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13 May 2006, 04:26 pm
Day 4: Wind At Last
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ISAF World Sailing Games 2006
Lake Neusiedl, Austria

Despite a promising breeze early on, it was a frustrating start to day four of the ISAF World Sailing Games, with the wind threatening to desert Lake Neusiedl for the second day running. But the sailors were not to be denied, with nearly all the fleets seeing some action out on the water.
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After a windless day three, the tension was rising around the lake as a second raceless day began to look increasingly likely. The Lasers endured a long wait out on the water before heading back to the shore, with the conditions never quite filling in enough to get a fair race underway. Down in Breitenbrunn, the RS:X windsurfers took proactive steps when greeted by a weather report of one knot, gusting to two, holding a meeting to determine the direction they would like to see the class going forward. Then the waiting continued, with the footballs, frisbees and volleyballs an unsatisfactory replacement for the wind.

However, whilst the frustrations were continuing elsewhere, the 470s managed to get away relatively early on, with the warning shot fired at 1245 local time in conditions just strong enough to race in, with the wind at around four knots. The majority of the fleet gathered at the pin end, with a smaller group of around ten crews heading out right from the committee boat. Positioned midway between these two groups, the third place overall French crew of Ronan DREANO and Ronan FLOCH (FRA) started to head right before quickly turning back to the left. At the first mark, the French strategy seemed to be working as they rounded third behind the Singaporeans Roy TAY and Pei Ming CHUNG and Korea's Daeyoung KIM and Sungahn JUNG. Behind them the leading Australian pairing of Matt BELCHER and Nick BEHRENS rounded in eighth, just ahead of team mates and World Champions Nathan WILMOT and Malcolm PAGE.

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

Asians Lead

With the wind still very light, TAY and CHUNG were able to build on their lead and by the fourth mark had built a substantial lead of around 30 boat lengths. DREANO and FLOCH rounded second just ahead of Junior World and Junior European Champions Sime FANTELA and Igor MARENIC (CRO) with KIM and JUNG and WILMOT and PAGE completing a leading group which had pulled right away from the rest of the fleet.

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Sime FANTELA and Igor
MARENIC chase Ronan
round the mark

The French and Croatian crews hauled in the leaders on the next leg, with DREANO and FLOCH ahead of the Croatians by around 15 boat lengths, a lead which saw FANTELA and MARENIC respond by gybing to starboard and heading off to the left of the course. It was a move that worked, bringing them right back into contention as the final mark approached. The French crew rounded first, and immediately gybed to the left of the course, a move which brought a delayed but identical gybe from the Croatians. With TAY and CHUNG 20 seconds behind it turned into a straight fight for the finish. The battle was won by DREANO and FLOCH, who took the bullet to move them into a tie for second overall lead. Second place for FANTELA and MARENIC also seems them jump up the overall standings to 16, with WILMOT and PAGE having a great final leg to grab third place and move to fourth overall. Meanwhile BELCHER and BEHRENS came in eighth, a result which they immediately discard to stay in the top spot overall.

The 470 blue fleet then had a three hour wait until they finally got underway. Francisco SANCHEZ and Alejandro RAMOS (ESP) took the bullet to move up to fifth overall, whilst second place put Eyal LEVINE and Yam AMIR (ISR) sixth on the leaderboard.

Ukraine Shows Pace

Demonstrating their intent and ability to return to form after a break of several years from the 470, were the double bronze medallists from 1996 and 2000, Ruslana TARAN and Olena PAKHOLCHYK (UKR), who led off the line and having achieved clearance on the fleet, swiftly tacked off to port and headed to the right of the course up to the first windward mark. Elise RECHICHI and Tessa PARKINSON chose the committee boat end of the line to start and had a clean and fast exit from the start line to chase the Ukrainians up the right hand side of the course.

TARAN and PAKHOLCHYK held their lead to the first mark, but the yellow bibbed Australians were chasing hard, and made their move into the lead as the two boats rounded the mark. By the downwind gate, the Ukrainians had reclaimed the lead, with Vlada ILJIENK and Natalia GAPONOVICH in second, and the Australians in third. Through the gate, and the Ukrainians swiftly tacked onto port, to move to the favoured right hand side of the course, and extend their lead by a margin which it seemed could be maintained through to the finish.

A few errors in the next downwind leg saw the critical handover of the lead from the Ukrainians to the Russians. TARAN later explained 'Yes we made some mistakes, but this is only our third competition since deciding to sail together again.'

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Ruslana TARAN and Olena
PAKHOLCHYK showed they
are still a force to be reckoned

By the wing mark, the Australians had also overtaken TARAN and PAKHOLCHYK but only just, and with nothing to lose the Ukrainian team chose to gybe immediately after rounding the mark and take the left side of the course down to the finish line, a strategy which paid as they moved back into second place, to finish second behind the Russians. For the Ukrainians, the result was their best yet, but TARAN is used to better. Commenting on her goals here, she said 'My intention here is not so much to get a result, but for us to practice sailing together again.'

In the dying breeze, the yellow fleet returned to shore, and after a wait for the wind to return the blue fleet headed out for race 5 which got underway at 1725. With the fleets behind schedule and only tomorrow, Sunday, to be used to complete the qualification series, the importance of the sailors consolidating their position increased today in order to make the cut for the finals.

