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16 April 2004, 09:25 am
Race to the Shore
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49er World Championship & Olympic Qualification Regatta

No racing took place on Day 2 of the 49er World Championships in Athens. Well, the only race was the one back to shore after the race committee postponed and sent the fleet scrambling back in to the beach before the wind increased any more.
When the two morning fleets headed out for racing it was blowing a perfect 15 knots, but the wind suddenly dropped to zero. The first heat got underway, but the committee decided to abandon it when the breeze shifted from NW to NE, and started increasingly rapidly to 30 knots.
As the Olympic skiffs ran for shelter, the new wind played havoc with the fleet, causing many capsizes. Coach boats worked at full tilt to get their teams back ashore before any serious damage occurred to bodies or equipment. It was great sport for the spectators, but that was about all.
Chris RAST from Switzerland said it was the right call to come ashore when they did. "It was getting dangerous out there," he said.

With no sign of the wind abating in the afternoon, the race committee eventually sent the competitors home, with all racing abandoned for the day. Many were relieved at that decision, still licking their wounds from a tough first day of qualifying on the previous day.

So the Spanish team of Iker MARTINEZ and Xabier FERNANDEZ maintain their position at the top of the leaderboard after three heats. Still recovering from a torrid past 12 months of injury, Martinez counted himself lucky to have avoided the nastier conditions of yesterday morning and to have sailed in the mellower 8-10 knot Red Fleet races of the early evening. "Our performance will depend on the wind conditions. If tactics are the main thing, then we are OK, but if the weather conditions are tough then it would be probably more difficult as we haven't trained much. We're not in perfect shape yet."

Martinez and Fernandez have yet to be selected for the Games, and this seems more important to them than repeating their World Championship win of 2002. "We will see what happens. We are planning to be in the top 8 to 10 here. But we will give 100 per cent for the Games."

Qualification races continues today before the finals on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
Camille Parrain (As Amended by ISAF)
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