Polish sailors have so far – with one exception – not played a prominent role in the Paris 2024 Test Event. The official pre-Olympic test event is taking place on the Olympic venue in Marseille. The best of the Poles is Maks Żakowski, who is in fifth place in the Formula Kite class and after three days of racing is in the fight for medals.
The Polish Sailing Association has nominated sailors for the Test Event in seven of the ten Olympic disciplines. They include both young athletes, who are described as the hopes of Polish sailing, as well as experienced competitors with a medal record in events of the world and European championships rank.
The regatta in Marseille started earliest, on Sunday, for the Formula Kite and ILCA 6 classes, so let’s start with the positives. Since the start of the regatta, Maks Żakowski (AZS Poznań / PGE Sailing Team Poznań) has been sailing brilliantly, doing well in both light and slightly stronger winds. The Pole only finished outside the top 10 in one of nine races, finished second twice and as a result is in 5th place overall.
– From the outside my results may look like stable swimming, but every race is a rollercoaster of emotions and my different ideas about this wind, which is very changeable and unpredictable. I sometimes make poor decisions on the race course, but I have the gas and am able to fix the consequences of bad tactical decisions. You can see that the rivals, who have trained here on this body of water for much longer than me, have an advantage. They know very well where the wind is going to come from, they are able to prepare for it, to choose the right side to go off at the front of the pack. We have more races ahead of us, I will do my best,’ promises Maks Żakowski.
In the men’s Formula Kite class, Axel Mazella is in the lead, while his compatriot Lauriane Nolot is giving his rivals no chance. Julia Damasiewicz (AZS Poznań / PGE Sailing Team Poland) is steadily making up for her losses from the beginning of the regatta. At the beginning of the regatta, the Pole got tangled up with her rival’s kite lines, had a painful crash and damaged her equipment. By the time she had recovered and adapted to her replacement equipment, she had lost a lot of points, but she sailed all her races today at a high level and moved up to 11th place in the overall standings. Promotion to the top 10 who will fight for the medals is certainly within her reach.
– Today was quite a crazy day. The judges cancelled the first race because there was a misaligned course. Then the wind got stronger and we had to swim ashore to change kites appropriate to the wind strength. I’m glad I sailed steadily and evenly today. So far, I have made small mistakes that cost me dearly. Today I avoided those mistakes and it was better straight away. I have an appetite for more, but it has to be said honestly that the stakes here are top. Nevertheless, I never give up, I fight until the end,” says Julia Damasiewicz.
Agata Barwińska (MOS Iława / PGE Sailing Team Poland) is not going to give up either, but it is fair to say that after six races in the ILCA 6 class it does not look good. The Pole, who has two European championship titles and a world vice-championship to her credit, was one of the favourites of the regatta. And she started very well, with a fifth place in the first race. In the next race, however, Agata picked up two yellow cards for so-called pumping and had to abandon the course. In the following races she sailed conservatively, fearing another card that would rule her out of the race. Today’s starts didn’t go her way either and as a result Agata Barwińska is in 21st place. Advancing to the medal race with the top 10 athletes will be very difficult. In the ILCA 6 class, multiple world and Olympic champion from Rio de Janeiro, Marit Bouwmeester (Netherlands) is in the lead.
Today, sailors in the windsurfing iQFoil class and the 49er and 49erFX classes entered the competition. Poland’s representatives in these classes at the start of the regatta certainly feel very unsatisfied. Both Maja Dziarnowska (SKŻ Sopot / PGE Sailing Team Poland) and Paweł Tarnowski (SKŻ Sopot) are outside the top 10 after four races in the iQFoil class. They are led by Emma Wilson (UK) and Nicolas Goyard (France) respectively. Three races were held in the 49erFX class. Aleksandra Melzacka and Sandra Jankowiak (YKP Gdynia / AZS Poznań) are in 13th place, although it should be noted here that for the PGE Sailing Team Poland ambassadors this is the first start after an almost three-month break caused by Sandra’s injury.
– I still feel the technical deficiencies resulting from the break, I don’t have full automatism yet, the buoyancy is missing, but the most important thing is that the leg is working as it should. We still need some time on the water to get it all back, so this regatta is a good opportunity to do that. We want to present ourselves at our best, but the peak of our form should come in August at the Olympic Classes World Championships in The Hague, which will be the first qualifying event for the Olympic Games,’ says Sandra Jankowiak.
In the 49erFX class, the Swedish crew Vilma Bobeck and Rebecca Netzler are in the lead after three races. In the 49er class, Croatians Sime Fantela and Mihovil Fantela lead the way. Mikołaj Staniul and Jakub Sztorch (AZS AWFiS Gdańsk / PGE Sailing Team Poland) are in 15th place. The Paris 2024 Test Event regatta will conclude on Sunday 16 July.