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29 July 2009, 02:58 pm
XU Moves Top At Laser Radial Worlds
Anna TUNNICLIFFE of the USA
Anna TUNNICLIFFE ties for the lead after two days in Japan

Laser Radial World Championship 2009
Karatsu, Japan

Chinese Olympic medallist Lijia XU jumped to the top of the leaderboard after a star showing on the second day at the Laser Radial Worlds in Japan.
Lijia XU (CHN) had a mixed opening day with a sixth and a 30th, but in today's extremely varied conditions she excelled in both races to move to the top of the leaderboard, tied on points with Beijing gold medallist Anna TUNNICLIFFE (USA). First and second place finishes, combined with the introduction of the discard after race four of the series, put XU top on nine points, the same score as TUNNICLIFFE who was typically consistent with 3, 5 scores today. Denmark's Alberte LINDBERG (DEN) occupies third overall, just ahead of Sari MULTALA (FIN), winner of the pre-Worlds here in May, who impressed today with a first and a third place.

It was a tough day on the water for all 87 competitors from 30 nations competing in Japan. After being kept ashore because of concerns about thunder storms, a clearance was given to head to the water and racing started at 12:05 in 11-12 knots. Like yesterday a shift to the right caused a postponement for the blue fleet and a course change to straighten the outer loop for the yellow fleet. Race three for the yellow fleet provided the only OCS of the day. Conditions became very tricky for the sailors in race three as the sea built to a two metre swell and a decreasing breeze of only 6 to 7 knots. It was very difficult to catch the enticing waves. Despite some intervention by the Race Committee to decrease the length of the legs the sailors would have been pleased to see the end of a somewhat longer race.

In these difficult conditions race wins went to MULTALA, who came in just ahead of XU in the yellow fleet, and to Singapore's Victoria CHAN. In contrast race four started in the lighter breeze that increased steadily during the race with 20 knot gusts by the end. This gave exciting conditions for the sailors with big gains to be made for those who knew how to catch the waves. XU excelled in the heavier breeze to score her first win of the series and jump into the overall lead. Denmark's Maiken SCHUTT also posted a win. Reigning World Champion Sarah STEYAERT (FRA) also enjoyed the stronger winds to drag herself drag into contention with a second place finish moving her up to ninth overall, just two points and two places behind teammate Sophie DE TURCKHEIM (FRA).

The varied conditions so far in Karatsu have resulted in a high scoring start to the regatta with virtually all of the top names posting at least one high score to date. The only skipper bucking that trend is the ever-consistent TUNNICLIFFE, who's showing the form that won her gold in Beijing and puts her on top in the current ISAF Sailing World Cup. With four top-five places she looks in a very strong position at this early stage.

Last night the inaugural Laser Café Twilight Race was held in the water close to the boat park. Takao Otani, the Radial Worlds Event Organizer, gave an amazing running commentary for the assembled company that included some local dignitaries. Spectators lined the marina to cheer the sailors on. Veronika FENCLOVA from the Czech Republic took out the race from Watanabe the local hero. Jean Luc MICHON, the Laser class Vice-President and member of the Jury sailed a good race to finish fourth in a fleet of 14 boats. A second race is to be held tonight.

Two races are scheduled for tomorrow.

Results - click here

ISAF (source: John Parrish)
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