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17 September 2009, 08:46 pm
Last 100% Record Goes As Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta Approaches Its Climax
Frederico Alonso and Arturo Alonso of Spain compete in the 49er
Frederico and Arturo Alonso of Spain compete in the 49er

Skandia Sail For Gold Regatta 2009
Weymouth & Portland, Great Britain

The last 100% record of the Olympic fleet racing classes at the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta came to an end on Thursday as the event at Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy approaches its climax.
Skandia Team GBR sailor Paul Goodison, the Beijing 2008 Laser gold medallist, brought to an end Tom Slingsby's (AUS) impressive record of five wins from five races in the final Laser class race of the day.

With just two days of racing remaining, sailors in Olympic fleet racing classes will be battling it out on Friday to ensure they secure the top-10 positions in their respective fleets that will earn them places in Saturday's Medal Races. For all the teams, crucial ISAF Sailing World Cup points are also up for grabs as the first edition of the new series for Olympic and Paralympic sailors comes to a close this week in Weymouth. Tomorrow will also see the first medals of the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta won and the first World Cup winners confirmed, when medals in the three Paralympic classes are awarded.

Slingsby's perfect record in the Laser class came to an end at the hands of Goodison this afternoon. Up to that point the Australian's five wins from five had given him a discard of just one. But Goodison is unbeaten at international regattas since the Beijing Olympics, a run that includes the last three World Cup events, the European and World Championship. The British skipper overcame the discomfort of a shoulder injury to beat the Australian in the sixth race of the series. Slingsby had to settle for runners-up spot and still leads the fleet.

"I've had a pretty bad shoulder injury, and I shouldn't really be sailing, but I wanted to try to learn as much as possible about the course ready for 2012," said Goodison. "After winning every regatta I've been in this year, it's hard knowing I'm not going to challenge, but it was nice to take a win from Tom today.

"I've struggled a bit in the strong winds this week, but it was nice this afternoon because the breeze dropped a little bit.

"For me the whole week is about trying to learn as much as I can about the course with so many boats on it. You can train here with small groups of boats, but with 50 boats sailing hard, you get a much better picture of what's happening."

Slingsby said he's enjoying the racing at Weymouth and Portland, despite that defeat. "I'm enjoying the venue very much, so far so good," he said. "The breeze direction seems to suit my sailing style.

"I've had my conditions, good speed and good luck, and some of the competition have been unlucky with a few shifts.

"If I have two bad ones tomorrow, I could still fall back a bit - I think the points are still reasonably close. I'd like to have a nice lead going into the medal race though."

Another Brit, Nick Thompson, World Cup leader, has climbed to second in the class. He is 15 points behind Slingsby.

Finland's Sari Multala continues to dominate the Laser Radial class. She was fourth and fifth today and leads by five points from France's Sarah Steyaert. Marit Bouwmeester (NED) won both of today's races to make it four in a row. She climbed from 40th to 15th on the second day of racing and followed that up by soaring up to third today. Britain's Charlotte Dobson was second in the final race of the day and remains fifth.

Brazil's Ricardo Santos sailed a bit closer to taking gold in the RS:X class, with second and fourth place finishes in today's races. That gave him the luxury of being able to discard his fourth.

But Portugal's World Cup leader João Rodrigues is still in the hunt. He finished fourth in the first race of the day and then won the second - the gap between the two great friends has extended by a single point to six, with Santos on 14 and Rodrigues on 20. Julien Bontemps (FRA) is third on 24, with Richard Hamilton the highest place Brit in eighth on 63. Andreas Cariolou of Cyprus scored a 1 and 2 today to climb into the top four.

Santos, who excelled in the strong winds of Tuesday and Wednesday, said, "Now there's less wind, the fleet are a bit more together. Everybody had good speed today.

"I've got good points, but Joao [Rodrigues] is still close to me. My worst result is a fourth, so I've got a good discard. I think I need one more good race and a good medal race."

In the Women's RS:X competition, Skandia Team GBR's Bryony Shaw closed the gap on Blanca Manchon (ESP) from nine to six points. Shaw finished fifth in the first race and won the second, while the Spaniard, who has already secured this year's World Cup title, finished sixth and failed to finish the last race, scoring 28, which she can discard. Jessica Crisp of Australia won her first race of the regatta in the penultimate race of the day, climbing from eighth to sixth.

It was a mixed day for the Skandia Team GBR crew Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson in the Star class. They crossed the start line too early in the first race and were awarded a 20th place, but followed that up by winning the second race and finishing fourth in the third. They stretched their leads at the head of the fleet from seven points to 11.

Sweden's Fredrik Loof and Johan Tillander climbed to second with a 1, 3 and 6. John Gimson and Ed Greig (GBR) finished third in the first race of the day, but followed that up with 13th and 15th and are seventh overall. Flavio Marazzi and Enrico De maria (SUI) won the third race and are sixth overall.

