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18 May 2004, 09:56 am
Tight Racing Follows Postponement On Day Five
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Laser World Championship And Olympic Qualification Regatta
Bitez, Bodrum

After a one-hour delay waiting for two conflicting breezes to sort themselves out, the first day of finals in the Harken Laser World Championship provided some excellent racing.
For the first time all the top sailors sailed two races together in the gold fleet and, as expected, the racing was close and tough with mistakes costly. Good starts were essential as was a good first windward leg.

In an 8 to 10 knot wind the gold fleet got away at the second attempt under a black flag. Peer MOBERG from Norway was leading at the first mark with series leader, Robert SCHEIDT (BRA) buried in 15 position. The leaders went high on the reach whilst Scheidt went low and took 13 boats to get to second before starting the downwind leg. This included his closest rival in the overall points, Michael BLACKBURN (AUS), who started the downwind leg in fifth position. By the end of the downwind and next windward leg Blackburn had pulled up to first ahead of Moberg and Scheidt.

Moberg dropped to third on the second downwind behind Scheidt with Blackburn still in the lead. There was a twist in the end when Blackburn received a yellow flag penalty for a rule 42 infringement from the on water judges and had to do a 720-degree turn. As he did his turns Scheidt passed him, but not for long as Blackburn responded to pass Scheidt again before the last short windward leg to the finish. Behind, Hamish PEPPER (NZL) also passed Moberg on the last reach to finish third.

The wind increased to 13 knots average for the second race. Andreas GERITZER (AUT) started at the pin end and went hard left with Andre STREPPEL (BRA), these two rounded second and first respectively with Geritzer passing Streppel on the reach. Blackburn and Scheidt were playing catch-up in tenth and fifteenth position.

Geritzer extended his lead throughout the race to finish first. Behind him the battle was on for the runner up positions amongst Streppel, Hugh STYLES GBR and Patrick BERGMANNS (BEL). On the second downwind this group had been joined by Scheidt and Blackburn who both had good second windward legs and the group traded places in close racing on the downwind section.

At the mark Blackburn caught a wave and surfed through Streppel, Scheidt, Bergmanns and Mark MENDELBLATT (USA), into second. On the reach Scheidt passed Streppel, as did Mendelblatt. With no further changes on the short windward leg to the finish, the race ended with Blackburn second, Scheidt third and Mendelblatt fourth as each protected their hard earned positons.

With four races to go, the Sydney bronze medallist has reduced the overall lead of the silver medallist by two points and narrowed the margin to four points to set the stage for an exciting final two days.

Overall Top Ten

Pos Nation Name Total R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 R8
1 BRA SCHEIDT Robert 14,0 -6 5 1 1 1 1 2 3
2 AUS BLACKBURN Michael 18,0 3 -6 2 4 5 1 1 2
3 USA MENDELBLATT Mark 27,0 4 -25 3 1 3 4 8 4
4 NZL PEPPER Hamish 37,0 1 8 -29 7 2 5 3 11
5 AUT GERITZER Andreas 38,0 13 3 7 3 9 2 -16 1
6 SWE SUNESON Karl 52,0 6 16 1 2 9 2 -17 16
7 AUS SLINGSBY Tom 62,0 11 18 8 (dsq) 7 7 5 6
8 NOR MOBERG Peer 66,0 12 -26 14 6 4 6 4 20
9 GBR GOODISON Paul 71,0 (bfd) 14 2 2 12 3 6 32
10 RSA BLANCKENBERG Gareth 74,0 7 5 5 9 4 15 -36 29
Jeff Martin (As Amended By ISAF News Editor)
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