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3 August 2007, 10:30 am
Gold For New Zealand At Optimist Worlds
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Optimist World Champion Chris STEELE

Optimist World Championship 2007
Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy

Chris STEELE (NZL) of the Wakatere B.C. in Auckland, is the 2007 Optimist World Champion, the first time the event has been won by a New Zealand sailor. This sixth and final day of the championship the race committee managed two races in relatively light 8-12 knots, leaving the series complete at 13 races.
STEELE is from the same club as 2004 silver medallist Paul SNOW-HANSEN (NZL), who last week took the silver medal in the 29ers at the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship. Combined with Carl EVANS (NZL), who had two top-20 results at Optimist Worlds and became the youngest ever 420 World Champion, there is clearly a great group of NZL sailors reminiscent of Jim SALTONSTALL's British 'ferrets' of the early '90s.

And they are not all male. Alexandra MALONEY (NZL) finished off a fine consistent series to take overall bronze and the girls' prize well ahead of Lara VADLAU (AUT). Rachel LEE (SIN) had a superb 5,6 to snatch girls' bronze.

Benjamin GREZ of Chile started the day with the handicap of a low second discard and could do nothing once STEELE kept his nerve. Silver is however a great result for a relatively small and remote fleet. 2006 champion Julian AUTENRIETH (GER) showed great character to fight back from his disastrous OCS,34,39 in the earlier light weather races to finish fourth.

Of the 13 races five have been in light winds and the remainder in stronger stuff, including one race where 32 knots were recorded. It has been one of the best tests of all-round skills. . . . possibly the best since the last time the Optimist fleet visited Sardinia.

Robert Wilkes (As Amended By ISAF)
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