The Youth Olympic Games which have just recently been held in Buenos Aires have come to a close after a super week of regattas along the shores of Rio del Plata. The Windsurf Techno + 2018 titles go to Alexandros Kalpogiannakis (GRE) and Giorgia Speciale (ITA) who performed superbly in very varied winds under bright sunshine. The level is getting higher and higher with these youngsters who came from over 25 countries to measure themselves on the Techno+ board.
Of the three « sail » sports included at these Youth Olympic Games, organised by the Club Nautique de San Isidro, 30 kilometres outside Buenos Aires, Windsurf/Techno+ was the first to finish the 11 races required for an official Boys and Girls result, while the others (kitesurf and Nacra 15 catamaran) were still slogging it out. Actually, a great week of competition saw the racers tested in a wide range of conditions, as it should be for a One Design event at this level.
In the final boys’ race of the week, overnight leader Alexandros Kalpogiannakis finished in seventh place, his worst result of a fantastic week, but more than enough to see off his nearest rival, Nicolo Renna (ITA), who trailed in 13th place. Giving Kalbogiannakis just reward for his five victories earlier in the week, and the YOG gold medal to take home.
“I’m very excited about winning gold – I didn’t expect it, but I’m happy to achieve it,” Kalpogiannakis said. “The Youth Olympic Games have helped me learn to concentrate on every moment and to never give up. Next I have the Europeans in Greece, then I’ll take a holiday before training for next season.
So the silver medal went to the young Italian, Nicolo Renna, on the podium despite his 13th place in the final race. At just 16 years old, he had already won the Techno293+ World Championships in Liepaja in august. But obviously the YOG was another step up and, like Alexandros himself, he wasn’t expecting such a superb week’s racing from the eventual winner.
Finn Hawkins (GBR) finished off a consistent week’s work with a solid third place in the final race to confirm his bronze medal place. Israel’s Tomer Vardimon gave it all to finish second in the final round, but it wasn’t enough for a podium place and he had to settle for fourth overall.
Meanwhile, the girls’ competition was dominated from start to finish by Italy’s Giorgia Speciale, confirming her victory with a 17 points advantage over the equally talented French rider, Manon Pianazza (FRA) unlucky to find herself up against such a great champion. The final round said it all: a great start, took the lead and never gave it up, finished with a comfortable lead. A true gold-medal performance.
“This week was so hard and I’m so happy about this result,” she said.“Preparation was the most important thing; we trained two years for this championship. Now I will have one week of rest before I start training again, because next year I will start racing in the senior RS:X fleet.”
Frenchie Manon Pianazza took her rightful second place in the final race, and with it her silver medal. But behind her there was a battle-royale for the bronze medal, with lots of suspense all the way to the line. Russian rider Yana Reznikova squeezed home three places ahead of Israel’s Naama Gazit to claim the bronze medal, a single point ahead of her rival.
Giorgia Speciale showed once again that she is an exceptional rider and champion. At just 18 years old she has already won a hat-full of Techno 293 titles, and most recently the Youth World Championships in July, and the European Junior RS X Championships in August. Younger riders will be pleased to hear that she will be moving up to senior competition next season.
There are some great back-stories behind these Games. Stories of people working together, for a common goal, and winning medals…
For the Italians « two medals, that’s amazing”, according to Georgia Speciale. Before Friday’s final race she was feeling worried, despite her lead in the rankings. “I was pretty nervous, but once I got out on the water I managed to calm myself down and concentrate”. But she wasn’t “alone” out there. There was Nicolo Renna on the beach “We’re like brother and sister”, her team-mate and flat mate, who had just finished in second place behind the Greek rider Alexandros Kalpogiannakis in the boys event. “We both live and train around Ancona on the Adriatic. Every morning we went training, especially hard for these YOG, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We worked hard every day, pushing each other to the max…”. That kept us motivated and focussed in the build up to the Games.
Young French starlet Manon Pianazza won a silver medal. And had a whole family of history and support to help her do it. Big sister Lucie won a bronze medal at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing in 2014, and she obviously had to better that! And her brother Fabien had narrowly missed selection for the Argentina Games this year, despite winning the Techno+ Youth World Championships 2017 in Quiberon. The family force was very much with her!
With such a successful Youth Olympics and race season behind it, there’s no question that Techno+ is going from strength to strength, and that this new class is going to attract more and more 17-plus young riders wanting to compete at top level on Techno 293 boards.
Good luck to all our young champions, past, present and future! See you all in four years’ time for the next YOG, in Senegal!
Photo credits Matias Capizzano