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22 August 2007, 05:01 am
Medal Races To Come
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It was another sunny day in Qingdao

Qingdao International Regatta 2007
Qingdao, China

After another tricky and eventful day on the water, the Medal Races are upon us in Qingdao, with eight gold medals set to be decided tomorrow at the Good Luck Beijing Olympic Test Event.
The sun was bright and there were ripples on Fushan Bay this morning. Trying to get in as many races as possible, everybody except the 49ers mobilized for a 12:00 start. The cumulous clouds built over land. The local forecast predicted 5 knots of breeze from 100 degrees at noon and the current to be slack.

The first class to postpone and head back in was the RS:X at noon, whilst the remaining fleets remained out on the water.

As 13:00 approached, the Lasers and Laser Radials were sent in to shore to wait for the wind to settle down and fill in also. At the same time, out on area E, further to the east, the Stars set off on a two-lap windward-leeward race.

Classes stayed out on the furthest courses to the east. When the breeze filled in at 130 degrees and 6 knots, the Stars, Tornados, Finns and Ynglings were the first to get the ball rolling for the day and try to get as many races in as possible before the start of the Medal Races tomorrow.

Yuan Guo ZHOU (CHN) will carry home hopes on his shoulders tomorrow after another terrific performance in the RS:X Men's fleet. He lines up in the first scheduled Medal Race on area B with a seven-point lead over Tom ASHLEY (NZL) and with Julien BONTEMPS (FRA) a distant third. ZHOU scored a third today's opening race, won by Fabian HEIDEGGER (ITA), before posting his fourth bullet of the series in race 6. China won gold in the RS:X Men at last year's test event thanks to youngster Zhennan FANG and in 2007 week the more experienced ZHOU has been equally as impressive.

Athens gold medallist Faustine MERRET (FRA) earned herself her third bullet in the regatta by winning today's final race in the RS:X Women's fleet. She also crossed the finish line first in race 5 but was later disqualified after a protest, a score she immediately excluded to end the opening series with ten points from six races. This left Bryony SHAW (GBR) just one point behind the Frenchwoman with Jian YIN (CHN) a further four behind after going OCS in raced 5 today.

The entire Tornado fleet rounded the first weather mark within a minute of each other. Johannes POLGAR and Florian SPALTEHOLZ (GER) came out of the scuffle well and finished the first run in the lead and managed to hold onto it throughout the remainder of the race. Series leaders Roman HAGARA and Hans Peter STEINACHER (AUT) had their worst race of the series, an enviable 6th. The Austrians rebounded to win the final race and complete the series with three first place finishes. Darren BUNDOCK and Glenn ASHBY (AUS) had another solid day with a 5,2 and are just five points behind the Austrians going into the Medal Race. POLGAR and SPALTEHOLZ lead the battle for bronze

As the clock ran down, the race committee postponed the Finn's second start after a big right shift came through during the final moments of the starting sequence. About ten boats went right immediately after the start. Ben AINSLIE (GBR) started in the middle of the line and was the weather boat on the starboard tack. Inside of two minutes from the start, all of the boats were on starboard tack. Most of the fleet sailed up the right side of the course. The half a dozen boats that played the middle left, ended up in the top half of the fleet following the last cross of the beat. AINSLIE was among the leaders to go left at the top of the beat. Daniel BIRGMARK (SWE) was first and gybed around the top mark with World Champion Rafael TRUJILLO (ESP). Ainslie led the charge on the starboard gybe.

At the finish of the first Finn race, Peer MOBERG (NOR) was on the right, overall leader Ben AINSLIE (GBR) on the middle left with Ivan KLJAKOVIC GASPIC (CRO) to the right and Anthony NOSSITER (AUS) was far right. NOSSITER came in with pressure from the right to win, with MOBERG second and Daniel SLATER (NZL) third. AINSLIE's run of first and second places came to an end with a sixth. Pieter-Jan POSTMA (NED) carded his second bullet of the series in race 6. This time AINSLIE was fifth, but his nearest rival KLJAKOVIC GASPIC could only post an 18 to see the Brit move 11 points ahead going into the Medal Race. With a comfortable points cushion established 'careful and conservative' will be his strategy for tomorrow.

It was a great day for Xavier ROHART and Pascal RAMBEAU (FRA), Robert SCHEIDT and Bruno PRADA (BRA) and Flavio MARAZZI and Christoph CHRISTEN (SUI). The French and the Swiss posted two finishes in the top three and the Brazilians had a 4,1 for the day. The top three finishers in the first race crossed the line within 17 seconds of one another and in the second race the top six finished within a minute of each other in 7 knots of wind.