Nic Asher and Elliot Willis (GBR) finished third and second in today's 470 races to move to the top of the leaderboard. They have a one-point lead over Australia's Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page, who were seventh and 10th today. Britain's Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell are a further two points behind in third on 14.

Willis said, "It's been a weird day, the wind dropped off quite a bit in the day. The first race was pretty windy and not that shifty, but it got pretty shifty as it heated up. People's results were all over the place, which is good for us. There were some pretty big discards today. We sailed pretty conservatively today, we weren't on too many edges.

"We had a disappointing worlds the other week which put a lot of focus on this regatta for us."

Asher added, "Competition is really high with all the top guys here so it's good to beat them and even better here at the Olympic venue. It's looking good at the moment."

New Zealand's Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie continue to lead the women's 470 fleet, but had a disappointing day with 13th and 14th place finishes. Their lead over Yuka Yoshisako and Noriko Okuma of Japan has been cut from 17 to just four points. Today's races were won by Giulia Conti and Giovanna Micol (ITA) and Emmanuelle Rol and Hélène Defrance (FRA). Britain's Pippa Wilson and Saskia Clark are sixth, with two seventh places today.

Croatia's Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic, the European champion, has climbed to the top of the leaderboard in the Finn class with a 2 and 3 today.

Britain's Ed Wright, who already is assured of the Finn World Cup title, achieved a 1 and 7, which saw him climb to second. Another Brit, Giles Scott, had started the day in first, but dropped down to fifth after finishing 16th and eighth.

The last racing of the day featured the 49er class. Australia's Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen continue to lead the class. They scored 11, 2 and 1. The Italian brothers Pietro Sibello and Gianfranco Sibello continued to battle their way through the fleet, climbing from fourth to second, with two wins and a fourth today. They trail the Aussies by 17 points. Paul Brotherton and Mark Asquith head the British challenge - they are currently fifth.

The Match Racing moves to the quarter-final stage on Friday, when crews skippered by Lucy Macgregor (GBR) and Mary Rook (GBR), Katie Spithill (AUS) and Lucinda Whitty (AUS), Anna Tunnicliffe (USA), Claire Leroy (FRA), Renee Groeneveld (NED) and Anna Kjellberg (SWE) will battle it out.

Friday will see the first medals of the 2009 Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta awarded when the three Paralympic classes reach their climax. USA and British crews are battling it out in the Sonar and SKUD18 classes.

Rick Doerr's USA crew are well-placed in the Sonar class, having won four of the five races. "It's going well," said Doerr. "We have all three Paralympic Games medallists here and these guys are fierce competitors.

"This is the lead-up to the Paralympics, so the more racing we can get in the better. We can sail in national competitions when we're back Stateside, but the litmus test is to come here and sail against the guys who will be at he Paralympic Games.

"We're feeling pretty good where the boat is now," added Doerr, who is joined in the crew by Hugh Freund and Maureen Mckinnon-Tucker.

The British crew of John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas are second. They achieved a 3, 2 and 4 today and are five points behind the Americans on nine.

Stodel said, "It's really tight on our course. It's between us and the Americans in top spot. We're just going to sail our own race and hope for the best."

In the SKUD18 class, Scott Whitman and Julia Dorsett of the USA continue to lead the fleet from Britain's Alex Rickham and Niki Birrell, but by just a single point. Both crews won one race and finished second in the other today.

Rickham said, "Generally everything is on track for us. We're fighting it out with the Americans to win the event and at the moment they have the upper hand.

"We're still neck and neck and that with them and that's all we're focusing on."

France's Damien Seguin leads the 2.4mR fleet going into the final day of competition in the Paralympic classes. He won two of today's races and finished second in the other. Thierry Schmitter of The Netherlands is second and only a point behind.

Britain's World Cup leader Megan Pascoe is fourth with a 2, 10 and 6 in today's races.

She said, "My target is to win a medal here. I've had some bad times and some good times, but overall it's been quite good. It's nice to have been quite consistent.

"It's a really, really good fleet - we've got the best in the world here and it's nice to show we can do well at our home venue."

The action continues on Friday through until the Medal Races in Weymouth this Saturday.

ISAF Sailing World Cup

The ISAF Sailing World Cup 2008-2009 consists of the following events:

16-21 Dec 2008 - Sail Melbourne The Asia Pacific Regatta, Melbourne, Australia
25-31 Jan 2009 - US SAILING's Rolex Miami OCR, Miami, USA
4-10 April 2009 - Trofeo SAR Princess Sofia MAPFRE, Palma, Spain
18-24 April 2009 - Semaine Olympique Francaise, Hyeres, France
27-31 May 2009 - Delta Lloyd Regatta, Medemblik, Netherlands
20-28 June 2009 - Kieler Woche, Kiel, Germany
14-19 Sept 2009 - Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta, Weymouth, Great Britain

Find out more about the ISAF Sailing World Cup, including the World Cup Standings, more on the seven events, the scoring system and the Notice of Series at www.sailing.org/isafsailingworldcup.

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