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28 May 2004, 01:07 pm
Day Four
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Laser Masters World Championship

The fleet had two more exciting races today in the Harken Lasers Masters Championship in Bitez, Turkey. The offshore winds at times gusted 30-knots at the end of the first race before settling back to an average of 20 knots for the second race.
Colin DIBB from Australia was the only sailor to achieve two firsts places in any fleet. Sailing in the Masters fleet, who were first to start on a daily rotating system he did not have it all his own way. In the first race Jack SCHLACHTER (AUS) was first to show but was overtaken by Dibb at the first downwind mark. Schlachter took Dibb on the upwind but blew his chances on the next downwind after three further swims.

The first lap in the second race was closer than the first. Tracy Usher (USA) benefited from a right hand shift on the first beat to lead the fleet around the first mark with Dibb and Schlachter in close pursuit. Dibb again showed good speed to take the lead at the end of the second beat followed closely by Usher and Schlacter. Dibb extended on the second downwind for a comfortable first from Schlachter and Andre MARTIN from the Dominican Republic.

In the Grand Masters first race Rob LOWNDES (AUS) and series leader Mark BETHWAITE (AUS) led from the start. On the first run Bethwaite capsized to miss a Master sailor on the beat and then headed for the wrong gate! Lowndes gybed and could not see the second boat as he rounded the bottom mark after carnage on the run. For the third race in a row it was AUS 1,2,3 with Lowndes leading home David EDMISTON and then Frank WALSH.

In race two, Bethwaite made amends by leading after mixing it with Bob BLAKEY (NZL) and Uwe CLAUSEN (GER) who got a big lift out of the right hand side. Bethwaite won comfortably from Clausen followed by former Finn Gold Cup winner Magnus OLSEN (SWE).

The Radial Fleet was third to start and in both races were recalled. In the first race lady master, Lyndall PATTERSON (AUS) in the masters division, again showed the men the way rounding the first mark inside fellow Radial Master Goran BONACIC (CRO) and Apprentice Aydin YURDUM (TUR). Squeezing the inside berth cost Patterson her lead when she hit the mark, had to do a 360 turn and then capsized. Yurdum took over the lead, which he held to the finish ahead of Bonacic. In the lighter winds of the second race Bonacic got his revenge to take the winning gun after passing David EARLY (HKG) in the second half of the race.

In race one of the Apprentice fleet, Brett BEYER (AUS) led around the first mark, but unfortunately for him located mark three instead of mark four and lost around ten places. By the time he realised his error he eventually finished in seventh place. This left a tight group of five boats dicing for the lead on the second upwind beat and runs to the finish. Mati SEPP (EST) led at the windward mark the second time from Nick WALSH (IRL) and Martin LEHNER (AUT) however, a capsize at the gybe mark cost Sepp the lead. Walsh eventually won the race from Lehner with Hugh LEICESTER (AUS) taking third in a close finish, the top five boats crossing the line within 25 seconds of each other.

In the second race, Beyer and Leicester held onto starboard tack coming out of the start longer than the rest of the fleet and found a shift to the left to be equal leaders at the top mark, with Lehner rounding third. Positions remained the same on the run but Lehner rounded the opposite gate to the leaders and picked up a shift from the right to take second place. From there, positions remained the same with Beyer beating Lehner then Leicester.

Two days racing remain and if completed a second discard will allowed. Full results are available on the event website at the address below.
Jeff Martin (As Amended By ISAF News Editor)
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