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13 July 2009, 01:52 am
A Game of Two Halves At Laser Radial Europeans
Racing is underway for the Laser Radials
Racing is underway for the Laser Radials in Denmark

Laser Radial European Championships 2009
Charlottenlund, Denmark

The second day's racing at the European Laser Radial Championship in Charlottenlund, Denmark, was - to borrow a well-worn football cliché - a game of two halves.
If the super-shifty conditions in the morning race didn't suit you, maybe the steadier, stronger breeze of the afternoon was more to your liking.

"It was almost as if you were sailing on two different days," commented Danish sailor Maiken SCHüTT. Perhaps the schizophrenic day accounted for why so many of the leading contenders in the 96-boat women's fleet recorded one good score and one bad.

For example The Netherlands sailor Marit BOUWMEESTER came 16th in her division (which equates to a 32nd when you combine the scores from the two women's qualifying divisions), but bounced back with a heat win in race four in the afternoon. It was a very similar scenario for Finland's Sari MULTALA, the defending European Champion, who came 16th followed by a second.

France's Sophie DE TURCKHEIM was doing OK in the first race, lying somewhere in the top 10 but then: "My second beat went pear-shaped and I got on the wrong side of a wind shift. I caught some boats on the last downwind, but still only 14th at the finish." Some sailors are complaining of not having done enough training lead up to this regatta, but for DE TURKHEIM it might be too much. "I've come here from competing in the Med Games, and it's difficult to be racing very soon after a big event. But I'm glad I won the last heat because between the two races I was asking myself 'What the hell am I doing here?' But mentally I feel good again now."

It's doubtful that DE TURKHEIM's compatriot, Sarah STEYAERT (FRA), is asking herself what she's doing in Denmark. To her surprise the reigning World Champion finds herself continuing to lead the regatta after another stellar day. Just six seconds separated the top three across the finish of her first heat today, but the French woman took the winner's gun by a whisker from Sara WINTHER (NZL) and Paige RAILEY (USA). STEYAERT followed up that race win with a 6th in her next heat, leaving her on top of the rankings with a three point gap (after discard) on Finland's MULTALA in second overall. "I'm enjoying it," said STEYAERT, unsurprisingly. More surprising was that she said she'd still be enjoying herself even if things weren't going so well. After a prolonged break from sailing following a disappointing Olympic Games, STEYAERT is just happy to be back competing in the Laser Radial.

After the fourth race of the series was held this afternoon, the sailors were able to discard their worst score from their points. This will come as a relief to many competitors, although it means the scoreboard disguises an element of reality. STEYAERT would still be leading the regatta even if she was having to carry her sixth place discard, but beyond that the leaderboard would be different if the discard had not come in. For example, Charlotte DOBSON (GBR) and RAILEY are the only other two competitors to be counting all their scores in the top 10 so far.

So while the Briton and American may be lying in fifth and sixth respectively, they would probably rather have their score sheet in preference to the sailors just in front of them, who are all currently discarding a result in the teens. That's a luxury that they may not be able to hold on to if the next few days prove as tricky as the first two have done. DOBSON commented: "Everyone's putting in some quite big numbers. It's important to stay out of the big numbers, and not panic if things go against you. You're going to be on the wrong side of something at some point."

Australia's Gabrielle KING found herself on the wrong side of something in her second race today after a good first one, following a respectable fifth with a discardable 25th. "A mixed bag," she laughed. "Every now and then I like to remind myself what it's like not to get a good start. You just claw your way through, and have a nice little sail." A nice attitude to dealing with a difficult race. KING says she's having too much fun to get down about a poor result. "Copenhagen's a really cool city, there's so much going on, the waters out here are just great, really nice sailing, got a great competition, what more can you ask for?"

In the Men's 70-boat fleet, two bullets moves Zemke WOJCIECH to the top of the rankings, but still only two points ahead of yesterday's leader, the very consistent Greek sailor Michail ARISTEIDIS.

The Laser Radial Europeans is one of a number of high profile sailing regattas taking place in Denmark this summer as part of wider festival of different sports, called Denmark's Year of Sport. To do their utmost to ensure that their events are held to the highest possible standards the Danish Sailing Association is working with the support of the insurance company CODAN (part of Sun Alliance Group), to provide TracTrac tracking during the Laser Radial Europeans, Finn Gold Cup, EUROSAF Match Racing Europeans and 470 World Championship. The Danish Sailing Association has purchased 150 state-of-the-art GPS tracking devices, allowing races to be followed in real time over the internet.

Last year the TracTrac tracking of the Volvo Youth ISAF World Championship in Aarhus, Denmark was followed by nearly 30,000 viewers from 69 countries all over the world.

Full Results - click here

To follow the TracTrac tracking for the Laser Radial Europeans (starting from the second day's racing through to the finals) go to
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