The three leading crews in the blue fleet did just that, with Adi GILBOA and Bouskila VERED (ISR) taking the bullet, closely chased by the Italians Giulia CONTI and Giovanna MICOL who came home in second place. Consistency from Lenka SMIDOVA and Elisabeth KRATZIG rewarded them with a third place - to shift the crew up from eighth in the qualification series to fifth overall.

Continuing their top five pace from yesterday was Noa BOTZER and Laia TRAJTENBERG (ISR) who came in fourth to improve their series position drastically and improve from 24 overall to sit just inside the cut at 14.

Hoping to represent the host nation in two years' time at the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition are Xiaoli WANG and Xufeng HUANG (CHN) who at this stage sit outside the cut in 17.

American Champs Shine In The Hobie

Down in Podersdorf, the Hobie Tigers left the beach in a light breeze. With a two to four knot steady breeze on the race course the reigning US Hobie Tiger Champions Greg THOMAS and Jacques BERNIER won the day with a first and second. THOMAS explained their success saying, 'We tried to keep the boat fast, although the wind was shifting. We had a couple of good passes on one leg and passed three other boats in the first race of today.' The pair are looking forward to the finals next week, saying 'We feel we are getting better every day. We have made several good tactical decisions and tried to sail conservative downwind.'

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The Lasers finally got away this evening

Reigning Hobie Tiger Champion Enrique FIGUEROA and Jorge HERNANDEZ (PUR) also figured strongly with a second and third. Leaders Andy WALSH and Ed BARNEY (GBR) meanwhile did not have a good day. After getting to the mark first in the first race they were informed they had started prematurely and were forced by the race committee to retire from the race.

Wind At Last

As the day progressed the wind gradually filled in, and after several abandoned starts, the 49ers left the shore and finally got some racing in.

Athanasios PACHOUMAS and Athanasios SIOUZIOS got off to a flier in the blue fleet 49er race, started in seven to eight knots, established a solid lead and then eased away from the fleet as the wind increased to take an impressive bullet. After a DNF, a DNC and an OCS earlier in the week, the pair are in serious need of a few more bullets in the remaining races to squeeze into the gold fleet for the final series. In the day's other 49er race in the yellow fleet, Jorge LIMA and Francisco ANDRADE (POR) took the bullet ahead of overall leaders Nathan OUTTERIDGE and Ben AUSTIN (AUS), with Austrian favourites Christoph SIEBER and Clemens KRUSE steadily improving to take third place.

Event Class No. of sailors
qualifying for
Gold fleet
Men's One Person Dinghy Laser 32
Women's One Person Dinghy Laser Radial 25
Men's Two Person Dinghy 470 24
Women's Two Person Dinghy 470 15
Men's Windsurfing Neil Pryde RS:X 19
Women's Windsurfing Neil Pryde RS:X All
Men's Multihull Hobie Tiger WSG Edition 14
Women's Multihull Hobie 16 with spinnaker All
Skiff 49er 12
Team Sailing 420 N/A

The Laser sailors' patience was also rewarded later in the day, with the fleet heading out for a late 1745 start. Thomas LE BRETON (FRA) took the bullet, Michael BULLOT (NZL) was second and Tom SLINGSBY (AUS) third. In the Laser Radial, Xu LIJIA (CHN) led Sophie DE TURCKHEIM (FRA) and Mateja PETRONIJEVIC (CRO) round the first mark, with these three holding on to cross the finish line in an identical order. The Lasers squeezed in a second race, with BULLOT this time pipping LE BRETON to the bullet and Haris PAPADOPOULOS (CYP) third.

The game plan in the Laser fleet tomorrow sees the blue fleet from today set to complete races five and six to equal the yellow fleet, with a race seven scheduled for both fleets if time and wind allow.

In the Laser Radial, today's blue fleet will sail race five first, with a race six then scheduled for both fleets.

Tomorrow is the last day of the qualifying series. In nine of the events the top sailors from the qualifying series will continue through to the gold fleet where they will be joined by the invited sailors from the top of the ISAF World Sailing Rankings. In the Women's Multihull Hobie 16 the racing continues with no separation of the fleet. The table to the right shows the numbers of sailors from each of the qualifying fleets who will qualify for the gold fleet for the final series starting on Tuesday 16 May.

The pressure is on tomorrow, with some big names facing the prospect of missing out. Olympic bronze medallist Kazuto SEKI (JPN) in the 470, Worlds silver medallist DE TURCKHEIM in the Laser Radial, current World number five crew in the Women's 470 Amanda CLARK and Sarah MERGENTHALER (USA), all currently lie outside the cut and will have to find the top of their form to make it through tomorrow.

The team racing competitors spent nearly all day ashore, some sunbathing, some playing football, but none of them sailing. However at 1630 it was decided to give it a try and the competitors went to prepare their boats for racing. At 1705 the race 34 of the second round robin began. Megan HAW and Jennifer CHAMBERLIN from the USA were both pleased with the decision, 'It was definitely worth waiting, although it took quite a long time. The wind is good and it is more cloudy than yesterday, when the sun was a bit irritating.'

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

ISAF. Image, The Russians on their way to victory in the Women's 470 race:© ISAF
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