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17 April 2004, 09:11 am
Windy Conclusion to Qualifying
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Series Leaders © Event Media

49er World Championship & Olympic Qualification Regatta
Athens

The Qualifying Series concluded in customary controversy yesterday. The scramble to make the Gold Fleet final of 25 boats always results in a last-minute flurry of protests, but today many of those protests were levelled at the race committee.
Some teams were given a five-point penalty for failing to sign in for racing earlier today, but when the signing-in papers went missing, race crews were understandably distraught at having received a penalty, whilst being unable to prove whether or not they had signed in correctly. With the 82-boat fleet divided into three groups, a five-point penalty equates to 15 points, a huge price to pay in such a tightly contested fleet.

Among the penalised teams were ISAF World No.3 ranked team from the Ukraine, Rodion LUKA and George LEODNCHUK. More crucially perhaps, a five-point penalty put the Irish team of Tom FITZPATRICK and Fraser BROWN right on the cusp of Gold Fleet qualification in 25 place. [Eventually the committee decided it would be simpler and fairer to cancel all penalties]. So if the positions stay as they are, then the Irish have guaranteed themselves a place in the Olympics this summer, along with Finland, France and Japan. This means that just one Olympic place remains available, with New Zealand and Sweden currently locked in a duel that will continue into the Silver Fleet finals of the next three days.

It was another windy and unforgiving day out on the water, with even reigning World Champions Chris DRAPER and Simon HISCOCKS capsizing in one heat. But they have only fallen one place in the standings to third, conceding second place to their Norwegian training partners Christoffer SUNDBY and Frode BOVIM, with the Spanish team still holding first place.

Peter KRUGE described the conditions as "crazy", but Pim NIEUWENHUIS from the Netherlands loved it: "Racing the 49er is great, all your energy goes into it. If you had a satellite that could measure the level of concentration, you would see a hot spot of activity focused on Athens today. You have to keep your eyes open to everything going on around you in these conditions, gathering as much information as possible."

There were some high-profile casualties who failed to make the Gold Fleet cut. Paul BROTHERTON and Mark Asquith finished tantalisingly close, just a point off the Irish, while the Brazilian team who finished ninth last year were five points behind Brotherton.

But the Olympic selection battle is alive and kicking for the Danes, with five teams through to the Gold Fleet. The Finals begin tomorrow (Saturday).

Top Ten After Six Races

Pos Nation R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 Pts
1 Iker MARTINEZ/ Xabier FERNADEZ ESP 4 1 1 3 1 -6 10
2 Christoffer SUNDBY/ Frode BOVIM NOR 2 2 4 2 -9 2 12
3 Chris DRAPER/ Simon HISCOCKS GBR 1 2 4 -7 4 3 14
4 Stevie MORRISON/ Ben RHODES GBR 2 -6 5 5 1 2 15
5 Jonas WARRER/ Peter KRUGER DEN -29 1 3 2 5 5 16
6 Rodion LUKA/ Georgy LEONCHUK UKR 3 8 2 -9 5 1 19
7 Christopher RAST/ Christian STEIGER SUI 3 4 5 -16 6 1 19
8 Tim WADLOW/ Pete SPAULDING USA 4 8 6 1 2 -14 21
9 Chris NICHOLSON/ Gary BOYD AUS 1 7 7 1 -11 6 22
10 Thomas IVERSEN/ Jonatan PERSSON DEN -17 1 9 4 4 4 22

Camille Parrain (As Amended by ISAF)
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