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12 April 2004, 10:31 am
French Dominate Practice Race
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Mistral World Championship and Olympic Qualification Regatta

Nicolas HUGUET (FRA-8) and Lise VIDAL (FRA-24) were the first to round the top mark in the men's and women's division in the practice race of the Mistral One-design World Championship in Cesme.
Sailors went offshore around 1:30 PM on Saturday to prepare for the first test of the Mistral Worlds. The weather conditions were sunny skies and a moderate but gusty breeze with around 9-13 knots from southerly wind direction. The race committee decided to start both men groups in one go but eventually hissed the AP flag seconds before the start due to big wind shift to the left. Still the men went off to see who was making the pace and to the surprise of coaches and race committee returned minutes later to the starting line. This dicipline was seldom seen on a practice race and showed how serious sailors were taking this practice run.

Therefore the women got to race first and a few minutes after the start the fleet divided into two groups each longing for to bang the sites which promised fresh breeze. Eventually the left side payed off and it was French Lise VIDAL (FRA-24) who rounded the top mark first closely followed by British Natasha STURGES (GBR-1) and the rest of the women fleet.

Meanwile the second start for the men fleet went clear and coaches seen their sailors pumping their guts out on their way to the top mark. Again the fleet separated and although the right side looked promising it was French Nicolas HUGUET (FRA-8) coming from the left side who was rounding the top mark with a comfortable lead followed by Fabrice HASSEN (FRA-1) and Sicilian Paco WIRZ (ITA-1) in third position. In order to save their energy for the days to come most sailors went home after passing the top mark.

Back onshore sailors relaxed at the rigging area on the beach site from the event host Altin Yunus. Chill-out music from DJ SERDAR from Power FM Radio makes it very comfortable place to meet and hang out before and after the racing.

Last night the opening ceremony of this year's World Championships took place at the pool side of the Altin Yunus at 7:00PM with free beverage and drinks for sailors, media and friends.

The first day of racing is today. For photos check out the event website at the address below.
Aline Siepmann
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