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26 May 2005, 10:18 am
Champions Return And Home Sailors Prosper
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Holland Regatta 2005
Medemblik, Netherlands

The start of racing in the ISAF Grade 1 Holland Regatta saw the return to the Finn and Laser fleets of current Olympic champions, Ben AINSLIE (GBR) and Robert SCHEIDT (BRA). Elsewhere the home sailors have put in strong performances and the pre-race favourites are living up to their billing.
Yesterday the Holland Regatta in Medemblik began with more than 1,000 entries coming from over 50 different countries.

The regatta sees the return of two multiple and current Olympic champions. Ben AINSLIE (GBR) and Robert SCHEIDT (BRA) are familiar faces to Finn and Laser sailors the world over, although neither sailor has appeared in the class in which they hold Olympic gold since winning in Athens last year. SCHEIDT, current ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year (an award he won for the second time last November), has competed, with some success in a couple of Star events but returns to the Laser here in Medemblik. However not even the return of a two time Olympic gold medallist has upset the form of Australian Tom SLINGSBY. Within the last four weeks the 20 year old managed his first victory in an ISAF Graded event and swiftly followed it with his second. He now leads the Laser fleet with a second place and two bullets putting him two points above SCHEIDT and Olympic bronze medallist, Vasilij ZBOGAR (SLO), who won here last year.

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Ben AINSLIE is back and
winning again in the Finn
© Clive Mason/Getty Images
AINSLIE has repeated his feat of 2000 and gone one better than SCHEIDT, to lead the Finn fleet at the end of day one. The two time Olympic gold medallist and two time ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year has made an impressive return, after time spent match racing for Emirates Team New Zealand, AINSLIE is back in the Finn for the first time since winning Olympic gold in Athens last year.. He is at the top of the Finn leaderboard thanks to a bullet and one second place. The other bullet went to Hyères winner Emilios PAPATHANASIOU (GRE) who lies second, whilst another Briton, Edward WRIGHT is in third.

Britain also leads the Laser Radial fleet, with Charlotte DOBSON (GBR) tied on points with Merel WITTEVEEN (NED). Just one point behind them is the winner of the ISAF Grade 1 Semaine Olympique Française in Hyères, Sophie DE TURCKHEIM (FRA). Krystal WEIR (AUS), Paige RAILEY (USA) and ISAF World Sailing Rankings' number one Keamia RASA (CAN) have all struggled to make an impression so far and lie tenth, 15th and 24th respectively.

A successful day for the British sailors also sees them leading the 49er fleet. Stevie MORRISON and Ben RHODES (GBR) top the leaderboard after an excellent start of two second places sandwiching a bullet in race two. According to MORRISON, 'We had some moderate and shifty winds so we tried our best to make the best of the conditions by keeping our options open. We are pleased to be leading after the first day, but are aware that it's only the beginning of a five day event.' Pietro SIBELLO and Gianfranco SIBELLO (ITA) are in second place and ISAF World Sailing Rankings' number one and Olympic bronze medallists, Chris DRAPER and Simon HISCOCKS (GBR) are in third. After winning in Hyères, Jan-Peter PECKOLT and brother, Hannes (GER) lie in fifth with a bullet in race three lifting them up the leaderboard.

After three races the Australian team, Darren BUNDOCK and Edoardo BIANCHI (AUS), jointly lead the Tornado fleet after three races with a 9,2,2 record. They are tied on points with Mitch BOOTH, who has had six top three finishes here, and his crew Herbert DERCKSEN (NED). A poor result in race two sees Hyères winners, Xavier REVIL and Christophe ESPAGNON (FRA) drop to sixth overall.

At number one in the ISAF World Sailing Rankings, Fredrik LÖÖF and Anders EKSTROM (SWE), started yesterday as one of the favourites in a very competitive Star fleet. They did not disappoint and head the leaderboard with a second place and a bullet. Behind them the Irish pair of Maurice O'CONNELL and Ed PEEL have also started well. An OCS in race two for nine of the 22 strong fleet is currently distorting the leaderboard and has put winners of the ISAF Grade C1 Star Eastern Hemisphere Championship, Robert STANJEK and Markus KOY (GER) back in eleventh. One place behind and also suffering from an OCS in race two is last year's winner in the Finn here in the Netherland's, Mateusz KUSZNIEREWICZ (POL).

ISAF World Sailing Rankings' number one, Kristin WAGNER (GER), won here last year and has made an impressive start, with two second places in the Yngling. Just behind her is the British team led by Sarah AYTON.

Ingrid PETITJEAN and Nadège DOUROUX lead the 470 women fleet by a single point from Marcelien DE KONING and Lobke BERKHOUT (NED). The French pair won in Hyères last month and so far look well worth their number one spot in the ISAF World Sailing Rankings. Siren SUNDBY (NOR) and Karianne MELLEBY (NOR) got off to a good start but 19 in race three sees them fall out of the leaderboard top ten.

The Dutch sailors on their home waters have put in excellent performances so far and occupy top three positions in five of the eleven fleets, and lead (or jointly lead) four of them. Sven COSTER and Kalle COSTER (NED) were runners up here last year and are looking to go one better this time round. They lead the 470 men fleet by seven points after three races. In second are Hyères winners, Gideon KLIGER and Ehud GAL (ISR), whilst despite appearing on the entry list, it appears as if ISAF World Sailing Rankings' number ones Gabrio ZANDONA and Francesco DELLA TORRE (ITA) are not competing this year.

In the Mistral men fleet Joeri VAN DIJK (NED) has made a successful start to his title defense and leads from the Hong Kong pair, HO Chi Ho and CHENG Kwok Fai. Hong Kong windsurfers go one better in the women's fleet, with CHAN Wai Kei (HKG) and CHAN Wai Man (HKG) tied on points in the number one spot.

Tomorrow the first races are scheduled to start at 1000 hours local time. Three races are planned for the Laser, Laser Radial, the 470 men and women, the 49er and the Tornado. The Finn, Yngling, Star and Mistral men and women are due to sail two races.

Femke van Straten/ISAF. Image, Robert SCHEIDT is back in the Laser in Medemblik:© MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images
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