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16 December 2007, 10:29 am
WRIGHT Stages Finn Fight Back At SIRs
Image of Tom SLINGSBY sailing
Tom SLINGSBY performs a delicate balancing act in the light airs today

Sydney International Regatta 2007
Sydney, Australia

The Ben AINSLIE versus Ed WRIGHT for British Olympic selection in the Finn class took a rather interesting turn this afternoon at the ISAF Grade 1 Sydney International Regatta.
Wafting breezes early in the afternoon shook up the scoreboard at the Sydney International Regatta this afternoon as the light air specialists came into their own, the good all-rounders became evident. Later in the day the storms arrived, with rain pelting down on the courses followed by thunder, heralding the start of the cold southerly change which brought more breeze for the later starters. Several of the Norwegian crews impressed in the light airs, whilst in the Finn fleet, Ed WRIGHT (GBR) made up some ground on his Olympic rival Ben AINSLIE (GBR) with a win in race 3 to AINSLIE's fourth place.

Originally scheduled for two races, the lone Finn race was sailed in light 6-8 knot shifty breezes on the Manly Circle near Sydney Heads. Race Officer Kevin WILSON was forced to abandon the first race attempt three quarters of the way through when, he says, "An eight storey tanker split the fleet in two. It wasn't fair on half the fleet, and I know some of the guys weren't happy, but I had no alternative but to abandon the race."

Eventually the Finns got away again, storms notwithstanding, and it was WRIGHT who hit the finish line first, followed by 2007 World Champion Rafa TRUJILLO (ESP), Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN (DEN), and then came AINSLIE.

Overall, AINSLIE still leads the series, just one point clear of the Dane, with a further five points to TRUJILLO and a third Brit, Giles SCOTT. WRIGHT is currently in fifth place, 13 points adrift of his Olympic adversary.

The Aussies did not have a brilliant day; Anthony NOSSITER (AUS) was best placed in 11th for tenth overall, to overtake 15th placed Brendan CASEY (AUS) on the tally board by one place.

On other courses, Sarah BLANCK (AUS) cemented her place at the top of the leaderboard after scoring a third place in the Laser Radial race 3. Looking down the barrel of her second Games, BLANCK, who has had some coaching from Sydney 2000 bronze medallist Michael BLACKBURN (AUS), is 13 points clear of nearest rival and Olympic campaigner Andrea BREWSTER (GBR).

Belgium's Evi VAN ACKER is next best, on equal points with the British girl. Tania ELIAS CALLES (MEX) is a further two points away, with a second British Olympic campaigner, Lizzie VICKERS, a further point adrift.

Sydney 2000 Olympic 470 gold medallist Tom KING treated the rest of the fleet to an exercise in how it's done today; steering in place of Elise RECHICHI, he and RECHICHI's regular crew Tessa PARKINSON came home third in race 3, scored in the 470 Men's event, being a mixed crew. KING has not steered a 470 for some years, but has not lost his golden touch.

New Zealanders Carl EVANS and Peter BURLING won race 3 of the men's today, but Nathan WILMOT and Malcolm PAGE (AUS) have taken the series lead with a sixth place. "We're comfortable with how we are sailing," PAGE said.

Yesterday's leaders, Benjamin BONNAUD and Romain BONNAUD, have dropped to fourth after a 26th result today. Dutch brothers Sven COSTER and Kalle COSTER are now second overall following their fifth place, with the French crew of Pierre LEBOUCHER and Vincent GAROS now third. The French are very strong in this class.

Israel's Nike KORNECKI and Vered BUSKILA lead the 470 Women's from youth sailors Stacey OMAY and Chelsea HALL (AUS), future Olympic prospects.

The Yngling keelboat series leaders remain unchanged after a further two races today. Krystal WEIR and Karyn GOJNICH and Angela FARREL's 3-2 results keeping them three points ahead of boats steered by Nicky SOUTER and Katie SPITHILL.

WEIR, a noted Laser Radial sailor, said this morning: "I'm enjoying my time in the Yngling. It's a very different sort of sailing to what I'm used to, but I'm getting there slowly."

