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17 May 2006, 05:00 pm
Day 8: The Calm Before The Storm
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ISAF World Sailing Games 2006
Lake Neusiedl, Austria

The second day of the final series at the ISAF World Sailing Games again began with near stillness over Lake Neusiedl. But today the wind came to Austria in abundance and all fleets played host to some fantastic racing, with the conditions really testing the sailors to their maximum.
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It was a day which saw everything in Lake Neusiedl. After a quiet dawn to the day, racing started around the lake as scheduled at eleven, with the wind around 15 knots and already rising. It quickly built, thunderstorms and rain squalls came and went, the favourites flourished and floundered and the smiles were back on the faces of the organizers, as the World Sailing Games hit top gear today.

The first Laser Radial gold fleet race got underway at 1110, in 20-24 knots from 310˚, with gusts up to 30 knots. Sara BLANCK (AUS) led the way to the first mark, rounding five seconds before World Champion and World number one Paige RAILEY (USA) with Croatia's Mateja PETRONIJEVIC right behind her in third. BLANCK increased her lead on the downwind leg, passing the gate 30 seconds ahead of a chasing pack of three made up of RAILEY, PETRONIJEVIC and 2004 ISAF Youth Worlds Champion and current European Champion Sarah STEYAERT (FRA).

Whilst the rest of the fleet was rounding the right gate, RAILEY took the left and then headed out to the right on the upwind. It proved a race winning move by the American, who reached the upwind mark in the lead, pulled away on the reach and never looked out of control on the downwind to the finish. BLANCK followed her in second, whilst Sophie DE TURCKHEIM (FRA) crossed in third.

Men's RS:X
Women's RS:X
Laser Radial
Men's 470
Women's 470
Hobie Tiger
Hobie 16
Team Racing

Into race two and Veronika FENCLOVA (CZE) set the challenge, leading from the start, with Sarah STEYAERT (FRA) in second and Sari MULTALA (FIN) in third - a procession which continued until the second rounding of the windward mark when STEYAERT played the shifts better and took her place at the front of the pack. Closing in behind was Paige RAILEY (USA) who had manoeuvred herself up to third, before dropping back to fourth behind MULTALA , with the four boats in a race of their own at the front of the fleet.

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Paige RAILEY led the way in
the Radial once again

Along with RAILEY, STEYAERT impressed in the Radial today, and would be up challenging with the American for the overall lead were it not for a capsize in the final race. After reaching the first mark in 20th, she sailed through the fleet to sixth before losing control on the final downwind to end 16th. STEYAERT sits comfortably in third. No stunning individual race performances from Virginia KRAVARIOTI (GRE), but today she proved the point that consistency pays, placing 7,5,6, and sits in third overall.

Big Breeze Separates the Fleet

Today's first race in the men's gold fleet in the Laser got underway in an increasing breeze. Fielding 40 sailors on the start line, it was set to be interesting with this the first race combining the invited sailors, including the world's top ranked sailors, alongside those who qualified for the gold fleet through last week's qualification series.

Off to an excellent start in race one was Thomas LE BRETON, who led at the first mark over Milan VUJASINOVIC (CRO) and Tom SLINGSBY (AUS). LE BRETON, who packed a powerful punch to finish fifth overall in the qualification series, held his lead down to the leeward mark, with SLINGSBY moving up to second and VUJASINOVIC in third. Heading downwind and Diego ROMERO (ARG) and Gustavo LIMA (POR) were closing in on the leaders, and moved even closer when VUJASINOVIC (CRO) took a Rule 42 penalty.

Back up to the windward mark and LE BRETON was overtaken by SLINGSBY, with ROMERO in third. But ROMERO put in some stunning downwind sailing to pass LE BRETON in winds gusting around the 30 knot mark and take second place. Coming through to take fourth place was invited sailor and 2003 Laser World Champion LIMA.

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The black clouds descend on
Lake Neusiedl
In increasing winds, race two got underway with LE BRETON again leading the fleet off the line, and ROMERO not far behind. By the windward mark, these two had consolidated their advantage to deliver a significant margin over the rest of the fleet, with Michael BULLOT (NZL) in third. Whilst LE BRETON held his lead, ROMERO had given way to BULLOT by the gun.

LE BRETON Strikes Again

Race three saw a similar stunning performance from LE BRETON, with Brendan CASEY (AUS) in second and SLINGSBY in third.

After three races, sitting in first overall is LE BRETON who has given himself a tidy seven point margin over CASEY in second and ROMERO in third. LE BRETON, who holds a World Ranking of 24, has been steadily improving and working his way up the world rankings since his bronze medal at the 2000 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championships. With today's results he has most probably surprised himself, but was modestly playing down his performance, saying 'It was very shifty - and I played the shifts. I was lucky - we will see what happens tomorrow.'

An OCS for host nation star Andreas GERITZER (AUT) in race two, combined with two double digit finishes, sees him more than halfway down the fleet at 23- a tough and consistent climb will be needed for him to get back to the top ten and the final Medal Race.

