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16 March 2007, 12:27 pm
RICHARD Leads The Way
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Marseille International Match Race 2007
Marseille, France

Home favourite and world #3 Mathieu RICHARD (FRA) got off to a flier at the ISAF Grade 1 Marseille International Match Race, going 5-0 on the first day of racing. The battle in Marseille got underway in clear skies and ideal racing conditions, with the French skippers getting the best of the opening exchanges.
Although very light winds greeted the competitors early on, by 11:00 and the start of racing in Group A there were clear skies and 16 knots of breeze. Racing started southeast of the Frioul Islands, with three flights completed in Group A and five in Group B.

RICHARD got the better of all five of his group rivals in Group B, whilst world #7 Eugeniy NEUGODNIKOV (RUS) also started well with a 4-2 score. Group A is also topped by France, with Damien IEHL (FRA) leading the way on 3-0. IEHL's crew were joined yesterday by Xavier ROHART (FRA), more commonly scene battling at the front of the Olympic Star fleet.

IEHL commented, 'This first day went really well! When we saw the weather conditions this morning we never thought we would have such a good time out on the water! Xavier ROHART joined us for the first time to replace Frederic GUILMIN. The crew has worked out really well - great communication on the boat, and Xavier who knows the bay well has helped us a lot.'

WITTEY Finding His Feet

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Marseille provides a spectacular
backdrop to the racing
© Guilain Grenier
Another good performance on the opening day came from Neville WITTEY (AUS), who at #100, is the lowest Ranked skipper in Marseille. At last weekend ISAF Grade 3 Y's Cup he did not win a single match, but showed he was getting to know the bay by winning two out of three of his matches on Thursday, including taking the scalp of world #2 and current leader of the World Championship Standings, Ian WILLIAMS (GBR).

The last two flights of Group A will be the first thing on the menu this morning, before the bottom three in each group fights it out in the play-offs. Weather permitting, the quarter-finals will then get underway.

The 'Regatta in sight' programme took over 450 schoolchildren out on to the water yesterday to watch the racing on specially laid on motorboats. Some of the kids were even lucky enough to meet the skippers and crews from distant continents.

Sophie Claudon (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Action from day one:© Guilain Grenier
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