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8 December 2011, 12:59 pm
Gold Fleet Racing Commences At Perth 2011
Israel's Lee Korzits
Israel's Lee Korzits

Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships
Perth, Australia

The first Gold fleet races at the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships started with a moderate sea breeze providing almost perfect sailing conditions off Fremantle on Thursday.
Women's RS:X

Poland's Zofia Klepacka had more on her mind than just winning her RS-X races on Thursday, crediting her impressive comeback on a new mental outlook.

Klepacka, 25, said her turnaround from Monday's racing - where she had a 10th and an 18th - to winning two of Thursday's three Gold fleet races to move into third place overall was because of a personal tragedy. "My friend died, so I was very sad," she said. "On the first day my head wasn't in the sailing, but everyone spoke to me and told me to sail for him. I am sailing for him. Sometimes there are things more important than sailing."

Klepacka didn't just win races six and seven in the Gold Fleet. She smashed the opposition as she headed home by large margins, firstly in light winds and then in a moderate sea breeze. "My first day was really bad but now I've recovered. Now I can fight for a medal. I feel very fast."

Israel's Lee Korzits leads the Women's RS:X competition in the ISAF Worlds on 14 points with Spain's Marina Alabau second on 20. Klepacka has 27 points in third place, two clear of Great Britain's Bryony Shaw.

The Women's RS:X competition is scheduled to continue at 14:45 local time on 10 December on the Leighton course.

Laser Radial

World #2 Evi Van Acker (BEL) continues to lead the Laser Radial competition by 14 points overall despite finishing a race outside the top four for the first time.

World #1 Marit Bouwmeester (NED) and World #5 Paige Railey (USA) are her closest competition after eight races. The Gold fleet started the day in a moderate wind which picked up later to 18 knots of sea breeze.

Railey had her first win of the series in Race 6, with her only competition coming from Lijia Xu (CHN) and van Acker. Railey won the race comfortably, while the real fight was between Xu and van Acker for the minor placings.

Continuing her good form, XU picked up another second place after leading for much of Race 7. On the second last leg, Beijing silver medallist, Gintare Scheidt (LTU), sailed ahead of XU to win her first race in Perth 2011.

Laser Radial competition is scheduled to continue on 10 December with the Gold fleet set to start at 12:00 Perth time on the Centre course, while the Silver fleet is scheduled to begin at 14:50 on the Parmelia course.

Finn

Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) has retained the narrow lead he secured on after taking out the only Gold fleet race in the Finn class sailed on Thursday 8 December at the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships.

Postma was challenged for most of the race by his two closest competitors on points, Giles Scott (GBR) and Ben Ainslie (GBR), who finished second and third respectively in the Gold fleet's race six. Scott and Ainslie therefore retained their second and third places overall.

After a close race, Postma said, "Today I could put all my energy in to the one race. There were great conditions and I had a nice start and took a little lead. I lost the lead on the first downwind, and (Giles) Scott and Ben (Ainslie) closed the gap."

Top performers in the first Gold fleet race were mainly the top six sailors from each of the previous Yellow and Blue fleets. Edward Wright (GBR) finished in fourth place, followed closely by Jonathan Lobert (FRA).

The Silver fleet's Race 6 was won by Brendan Wilton (CAN), ahead of Timo Hagoort (NED) and Martin Robitaille (CAN).

Racing is scheduled to continue from 13:00 on Friday on the Leighton course.

Men's 470

Australians Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page are on track to defend their Men's 470 World Championship after taking the overall lead from Great Britain duo Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell.

Belcher and Page finished third in the Gold fleet while Patience and Bithell (GBR) claimed a disappointing 28th position.

Croatia pairing and World #3 Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic powered through the course on to win the race and were followed by Israel's Gideon Kliger and Eran Sela. Moderate SSW winds of 14 knots helped Fantela and Marenic cement an early lead at the first windward mark, a margin they extended throughout the race.

"The race was perfect," said Marenic. "We had a really good speed at the start. We were one of the only teams that picked the left side at first, and after that it was really easy."

Israel's Kliger and Eran Sela were satisfied with their second place finish ahead of Belcher and Page. "It was quite good," said Kliger. "We started in 12th position and we were battling with Australia for second place and we succeeded."

The defending World Champions managed to stay among the top five throughout the race while Patience and Bithell's dreams of dominating the fleet were sunk from the start. "We had a bad start and we capsized," said Bithell. "We were dead last at the first mark and from there we had to catch up. "In the 470 you can't make any mistakes because it's so competitive."

Australia's Mat Belcher said, "It was a difficult race - the pressure was on for the first day of the finals." However, he said the pair will be buoyed by their third place performance in the Gold fleet. "It's still early days, we want to be patient and not do anything too crazy."

Racing is scheduled to continue from 12:00 Perth time Friday on the Centre course.

Women's Match Racing

Silja Lehtinen's (FIN) impressive winning streak was put to an end with losses to Anna Tunnicliffe (USA), Nicky Souter (AUS) and Ekaterina Skudina (RUS) in the final Group A flights in the Women's Match Racing competition.

Close matches ensured exciting sailing wrapped up the end of the Stage 1 Round Robin for Group A, with USA and Russia securing a berth at the London 2012 Olympic Games after finishing top of the group.

Australia and Finland can still make it through to the Quarter-Finals and secure an Olympic berth, with a top four finish in the Stage 2 Round Robin repechage.

Souter added to the excitement of the day in her match against Stephanie Hazard (NZL), much to the delight of the Australians in the grandstand. After two losses in her morning matches, Tunnicliffe turned around the early deficit with wins against Dekleva Paoli (SLO), Lehtinen, Skudina, Souter and Hazard.

"If you had told us this morning we were going to win, we wouldn't have believed you," Tunnicliffe said.

The last race of the day was the rescheduled morning match between Tunnicliffe and Hazard after it had been abandoned due to a collision with an umpire boat.

As Hazard attempted to take her penalty she collided with the umpire boat, with crew member Susannah Pyatt receiving a slight bump on the head.

There was also a set-back for Argentina against Germany in flight 17, with skipper Martina Maria Silva falling overboard, forcing her team to turn around to pick her up. Germany won the match.

Women's Match Racing is scheduled to continue from 10:00 local time on Friday on the Harbour course.

The Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships website will bring you results, tracking, live updates and all the latest news both on and off the water.

Perth 2011
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