing first, sixth and third in her three starts.
In the women’s Laser Radial dinghy class, a strong performance by Germany’s Svenja Weger to win the second of two races saw her rise to the top of the standings.
After placing fifth in the first race, she leads with a total of six points, ahead of Denmark’s Anne-Marie Rindom (11 points) and Elena Vorobeva of Croatia (13 points).
Jean Baptiste Bernaz of France emerged victorious in the only men’s Laser race of the day, 12 seconds ahead of Finland’s Kaarle Tapper, with Hermann Tomasgaard of Norway coming in third.
Later in the day, the second of the men’s Laser class races was postponed due to what governing body World Sailing called “light and shifty” winds.
With a typhoon lurking off the coast of Japan and the rowing competitions already disrupted, the weather might be about to get worse before it gets better for the sailors seeking gold at the Tokyo Games.
(Reporting by Philip O’Connor; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)