Finland's Sari MUTALA hit the front after the first day of the final series at the Laser Radial Worlds in Japan, lying just ahead of US Olympic Champion Anna TUNNICLIFFE.
The intensity of competition stepped up a level at Karatsu, Japan today, with the gold fleet decided and the top 44 skippers who will contest the 2009 World Championship title now all racing together in the same fleet. Sari MULTALA
(FIN) excelled in today's breezy conditions to move into the overall lead, one point ahead of the ever-consistent Anna TUNNICLIFFE
(USA). MUTALA won the Pre-Worlds held here in May and showed that form in winning today's first race before a sixth in the next put her top of the leaderboard on 24 points. TUNNICLIFFE posted 2, 10 scores to climb back up to second overall. These two skippers have opened up a slight gap on the rest of the fleet with Sophie DE TURCKHEIM
(FRA) nine points further back in third overall, just ahead of yesterday's leader, Lijia XU
Karatsu, Japan turned on another great day of sailing with a warm, cloudy day, 12-15 knot consistent NNE winds and a half metre chop. The course moved slightly west today to counter the apparent right hand advantage. With some port end bias, the fleet was more spread down the line today at start time and all starts were clear. However there were still some who banged the right hand corner today, not necessarily with good effect.
In the first race of the gold fleet, race seven of the series, Evi VAN ACKER
(BEL) rounded mark one first ahead of Annalise MURPHY
from Ireland. MULTALA came from behind with some good downwind sailing to finish in first place ahead of TUNNICLIFFE in second, VAN ACKER third and MURPHY in fourth. Overnight leader XU did not have a good race (finishing 19th) but came second in race eight and now lies in fourth place overall. Marit BOUWMEESTER
from The Netherlands used the conditions well to lead race eight from start to finish, moving her up to eight place overall, just behind reigning World Champion Sarah STEYAERT
In the silver fleet Ashley STODDART
from Australia had a very convincing win in race seven, leading from start to finish. Wakako TABATA from Japan sailed well to finish second. STODDART's fourth place in race eight has given her the lead in the silver fleet on a countback from Laura MAERS from Belgium. Race eight was won by Claire DENNIS
from USA who improved from fifth at the first mark with Fanny LE SAUSSE
from France in second.
The organization for the Laser Radial Worlds has been superb. The tireless event organizer, Takao OTANI, with his welcoming smile, has brought the local team together to ensure that there is great racing and that competitors and officials have the opportunity to experience Japanese culture. Last night everyone was invited to Karatsu Castle for a traditional tea ceremony and other activities. Many of the sailors and officials were dressed in a yukata kimono, which they are allowed to keep, and two sailors entered in the fashion display. Karatsu Castle is an impressive structure built on a hill that overlooks the city and the racing area. The view from the top is amazing. Tonight is the midweek party at the venue.
Tomorrow a further two races are scheduled for the final series, with the second discard due to take affect after race 10. The final day of racing is Sunday.
Results - click here