The Stars had a major shake up on the first run of the first race, and ROHART and RAMBEAU (FRA) catapulted from eighth to first. SCHEIDT and PRADA remained in the basement, but got their engines into gear up the second beat. By the end of the race, the Brazilians ground down the pack and wound up fourth.

Next up, ROHART and RAMBEAU led around the first weather mark and the bottom mark. They led the fleet to the right. There was a tremendous gap between them and SCHEIDT and PRADA as they approached the mark on the starboard tack layline. They liked the right so much that they gybe set around the weather mark. SCHEIDT and PRADA leapfrogged ahead of the French to win with MARAZZI and CHRISTEN third.

In the 470 Men's fleet, Alvaro MARINHO and Miguel NUNES (POR) had a keeper with a first in the first race and Pierre LEBOUCHER and Vincent GAROS (FRA) won the second race. Nathan WILMOT and Malcolm PAGE (AUS) continued to show that they know where to go and were second in both races to lead overall. Nick ROGERS and Joe GLANFIELD (GBR) finished off the opening series with two third place finishes and are just three points behind the Aussies going into the Medal Race.

Fernanda OLIVEIRA and Isabel SWANN (BRA) had a fabulous day in the women's fleet. They finished second in the first race and third in the second race. By winning the first race of the day, Ai KONDO and Naoko KAMATA (JAP) won their second race of the series. Unfortunately, they could not get out of the basement during the second and final race of the series. Their 17th place finish was their throw out. They go into the Medal Race two points behind the regatta leaders Ruslana TARAN and Olena PAKHOLCHYK (UKR), who posted two seventh place finishes today.

Anna TUNNICLIFFE (USA) put in the standout performance of the day with two bullets and a second place to storm to the top of the Laser Radial leaderboard. Jo ALEH (NZL) dropped to second after 8,4,6 scores, whilst a bullet in the day's final race kept Tina MIHELIC (CRO) third overall. The Radials are scheduled to sail their final race of the opening series tomorrow, with TUNNICLIFFE currently 12 points ahead.

After a disappointing opening day, the American world #1 attributed her turn around in form a more relaxed approach, 'During the start of the regatta, I put too much pressure on myself. After a few rounds, I have started to get a hold on the conditions, and am now starting to have fun. Having fun is very important in this regatta,' she said.

The Laser also got in three races today, with 2006 test event winner Paul GOODISON (GBR) holding on to the overall lead. The day did not start too well for the Brit as he got buried in the fleet after a poor start and posted a 26 first up. However he fought back strongly with an eighth and a bullet to stay top of the leaderboard. Maciej GRABOWSKI's (POL) 3,4,5 put him second overall, just a point behind GOODISON.

In the opening Yngling race Sally BARKOW, Carrie HOWE and Debbie CAPOZZI (USA) inched out on Renee GROENEVELD, Bes ANNEMIEKE and Marije KAMPEN (NED) with a quick and flawless gybe at the port side of the finishing line. Sarah AYTON, Sarah WEBB and Pippa WILSON (GBR) struggled to stay in the pressure on the right and crossed the line in third.

Siljia LEHTINEN, Maria KLEMETZ and Livia VARESMAA (FIN) won the next race after going left on the final downwind, whilst the Brits and Americans finished one place apart to tie on 14 points going into the final three scheduled races of the opening series tomorrow. GROENEVELD, ANNEMIEKE and KAMPEN are only six points behind the leading pair.

After squeezing in three races yesterday, the 49ers had to wait ashore today as the RS:X fleets went out first race area A. With no warning signal to be made before 16:00 they missed out on racing today, leaving an incredibly close top six going into the Medal Race tomorrow. Peter HANSEN and Soren HANSEN (DEN) and Stevie MORRISON and Ben RHODES (GBR) are tied on 42 points. The British reigning World Champions and world #1 crew had a few wobbles earlier in the series but were the form team on Monday, jumping up the leaderboard with 4,1,2 scores. However the Danes and the Brits cannot afford to ignore the rest of the fleet as just eight points cover the top six, which include all three medallists from the 2007 Worlds along with the reigning Olympic Champions.

The Medal Races are scheduled to get underway at 13:00 tomorrow, with the 470 Men, 470 Women, Finn and Star on race area A and the RS:X Men, RS:X Women, 49er and Tornado on race area B. The Laser and Laser Radial fleets continue their opening series on race area C as do the Ynglings on area D.

Watch out for Robert SCHEIDT and Bruno PRADA (BRA) tomorrow, with the Brazilian Star World Champions hinting, 'We have a special strategy for the medal race, but we can't reveal it at this time!'

Results

49er

Men's 470

Women's 470

Finn

Laser

Laser Radial

Men's RS:X

Women's RS:X

Star

Tornado

Yngling

Organizing Committee of the 2007 Qingdao International Regatta
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