The Trials got underway today and racing could not have been tighter. After three races one point separates the top three sailors and each race saw a different race leader.
The 40 Laser sailors are battling it out for the final sailing place in Team GB for the 2004 Olympic Games this summer, and racing got off to a great start at the Weymouth and Portland Sailing Academy with three of the eleven scheduled races completed.
With the wind averaging 16-20 knots and at times gusting over 25 knots, the race committee decided to race the sailors inside the harbour providing a great spectacle from the shore.
Each of the three races saw a different leader, with Dan HOLMAN from Torpoint Mosquito Sailing Club getting out of the starting blocks quickly to win the first race from Mark Powell of Hayling Island Sailing Club.
Holman commented, "I am really pleased with the day I had. The conditions have been quite tough but I am happy that I got three consistent results in at this early stage."
The tables turned in race two, which saw Hugh STYLES from Downs Sailing Club, who only started competing in the Laser last October after missing out on Olympic selection in the Tornado class, take the race win from Ulley Sailing Club member Paul GOODISON, with Holman finishing third.
Goodison, fresh from success at the Miami Olympic classes regatta, showed good form in race three. He rounded the second windward mark just behind Styles but ploughed through downwind to take the lead and his first race win of the regatta. Mark POWELL just came through to take second place from Styles who finished third.
Goodison commented, "It has been a tiring day today and in these conditions everyone is going at a very similar pace so it is difficult to get a speed advantage and overtake people. I didn't have a very good first race, but am pleased with a second and a first in the other two."
After three races consistency paid off and with a two-four-two score line, Powell leads by one point from Goodison, who is tied on nine points with Holman.
The event also incorporates the selection for the 2004 ISAF Youth World Championships, and there was a similar battle in the youth fleet. Nick THOMPSON from the Royal Lymington Yacht Club currently leads the youth fleet and is placed eighth overall, with nearest rival Stephen POWELL from Hayling Island Sailing Club four points behind in tenth place overall.
RYA Olympic Manager and Event Director Stephen PARK commented, "With an eleven race series and one discard, I am pretty sure it will come down to the last race of the regatta. The sailors today had a really good battle and with just one point separating the first three sailors, it is very close and I am convinced that the competitors are going to have some very tight racing this week."
The event continues through until the 8 April (if all eleven races are completed), full results are available on the RYA website at the address below.