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18 April 2004, 08:05 am
Shaky Races In Close Fleet
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49er World Championship and Olympic Qualification Regatta

The first day of finals, held yesterday started with no wind and postponement. Racing eventually got underway in a light sea breeze (8 to 10knots).
Leaders Iker MARTINEZ and Xavier FERNANDEZ from Spain finished their first race with a 20 position but performed next races with a second and a first. Iker asserted "Everybody is bearing arms against each other to get the title. All the fleet is good and it makes it hard to sail." It is a tough fleet and Chris NICHOLSON from Australia was not really happy with his day: "It's a sign we haven't raced a lot before the Worlds".

Surprisingly the Norwegian team Christoffer SUNDBY and Frode BOVIM, who did really well in the beginning of this championship, dropped in the rankings. It is not just a competition to get the title but also one that would select a team for the Games. This regatta is one of the Trials for Denmark. Peter KRUGE and Jonas WARRER who were fifth overall yesterday, have now passed Michael HESTBAECK and Dennis DENGSOE.

But positions were always fluctuating. In fact Rodion LUKA and George LEONCHUK also started with bad races but managed to fight to get a third position. According to the coach of Germans Marcus BAUR and Max GROY, the wind was really shifty and it was really hard to see where the wind would come first. But it is mostly because, as said French Emmanuel DYEN and Yann ROCHERIEUX, it is a tight Gold fleet and every single mistake can make you lose your position.

In the silver fleet some countries still can qualify and are giving a last chance to their country. Sweden is now in front of New Zealand but only by two points. This fleet has been dominated by the Brazilian team of Andre FONSECA and Rodrigo DUARTE who were ninth at the ISAF World Sailing Championship in Cadiz. They were a bit disappointed by being in the Silver fleet but Andre Fonseca explained: " We sailed a lot in Brasil but our last regatta was Cadiz. Our only training partners have been the Portuguese that came to visit us for two weeks. The rest of the time we were alone. We thought going to Barcelona could be a good training before Athens but nothing happened there because of the weather. We started the season with a World championship..."

The Bronze fleet waited on the beach this afternoon and were keeping itself busy by learning 49er to some friends. They still have a smile on their faces. Among them Canadian teams who are planning to do the European circuit and are looking forward to going to the next Worlds in Moscow in 2005.
Camille Parrain (As Amended by ISAF)
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