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7 June 2011, 09:07 pm
Toughing It Out At Skandia Sail For Gold
Thomas Zajac and Thomas Czajka (AUT) In The 49er
Thomas Zajac and Thomas Czajka (AUT) In The 49er

Skandia Sail For Gold Regatta
Weymouth, Great Britain

It was a tough second day in the trenches for everyone at the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta, as race officers took the opportunity to catch up with the schedule. These are the hard yards, long days in tough conditions, and diametrically opposed to the glory moments of the medal race.
If yesterday was all about the subtleties of light air racing, today was all about fitness and technique in the building breeze and waves. Weymouth turned it on with sunshine and an afternoon breeze that topped out in excess of 25 knots on the outer courses.

Racing on the outer race course in the Finn was the current Olympic Champion Ben Ainslie (GBR). Ainslie answered some of those who doubted that he could win here in the breeze. Only Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) ended up accumulating fewer points than Ainslie. Gaspic's second and fifth place pulled him up to second overall and onto equal points with Britain's triple Olympic gold medallist.

Ainslie will probably be disappointed with his seventh place in the day's opening race, but as the breeze built though the afternoon to 20 knots, he will be much happier with a win in the second and final race of the day. Overnight leader Dan Slater (NZL) added another bullet and a tenth place to his scoreline, dropping him down to third. Giles Scott (GBR) pulled up two places to fourth, eight points off the leading duo.

Sharing the outer course with the Finns was the Star fleet. Four-time Olympic medallist Robert Scheidt - an old Laser rival of Ainslie's - is now sailing Stars with his Brazilian team-mate Bruno Prada. They also prospered in the breeze, adding two second places to their bullet from yesterday. Five points behind are two-time Olympic medallist, Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki (POL). Another two-time Olympic medallist Fredrik Loof (SWE), sailing with Max Salminen are 14 points behind the Brazilians in third. In a class that is stacked with medallists, current Olympic champion Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson started their climb up the leaderboard. A fourth and 11th place leaves them 12th overall after three races have been completed.

There was a surprise pairing at the top of the 470 women's leaderboard. Saskia Clark thought her Olympic aspirations could be over for 2012 when her former partner, double gold medallist Sarah Ayton, retired from Olympic sailing in February. But after carefully assessing her options, she paired up with Hannah Mills. Mills is a talented young sailor who had excelled at youth level, but not found the right partner at senior level. The pairing started to shine in Hyeres in April, finishing third in the World Cup Event. They now lead the fleet at Skandia Sail for Gold, having won two out of their four races sailed. Danish pairing Henriette Koch and Lene Sommer are seven points adrift in second after four races sailed, with Giulia Conti and Giovanna Micol one point adrift in third.

The 470 men are split into two fleets, Pierre Leboucher and Vincent Garos (FRA) won in Hyeres, the last World Cup event they competed in, and with a consistent 6-1-4-6 scoreline, are leading again in Weymouth. Sweden's Anton Dahlberg and Sebastian Tling lie second with Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic (CRO) one point behind in third.

The RS:X Women's Fleet had a fantastic day's racing in winds up to 20 knots. It belonged to Korzits Lee who placed two firsts. However Lee was closely followed in both races by Marina Alabau (ESP) and her two seconds bumped her up to the overall lead after day two. The Men's RS:X fleet were also out late, and New Zealand's Jon-Paul Tobin and the Netherlands Dorian Van rijsselberge's dominated their flights with two wins each. But a better performance yesterday puts Tobin ahead, with Taehoon splitting the two men after getting a couple of second places.

With Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) now competing in the Match Racing, there is no reigning Olympic champion campaigning in the Laser Radial class. Finland's Sari Multala has been crowned Laser Radial World Champion for the past two years, but now it's all about dominating at the 2012 Olympic venue. She currently lies third after four races completed, but only three points adrift of Evi Van Acker (BEL) and one point adrift of Marit Bouwmeester (NED).

It was the Laser Men who were out late this evening, as the race officers worked their way through the sub-fleets that have to race on this course. They all sailed three races to try to catch up their schedule, and the overnight leaders all slid down the leaderboard. It's now Austria's Andreas Geritzer in front, chased by World Champion and ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year, Tom Slingsby (AUS). The overnight leader, Netherland's Rutger van Schaardenburg was back to third.

The 49er's were catching air at times in Portland Harbour today, and it was the Italian pairing Pietro Sibello and Gianfranco Sibello that flew highest and fastest. They have finished first and second at the two World Cup events they have competed in this year and they are currently top of the 49er leadeboard from Britain's John Pink and Richard Peacock. The Britain's are engaged in their own internecine battle, with Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes in third.

The Match Racing completed the first group stage, giving us the Gold Group (Quarter Final) qualifiers. From Group A it was the Netherlands' Mandy Mulder topping the group with six points equal to - but winning the tie-break with - second placed Sally Barkow (USA).

In Group B, Anne-Claire Le berre (FRA) went through on six points, one win clear of Australia's Nicky Souter qualifying in second. And from Group C it was Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) going through with a clean sheet, and Lucy Macgregor (GBR) joining them with five wins.

On the harbour course for the Paralympic teams, it was the 2.4mR's turn to race in the morning, so they got a milder roughing up from the weather. It was the Netherlands Thierry Schmitter that took the day with two bullets to pull up to the top of the leaderboard, passing France's Damien Seguin - Schmitter's countryman, Rademaker remains in third. But it is Schmitter that is the current ISAF World Cup leader, and he was clearly loving the conditions, saying afterwards, "Sometimes it almost feels like you are in a washing machine. It makes you feel alive."

Once the 2.4mRs were finished on the Paralympic course, the SKUDs and Sonars took over, but not for long in the case of the former, only managing one race before being sent ashore in the freshening conditions. The race was won by Skandia Team GBR's Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell to creep one point closer to the overnight leaders, Beijing silver medallists, Australians Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch. The other Australian pair of Jamie Dunross and Rachael Cox dropped to third.

The Sonars had a better day of it, completing two races. The overnight tie between Australia's Colin Harrison and Russell Boaden and America's Rick Doerr and Brad Kendell was broken in favour of the latter. But both teams suffered a dramatic slide down the leaderboard to fifth and sixth respectively. The new leaders are Britain's John Robertson and Hannah Stodel, who tied the day with Udo Hessels and Marcel van Veen - both pairs had a first and a second.

Course Tracking: You can follow the tracking on the event website, www.skandiasailforgoldregatta.co.uk For Smart Phone users please visit www.mobile.tractrac.com

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