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26 July 2007, 10:32 am
Stage Set for Thrilling Finals
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Laser 4.7 European Championship 2007
Dun Laoghaire, Ireland

Four race wins across the fleets for Croatia in Wednesday's heavy weather conditions at the set the scene for a battle royal for the final two days between a gaggle of top European sailors for the coveted crown of Laser 4.7 European Champion.
At the end of the four qualifying days yesterday the field was led by Russian star Yan CHEKH in the male fleet and Serena DE LUCA leads the females.

With the final four races scheduled for today and tomorrow - and the male fleet being split into gold, silver and bronze, absolutely anything can happen.

The overnight leader Yan CHEKH retains his position at the top of the table despite his lowest place finish of the series to date in the last race yesterday: CHEKH is new to the Laser 4.7 class: 'I only started last August. Up to that I spent 9 years in Optimist.'

Ashore at the National Yacht Club he commented: 'I think this championship is fantastic. We are getting so much good experience. I come from the Black Sea where the weather can be the same for many weeks. Here we are getting very different weather in every race!'

His team mate Ivan ZOTOV close behind - despite having a DNF in the difficult, windy last race: 'I think anything can happen in the last four races - Honestly, I would say any one of the top 7 or 8 boats can be champion'

The 16 year old also learnt his craft on the Black Sea and this is his first time in Ireland:

'We are having a very good experience - I cannot describe it - it's great with the huge fleet and different weather.'

The first race of the day was completed on schedule albeit in an offshore 10 knots of breeze which provided shifty conditions for the young sailors to master. Early afternoon saw the arrival of a squall, hitting 25-30 knots, which led International Race Officer Jack ROY to postpone the start of the day's second race by an hour.

Croatia's Tajena GANIC enjoyed the heavy conditions and with two race wins now moves up into the top overall rankings. However it is 17 year old Serena de LUCA from Salerno who holds the overall lead in the female fleet. Italian head coach Giorgia TALUCCI explained: 'We have a strong squad here - but the sailing is very competitive. The last race was run in heavy winds and it was more difficult for everyone.'

Staying in the new Royal Marine Hotel across the road from the clubhouse, the Italian Team is looking forward to the last two days of competition: 'It's been a very good event but the weather is a lot colder than we are used to in Italy.'

Serena was 5th in last year's European Laser 4.7 Championship and is currently in a strong position to improve on 2006.

About the European Laser 4.7 Championship 2007

Prizes will be awarded to the 1st male and female competitor as the Laser 4.7 Male/Female European Champions 2007. As a result there will be a separate scoring and starts for male and female competitors.

All female competitors will display a red diamond on their sail. The large male entry will be divided into 3 groups with results combined at the end of each race. Furthermore their races will be divided into a qualifying and a final series of races.

Racing will take place on Dublin Bay, with twelve races scheduled for all fleets from Sun 22nd to Fri 27th July. If sufficient races are sailed one or more discards will take effect. A practice race is scheduled for Sat.

Laser 4.7

The Laser 4.7 rig is ideal for younger and lighter sailors and acts as a stepping stone before progressing on to the bigger Radial and Standard rig. The Laser 4.7 uses a short pre-bent lower mast to maintain a balanced helm and a sail area that is 35% smaller than the Laser Standard, an Olympic class boat. One of ISAF's fastest growing youth classes, the Laser 4.7 is now spread throughout the world in over 55 countries and 6 continents.

Event Sponsors:

Irish Sports Council, Fáilte Ireland, Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company, Laser Card, The Royal Marine Hotel, Ballygowan, Slam and Renewco Energy.

Bernadette FOX (As Amended by ISAF), Image: Day 3 Action © Graham Gosling
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