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3 January 2007, 10:02 am
Clash Of The Champions
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Laser Australian Championships 2006
Hobart, Australia

Athens Olympic bronze medallist Vajilij ZBOGAR (SLO), 2006 World Champion and Sydney Olympic bronze medallist Michael BLACKBURN (AUS), 2006 Worlds runner up Tom SLINGSBY (AUS), World Masters Champion Brett BEYER (AUS) and Canadian Michael LEIGH are among a fleet of champions lining up for a final day shoot out in the ISAF Grade 1 Laser Australian Championships being sailed on Hobart's River Derwent.

They have emerged in the top ten midway through the gold fleet finals after a day of intense racing on a warm and sunny Tasmanian day, sailing in a moderate to strong north easterly breeze saw remarkably close racing. The gold and silver fleets will sail their final races tomorrow in the fleets of 45 and 44 boats, representing all Australian States, Great Britain, Solvenia, Finland, France, Norway, Canada and Singapore.

BEYER, from Sydney, set the pace in the tricky first race today, winning by just 2 seconds from ZBOGAR, a further 32 seconds to LEIGH, followed closely by BLACKBURN, Joshua CHANT (AUS) and Norway's Kristian RUTH, with SLINGSBY in seventh place.

With the breeze freshening to 20 knots for race two, ZBOGAR had a convincing 43 second win from SLINGSBY, who finished just 11 seconds ahead of BLACKBURN, followed by RUTH and BEYER. LEIGH slipped back in this race to finish 12th but is still in the running for a top final place.

SLINGSBY Leads Overall

After ten races in total and two of the gold fleet finals, the overall series leader is still SLINGSBY, from Gosford on the NSW Central Coast, on 13 points, just clear of BLACKBURN from Sydney on 15 points. LEIGH is next on 25.5 points, followed by BEYER on 33 points, RUTH on 35, James ESPEY (IRL) on 56.5 and ZBOGAR on 65 points.

Richard LESLIE (AUS) heads the silver fleet from Norway's Einar SUNDE and Tasmanians Rod CHAMBERLAIN (AUS) and Tim CUBIT (AUS).

Queenslander Greg ADAMS (AUS) won race nine of the Laser Radial championship but just three seconds from Tasmanian Ben PRICE (AUS), third place to the Mexican woman, Tania ELIAS CALLES. Australia's two top women sailors, Sarah BLANCK and Kristian WEIR placed fifth and eighth respectively. Following a fourth place in race 10, BLANCK draws level with WEIR for the overall lead on 33 points.

In the Laser 4.7 division, race nine went to Jonathan DAWES (AUS) from NSW, 9 seconds ahead of Tasmanian David FLETCHER (AUS), with Lisa LEICESTER (AUS) placing third.

Peter Campbell (As Amended by ISAF). Image, Michael LEIGH in action today:© Jane Austin
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