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15 July 2001, 08:27 pm
Germany takes first place on first day
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Dragon World Championships

German and Danish boats dominated the top twelve positions on day one of the Dragon Worlds in Hornbæk, Denmark with skipper Malthe Phillip (GER) taking the day after an unexpected low pressure system brought fresh winds.

"We were lucky that the first race was today and not yesterday," said Principal Race Officer Christian Lerche - referring to Saturday's tune-up race which had to be abandoned for lack of wind.

Gusts up to 28 knots (15 m/s, 6 Beaufort) propelled Phillip into first and Danish Peter Holm into second place, while German Werner Fritz took third place. Winds were generally westerly around 10 m/s throughout the two-and-a-half hours Sunday's race lasted.

Starting three quarters of an hour hour late at 12.45 CET, after fifteen boats false started, and the start line - which had been too short - had to be lengthened. "The skippers must take the blame for the false starts - but we must take the blame for the short starting line and we will make sure that doesn't happen again," said Lerche.

Although Phillipp's lead was convincing, second, third and fourth place were taken within three seconds. Four protests were delivered after the race - a collision between DEN330 and DEN3 resulted in DEN3's boom being damaged. The resulting protest resulted in DEN3 skippered by Kim Christensen being awarded a 7th place. All other protests were rejected and left the top of the results table unchanged.

Despite the large, 77-dragon field - most of the international Dragon elite which is to compete in one race per day over the next week, were satisfied with the day's competition.

" We liked the strong wind but we think it's a very difficult course. We're very pleased with our new boat which is a Petticrow, and which we're sailing for the first time," said Bocci Aoyama of Japan.

"The changeable wind threw us off and we're not used to racing in such a big fleet. There was very little room for us to manoeuvre," said Britain's Patrick Gifford.

Referring to Saturday's tune-up race which had to be abandoned, several crews said the tune-up race would have helped them to get used to the Danish course.

"We would have liked to have had a full trial race to get used to the course. But nonetheless, we think everything has been very well organised," said Fred Imhoff of Holland who took at 23rd place.

Although Danes took many of the top positions in Sunday's race in their domestic waters - not all were happy: "Our crew was a bit too light for the wind and we had trouble seeing the markers," said Jens Loppenthin.
Julian Isherwood/News Editor
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