Junior Champs Top The 470s

Both 470 gold fleets completed two races today. Sime FANTELA and Igor MARENIC (CRO) and Sven COSTER and Kalle COSTER (SWE) top the men's leaderboard on four points apiece. 470 Junior World and Junior European Champions FANTELA and MARENIC began with a third before taking a bullet in the second race. They reflected, 'It was a hard race, strong wind, we made less mistakes than the others....we survived!'

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The 470s in action
© ISAF World Sailing Games
Austria's Matthias SCHMIDT and Florian REICHSTÄDTER lie fifth overall after 4,5 finishes. SCHMIDT agreed with the surmise of the Croatians, adding, 'It was an extremely strong wind and it was just important to survive. In these races, the team with the fewest mistakes will be in front. It was just a fight, you couldn't see anything, I couldn't hear my crew...but it was extremely cool!'

World number one crew Ingrid PETITJEAN and Nadege DOUROUX (FRA) made an impressive start in the women's fleet, with a second place and a bullet giving them an early eight point lead. The day's other bullet went to Athens Olympic silver medallist in the Europe Lenka SMIDOVA and crew Elisabeth KRATZIG (CZE), but a 15th in race two sees the pair slip to sixth overall.

Conversely the Austrian team of Sylvia VOGL and Carolina FLATSCHER started poorly but recovered to fourth in the second race. FLATSCHER was just about smiling when she reflected, 'There were horrible conditions in the second race...strong wind, raining, hail - but it was an interesting and exciting was cool.'

Karin ALMQUIST and Karin BERG (SWE) lie second overall, after a 9,2 start, with Teja CERNE and Alja CERNE (CRO) third.

Usual Suspects On Form

It was the usual suspects who took the lead in the first race of the day in the Men's RS:X gold fleet. Tom ASHLEY (NZL), Maxim OBEREMKO (UKR) and Julien BONTEMPS (FRA) were a cut above the rest of the fleet and exchanged the lead throughout the race. As they approached the finish OBEREMKO nearly missed the line, but realised just in time to stop ASHLEY sneaking through. Julien BONTEMPS (FRA) finished third with Nicholas HUGUET (FRA) taking fourth.

The second race started promptly and most of the fleet lined up at the pin end. Just seven sailors opted for the left of the course and at the first mark with threatening clouds building over Breitenbrum, there was no surprise that the fleet was soon hit by heavy rain and severe gusts of over 30 knots. OBEREMKO rounded first followed by Aron GADORFALVI (HUN), BONTEMPS and Makoto TOMIZAWA (JPN). It wasn't long before the wind took it's toll on the fleet and only eleven of the 25 starters finished the race. Julien BONTEMPS took the gun ahead of Ricardo SANTOS (BRA) and overnight leader Byron KOKKLANIS (GRE).

After four races, OBEREMKO tops the leaderboard and able to discard his DNF from race four, with BONTEMPS in second and ASHLEY in third.

Kiwi star ASHLEY may be in third overall but he was not happy with his day today. After a second in the first race he found himself down in the pack after hitting two fish, apparently a common problem for the windsurfers, shortly after the start. Showing his class, he worked his way back through the fleet only for the mast step to break, forcing him to retire. 'I am requesting redress,' he said

Vegard Johan EIMIND (NOR) who finished fourth in qualification but went into today in 23 overall commented, 'It was pretty good in the first regatta [seventh] but in the second one there was so much wind that I retired after I'd been swimming for ten minutes.' He was not too disappointed with the day and is looking forward to celebrating Norwegian national day and watching the Champions League final this evening!

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Olga MASLIVETS on form
© ISAF World Sailing Games

MASLIVETS Does The Double

The women completed one race in the morning and two in the afternoon. In the first race, whilst most of the fleet lined up at the committee boat end, four sailors opted for a port tack start from the pin end. Weaving their way through the rest of the fleet they were off, all apart from 2005 Mistral World Champion and ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award nominee Blanca MANCHON (ESP) who was OCS - not a good start to her championship.

The fleet split across the course up to the first windward mark and as the race progressed became increasingly spread out. At the final mark it looked like the outcome was a sure thing but as the front three worked their way downwind to the finish the gaps closed. A sprint finish ensued between Lee KORSIZ (ISR) and yesterday's race winner Qiubin CHEN (CHN), with CHEN managing to edge her way across the line first after a tight tussle by the committee boat. Coming in behind these two was Olga MASLIVETS (UKR) in third, safely ahead of Jannicke STAALSTROM (NOR) in fourth. There is a significant difference between the front and the back of this women's fleet and it is little surprise that some of the big names from the Mistral class are making their presence felt here.

