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14 July 2004, 10:51 am
The Heat Is On
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Splash World Championship
Nieuwpoort

Since last week the harbour of Nieuwpoort has been invaded by Splash and Flash sailors! Some came to compete in the Flanders Youth Regatta while others just sailed around to discover the difficulties these Flemish Banks are hiding!
Extreme tides, the waves breaking on the sandbanks and the shifty conditions!

On Sunday the big fleet went out for the first time to meet the black sky and north-westerly waves and wind! The race committee dropped the necessary marks which is quite a business! Two starting vessels, seven marks and a finish line. Not a job done in 30 seconds but the track was perfect! Almost everybody was at the start but some were beaten by the harsh conditions… Nice and easy start but a lot of sailors abandoned halfway through the race in order to keep the equipment ok or to hide from the competition…

On Monday the first races of the rounds robin qualifying started. They promised some good and steady north-westerly breeze but a local effect offered the sailors and committee a special day. Leaving the harbour at ten to start the first heat for Splash round three made a lot of sailors a bit seasick and gave the fishes a good meal. On the committee boat they kept changing the positions of the marks but after every buoy drop the wind decided to drop, back or veer! One of the starting vessels met an engine problem and couldn't be moved with a favourite site as a consequence! At 15.00h wind came back in the Northwest and sailing could begin!

The green fleet was dominated by Scott MORRISON (NZL) winner of the Flanders Youth Regatta who won both races followed by Grzegorz NADOLNY from Poland. This fleet knew some sailors on the course side! Laura MAES and Yannick LEFEBVRE were the best locals!

The red fleet knew a surprising and first American winner on the first race: Zack KELCHNER (USA) ended a long way up front but couldn't repeat the exploit in the second heat. David JESSOP (GBR) proved to be the best in this fleet and won the second heat. Wim MOULAERT (BEL) one of the Belgian hopes sailed very consistently!

In the blue fleet Jorne KNEGT (NED) one of the championship's favourites met with Anneke BOUWMEESTER (NED) and they occupy places four and five in the temporary standings! Xavier SEYNAEVE occupies the best Belgian place.

The Flash Class rankings after the first day showed a Dutch girl, Jessica CRUL leading before Joep VAN DOODEWAERD and Pieter ASSELMANS from Belgium.

On day two, a small push from the acores high gave the Flemish coast what it deserved, splendid sailing conditions with a north-westerly wind between 10 and 15 knots and a blue and sunny sky!

The race committee showed great efficiency and the sailors all started smoothly on their first race of the day. On the second race the heat was on and the committee had to hoist a black flag after general recalls! Even then a lot were surprised by the current and the fierceness of the competitors.

The first race of the green fleet was won by Ersin BUCKLEY (NZL) before Filip PIETRZAK (POL), Jorne KNEGT and David JESSOP.

Very strong Belgian results in the first heat on the blue fleet with Laura MAES taking second, Yannick LEFEBVRE fourth and Cedric AMELOOT fifth.

The red fleet was dominated by the polish sailor Grzegorz NADOLNY before Rikst DIJKSTRA and Rinse UBBINCK from Holland. Xavier SEYNAEVE from Belgium reached a beautiful fourth spot!

The Flash class is now largely dominated by Dutch sailors with Joep VAN DOODEWAERD and Jessica CRUL leading. The Belgian Splash founding clan from the family Asselmans lost a lot of ground today.

We hope to see more splendid sailing on the last day of the qualifying regatta's on Wednesday. Then the real run for the title begins, place your bets, it could be any ones gold!
Jurgen Bogaert (As Amended by ISAF)
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