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27 May 2004, 11:13 am
Racing Underway
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Monica AZON (ESP)© Peter Bentley

SPA Regatta

Yesterday was the first day of the ISAF Grade 1 Spa Regatta and racing got underway in unstable wind conditions of between 6 and 14 knots. Over 1000 sailors from 61 nations are in attendance at this twentieth anniversary regatta for the Olympic Classes.
The Mistral men, Star and Europe fleets delayed their starts due to the shifting wind and with temperatures of around 13 celsius it was quite cold out on the water.

The largest class being the Laser with 128 competitors, 16 of whom are ranked in the top 20 of the ISAF World Sailing Rankings. The Lasers are divided into two groups for the initial qualification series and no less than 14 boats in group two scored an OCS in race one, with twelve receiving the same penalty in the second race in group one. Three races have been completed and leading overnight is Zbogar Vasilij (SLO) with a second, a first and a third. Behind him is Anders NYHOLM (DEN) in second and Allan JULIE(SEY) in third. Those sailors penalised with an OCS and subsequently sitting way down the leaderboard include seasoned competitors on the Laser circuit, Karl SUNESON (CRO), Gareth BLANCKENBERG (RSA) and Brendan CASEY (AUS).

The Finn class is the second biggest fleet with 72 entries, eleven of whom are ranked in the top 20 of the ISAF World Sailing Rankings. It's no surprise that after two races there is nothing to separate the top sailors. The new European champion Mateusz KUSZNIEREWICZ (POL) is tied at the top of the leaderboard with Sebastien GODEFROID (BEL) with Jaap ZIELHUIS (DEN) just one point further back in third. Great Britain's Ben AINSLIE, the current world champion is languishing in 34 place after a uncharacteristic 14 in race one and then an OCS in race two.

The women's single-handed dinghy, the Europe has a fleet of 63 competitors and completed three races yesterday. The fleet is split into two groups and first place overall is held by World Champion Siren SUNDBY (NOR) who finished first in all three races. In second place is Petra NIEMANN (GER) with a solid second, second and fifth and Sarah MACKY (NZL) lies in third after finishing third in all three races. Sari MULTALA (FIN) also had a good day, finished first in races one and two. A fifteenth in race three however pushes her down to eighth overall.

57 teams are competing in the 49er class and it was a good day for the British teams of Stevie MORRISON and Ben RHODES and the 2003 World Champions Chris DRAPER and Simon HISCOCKS who lie in second and third overall after three races. Topping the leaderboard after day one is Michael HESTBAEK and Dennis DENNSGOE (DEN) who had a consistent day finishing second, second and fourth. The 49ers are also split into two groups and in an impressive field racing was tight with numerous teams scoring an OCS. Thirteen races are scheduled for the 49er.

The Mistral men's fleet has 58 entries whilst the women's is slightly smaller with 42. Both fleets have an impressive line up of past champions and top ranked sailors. Both fleets completed two races yesterday and in the men's fleet it is the 2004 World Champion Julien BONTEMPS (FRA) who heads up the leaderboard, followed by Marcus GALVAN (ARG) and Nicholas HUGUET (FRA). Over in the women's fleet Romy KINZL (GER) takes the lead ahead of Belgium's Sigrid RONDELEZ and Natasha STURGES (GBR) who took the bullet in race two. The winner of race one was the 1996 Olympic Gold medallist Lee Lai SHAN (HKG) who then went on to take an OCS in race two which pushes her down to tenth overall. A similar fate befell Faustine MERRET (FRA) who took second in race one and then OCS in race two.

The 470 Men and Women's fleet have 45 and 24 entries respectively. After three races two men's teams are tied on eleven points at the top of the leaderboard. Sven and Kalle COSTER (NED) posted a seventh, a third and a first whilst 2003 World Champions Gabrio ZANDONA and Andrea TRANI (ITA) finished fourth, second and fifth. Just one point behind this pair is Tomasz STANCZYK and Tomasz JAKUBIAK (POL). The women's fleet is also tied at the top by the Russian team of Vlada ILIENKO and Natalya GAPONOVICH who are currently ranked at number two in the world and Melinda HENSHAW and Jann SCHEARER (NZL). The home team of Lisa WESTERHOF and Margriet MATTHIJSSE are in third after adding an OCS to their excellent first and second finishes in races one and two.

The Star fleet has 43 entries fourteen of whom are ranked in the top twenty of the ISAF World Sailing Rankings. After three races the leaderboard is topped by 2002 World Champions Iain PERCY and Steve MITCHELL (GBR) followed by 2003 World Champions Xavier ROHART and Pascal RAMBEAU (FRA) in second and the 2004 World Champions Fredrik LOOF and Anders EKSTROM (SWE) in third. Only two points separate the top four teams and the fourth spot is occupied by the USA representatives for Athens Paul CAYARD and Phil TRINTER.

The Tornado fleet is slightly smaller with a total of 41 boats. After two races it is the 2000 Olympic gold medallists Roman HAGARA and Hans Peter STEINACHER (AUT) who lead after finishing second in both races. Newly crowned World Champions Santiago LANGE and Carlos ESPINOLA (ARG) are tied in second with Mitch BOOTH and Herbert DERCKSON (NED).

The Yngling sees a total of 27 entries, just under half of which are ranked in the top twenty of the ISAF World Sailing Rankings. Kristin WAGNER, Anna HOELL and Veronika LOCHBRUNNER lead overnight with a second and a first followed by Shirley ROBERTSON, Sarah AYTON and Sarah WEBB (GBR) winners of race one. Third place is occupied by Ekaterina SKUDINA, Tatiana LARTSEVA and Diana KRUTSKIKH from Russia who sailed consistently yesterday and finshed fourth in both races.

Racing continues today and complete results are available on the event website via the link below.

ISAF (Source: Event Media)
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