ISAF Youth Worlds Champion Blanca MANCHON (ESP) was not too disappointed with her OCS which she adds to a fourth from yesterday. Speaking about the equipment and the change to the RS:X from the Mistral she mentioned that it was easy to come to an event where the equipment was supplied because you don't have to bring so much with you. Pleased to have been invited and enjoying getting used to the RS:X she said, 'It is better for me because I am not so tired as the other girls, but they have the advantage that they have had some time to get used to the water, where the courses are and the equipment.'

Long Hard Day

The second race of the day for the women was postponed as strong winds ripped their way across the lake. Both fleets went ashore cold and tired with the men able to pack up and go home whilst the women waited for the wind to decrease before they could complete the rest of their races for the day.

The women's fleet and the silver fleet went back out on the water as the wind dropped and the sun came back out. The women completed their third and fourth races of the final series with many tired sailors on the race course. MASLIVETS, previously ranked at number one in the world in the Mistral, showed her class and the depth of her abilities in different conditions. After an eighth place yesterday she relished the strong winds and took the gun in both races to finish the day on top of the leaderboard. In second place was Charline PICON (FRA) with Olympian in the 470 Nikola GIRKE (CAN) finishing third.

The race committee wasted no time in getting race four underway and in a decreasing wind MASLIVETS finished first ahead of MANCHON and PICON. MANCHON moves up to third overall with CHEN in second after finishing seventh and fifth this afternoon.

Aussies Shine In Hobie Survival Conditions

The Hobie Tiger fleet got underway in 20 knots this morning with rain showers bringing stronger gusts with them. First around the buoy were the Russians Andreay KIRILYUK and Valery USHKOV, who capsized immediately when hoisting the gennaker. Flying past went Mitch BOOTH and Herbert DERCKSEN (NED), Darren BUNDOCK and Glenn ASHBY (AUS) and Roman HAGARA and Hans Peter STEINACHER (AUT). BOOTH and DERCKSEN were first around the bottom mark and from then on, the battle of the day was between them and BUNDOCK and ASHBY. With their greater body weight, the Aussies took the lead on the second downwind leg and maintained their position to take the gun, ahead of HAGARA and STEINACHER. Meanwhile the other Austrian team of Thomas ZAJAC and Thomas CZAJKA had to fight with their boat as the tiller kept coming up when sailing downwind. Eventually they came in 14th.

Just before the start of the second race the wind dropped, but that was to be the calm before the storm. HAGARA and STEINACHER got a good launch on the right side, but it was the Aussies who again seized the initiative. The Austrians rounded the windward mark in tenth and then were forced out of the race when their spreader was bent during a capsize. Then all hell broke lose, a thunderstorm arrived, the wind rose to 30 knots with strong shifts and the rain clouds opened. Only seven boats made it to the finish line, with BUNDOCK and ASHBY staying upright to take their second bullet of the day, BOOTH and DERCKSEN second and Coen DE KONING and Mischa HEEMSKERK (NED) third.

One race in the Hobie 16 fleets saw the bullet go to Kerstin WICHARDT and Anja HAFKE (GER) who lie third overall. Fourth place moves Annie NELSON and Susan KORZENIEWSKI (USA) up to first place overall.

Denmark and Italy Move In On Spanish 49er Leaders

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The 49ers in action today
© ISAF World Sailing Games

Relishing the strong conditions and barely giving anyone a look in today were Olympic Champions Iker MARTINEZ and Xabier FERNANDEZ (ESP), who placed 3,1 to add to their double bullets of yesterday and keep them safe at the front.

Finding form which was not apparent in the opening races of the gold fleet finals were Jonas WARRER and Martin KIRKETERP (DEN) who placed a 1,2 to move up into second overall, just one point ahead of Italian brothers and number two in the world rankings Pietro and Gianfranco SIBELLO, who placed 2,3 to sit in third overall. Pre-qualified to the gold fleet and making a debut appearance on Lake Neusiedl, the SIBELLO's goal is, 'A podium finish'.

With today's breezy and gusty conditions, vertical survival was the name of the game for some of the crews. Whilst not necessarily the challenge for Rodion LUKA and Georgiy LEONCHUK (UKR), still a disappointing day for them as they slipped from second overall to fourth. Only one brief comment on today's performance came from LUKA , 'Very bad!'

The second day of finals for the team racers began with the silver fleet who are competing for the two available berts in the quarter finals. There will be 21 races in the first round robin as the German team have withdrawn. The team racing was hampered today by the bad weather but both the gold fleet and silver fleet managed to get some races completed.

Keen to get out on the water, GBR2 commented: 'we are confident going into today's racing in the big breeze. We were disappointed by not making the cut for the gold fleet but are looking forward to a backdoor entry to the finals by winning the silver fleet.'

At the time of going to press, the team racing results were not available.

Racing continues on Lake Neusiedl tomorrow, with the first starts at 1100 local time (0900 UTC).

For all the news on the 2006 ISAF World Sailing Games CLICK HERE.

ISAF. Image, It was a spectacular day of sailing on Lake Neusiedl:© ISAF World Sailing Games 2006
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