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21 July 2001, 04:27 pm
Malte Phillipp (GER) takes lead at Worlds
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Leaving the dock for Saturday's race

Dragon Worlds

After six races, and with one more race scheduled on Sunday, Malte Phillipp (GER) retains his grip on the Worlds, taken on Friday from from Claus Hoj Jensen (DEN)
After 5 races, Malte Phillipp moved into pole position ready to wrest the World Championship Dragon title from Denmark's Claus Høj Jensen. Although Phillip was 'only' placed third in Friday's single race, he clearly led the overall standings.

"It will be difficult to beat him, but you never know what can happen in sailing," said a senior race official.

The winner of Friday's difficult race was Dane Frank Eriksen, whose overall standing is now third. Overall another German - Werner Fritz was in second position after Phillipp and Eriksen in third. Another Dane, Lars Jensen was in overall fourth place while German Harm Müller-Speer was a close fifth.

"It was a very difficult race today," said Principal Race Officer Christian Lerche, adding that the wind was a relatively stable eastsoutheastly as the race was about to begin at noon.

"We got started on a second attempt at 12.45. Unfortunately ten boats were disqualified under the Black Flag rule. On the second leg the wind backed and became almost southerly. And on the last leg there was almost no wind at all," said Lerche.

The Black Flag rule stipulates that no boat may be in a triangle formed by the starting line and the top mark within one minute of start. A Black Flag start is used to guard against too many false starts.

"It is extremely aggravating for the sailors when the wind dies down," said Lerche, who has full view of the course from the judge's boat and with the extended eyes of a small flotilla of smaller vessels.

"It was even more frustrating today for many of the sailors bcause the boats on one side of the course had wind, while the others didn't," he said.

Friday's race was, if possible, even more technically demanding than the previous days' racing, and comments from sailors bore the mark of frustration.

Even Danish skippers used to wind conditions in Danish waters found themselves in trouble: "We have had a difficult day. Suddenly the wind veered 60 degrees - and that wrecked it for us. And on the last leg the wind just disappeared. It was very difficult," said Dane Claus Olsen, who is currently 33rd overall.

What was difficult for Danes was even more frustrating for foreign sailors.

"It was very difficult. I was on the left of the course without any wind and could see those on the right race ahead with wind in their sails," said Phyllis Chang from Hong Kong. "You have to be in the right place at the right time - it's a question of luck," she said after hauling an impressive 11th position Friday despite having been doldrummed.

"This sort of race builds one's character," said Australian Ian MacDiarmid. "Anything can happen. You have to be lucky to get the wind when there's so little of it. But one can't complain about the conditions - it's like that in Sidney too," he said.

Frustration over personal performance and irritation over the course itself cause one Dutch boat to withdraw from the regatta Friday. Dutchman Pieter Heerema took his Dragon out of the water, mounted it on his trailer and drove home.

"We haven't done very well, and we don't like the way the course has been laid. It's not going to get any better and we have no wish to take part any more," Heerema said.

The preliminary standings from Race 6, which has just finished show Phillippe holding his lead and looking fairly sure to take the title.

Provisional results overall after 6 Races
1. GER956 - Malte Phillipp - 28.4pts
2. GER947 - Werner Fritz - 50.7pts
3. DEN317 - Frank Eriksen - 59.7pts
4. GER950 - Harm Müller-Spreer - 70pts
5. DEN298 Lars Jensen - 74pts

The 2001 Dragon World Championships end on Sunday, with the final race scheduled to start at 10 a.m.

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