Light Airs Reward Norwegians

In the Laser fleets, following a win in race 3 yesterday, Kristian RUTH (NOR) pulled out the stops to take today's race 4 in his group as well. Team mate Stian TUV (NOR) won the other group. While RUTH 22 - "I'm the oldie" - and TUV, 20, will have to sail of against each other for the Norwegian place into the 2008 Olympic Games, the two are good friends.

RUTH said the key to winning today's shifty light weather race, "Was reading the wind shifts correctly - and I did."

"We won because it was so light," TUV laughed. The pair has been in Sydney for the past month training for SIRs. "We've had only windy conditions in training, this was the first light winds we've sailed in Sydney," TUV said.

Whilst others vying for one vital place in their Olympic squads are not always so friendly, RUTH says: "It's better to be friends than not be." TUV explained: "It's better to train together and help each other to get better, and it will help which ever one gets the Olympic place, which is better for Norway in the long run." Both declared it was good to win a race, "for sure."

RUTH's result today has lifted him up into fifth place overall and TUV moves into 19th place.

New Zealand rivals Andrew MURDOCH and Mike BULLOT remain at the top of the leaderboard, but a lone point away are Andrew CAMPBELL (USA) and Michael LEIGH (CAN). Australia's Tom SLINGSBY finished 11th for 14th place in the standings; a big lift from the 37th place he found himself in this morning after being disqualified from a win in race 1 yesterday.

Roelof BOUWMEESTER (NED) came up trumps today too. Scoring a win yesterday, the Dutchman had a momentary lapse in races 2 and 3 to drop well down the scoreboard, but a second place today moves him up into seventh in the series, but he cannot afford any more 'oops' results.

"Today I got a good start. That's what I am practicing at SIRs, my starts. While I am reasonably happy with my sailing yesterday, I did make mistakes. Today was better," BOUWMEESTER commented after racing.

"I like to think I am a good all-round sailor, not guided by whether the wind is more or less. I'm still getting my head into gear here in Sydney, but my main goal is getting the good starting practice." All three sailors will next travel to Sail Melbourne for the Laser Asia Pacifics, and then it's back into NSW for the Laser Worlds at Terrigal.

In the small entry RS:X today, Jannicke STALSTROM (NOR) overcame Jessica CRISP (AUS) in both races to maintain her lead of the Olympic class sailboard. An Athens Olympian, the Norwegian finished the day with a bullet and a second, CRISP placed third in both races to continue in second place overall.

49er Racing

The 49ers completed two of their scheduled three races today too. Sailed right in front of Woollahra Sailing Club in teeming rain, the colourful Olympic skiffs found an exclusive piece of breeze.

With five races away, the Portuguese crew of Jorge LIMA and Francisco ANDRADE came good scoring victory in both races to lead the series by seven points from Nathan OUTTERIDGE and Ben AUSTIN and third placed Tomasz STANCZYK and Pawel KUZMICKI (POL), with a race drop in place.

In the Tornado catamaran, Darren BUNDOCK and Glenn ASHBY's (AUS) 5,3 results were enough to keep them in front of the game. Just two points behind, the British pair of Leigh MCMILLAN and Will HOWDEN are second overall following their first win of the series in the earlier race 4. Germany's Johannes POLGAR and Florian SPALTEHOLZ are third.

In the Youth classes, Amy KIVELL and Kate AULLICH (AUS) lead the 420 results from Matthew and Ben TAYLOR (AUS), Joel ROSE and Jamie WOODS (AUS) lead the 29er skiff from brothers Andrew and William CHAPMAN (AUS), Nicholas HOWE (AUS) leads the Laser 4.7 from Stephen COLLINGS (AUS) and Ben PRICE (AUS) leads the Laser Radial Men's from countryman Klade HAUSCHILDT.

Hosted by Woollahra Sailing Club, the ISAF Grade 1 Olympic and Youth classes event is organized by Yachting NSW and features top sailors from around the world. In total there are a massive 378 entries.

Full results can be found at the official website below once racing is complete. Racing continues on Sydney Harbour tomorrow, the series ending on Tuesday afternoon.

Sydney International Regatta - www.sailsydney.org.au
Results - click here

Di Pearson (As Amended By ISAF)
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