The fleet was stunned yesterday by the sudden withdrawal from the World Championship of favourites Sofia BEKATOROU and Emilia TSOULFA of Greece.
Following yesterday's race, Sofia, the four time World Champion and Athens medal favourite returned to shore with terrible back pain and unable to use her legs correctly. The recurring injury that has plagued the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year for more than 12 months was treated on scene but she was immediately airlifted by Medevac Lear Jet back to Greece for possible surgery.
This obviously throws the Greek chances of a home town Gold medal in Athens into crisis, but moreover, doctors are concerned about the long term damage Sofia may have suffered to her spine. We here at International 470 wish her all the best.
To today's racing news
Frustration for all concerned was the nature of the day here in Zadar for the finish qualification.
An 11.00hrs start was postponed as the morning 6-knots disappeared, only to fill in again, to tempt a race on both courses that eventually saw abandonment's. Several more attempts were unsuccessful as race officials re-jigged courses to the shifting breeze.
At 13.30 a storm swept in from the south bringing rain and 18-20 knots and set Race committees scurrying to organise the course while the breeze lasted. By 14.15 racing was underway on Bravo course, but it was apparent that the breeze was dying again. It was in this dying breeze that one of the men's fleets got their required sixth Qualification race finished. Although it has to be said that a number of protests have been lodged regarding the nature of the finish.
Alpha course was a little more unlucky, with the Women's Gold Fleet and last remaining Men's qualification fleet unable to complete a race in the vanishing breeze. At the urging of the fleet the AP over Hotel flags were raised to send the fleets back to shore to await the more consistent 'Bora' from the Nor-West.
Finally at 17.30hrs, racing got underway to complete the men's qualification series and to start the Women's Gold fleet finals. Solid and consistent 1-12 knots made for a very even start after a general recall in the men and the following Women.
Overall results show the Slovenian Women, Vesna DEKLEVA and Klara MAUCEC still in the lead by some 5 points to Brazilians Fernanda OLIVEIRA & Adriana KOSTIW and then the Swedes Therese TORGERSSON and Vendela ZACHRISSON who dropped a place courtesy of a 20th (Drop) in yesterday afternoon's race.
The Women's fleet is set for an exciting finish with 8 Non-qualified nations in the Gold fleet chasing the five places left for Athens. The Non-qualified Countries in the Gold fleet include: Brazil, Argentina, USA, Canada, Switzerland, Austria, Poland and Italy.
In the Men, Yevgeni BRASLAVETS & Igor Matvienko dropped a seventh yesterday, but still lead overall by 4 points. Moland & Andersson of Sweden jumped two places with a second today to be in second overall. Nathan WILMOT & Malcolm PAGE led two races on the previous day and yesterday only to have the races abandoned. Finally, in the completed race yesterday afternoon, the Australians scored a fourth to move to third Overall.
All countries in the Gold Fleet Men have already qualified for the Athens Games, so this will breathe new life into the Silver Fleet racing with the offer six places still on the table. Among the countries vying for the last Athens Spots are Turkey, Hungary, Belarus, India, Poland, Austria, Finland and Korea. All these countries are within 15 points of one another with eight races left to run.
So we are set to see Gold Fleet racing for both Men and Women in the morning. Full results are available on the event website at the address below.