Across the fleets the Australian sailors seized the initiative, seemingly right at home in the strong breeze blowing across Lake Neusiedl. In the 470s, Matt BELCHER and Nick BEHRENS (AUS) were no exception, scoring a second place and a bullet to put them top of the overall standings. Argentina's Javier CONTE and Juan DE LA FUENTE were similarly strong, with a third and second place putting them two points back in second place. The second Aussie team and reigning 470 World Champions Nathan WILMOT and Malcolm PAGE were also clearly enjoying the conditions, opening up with a bullet followed by an eighth place. Israel's Eyl LEVINE and Yam AMIR also started up with a victory, with a fifth in race two leaving them third overall. Somewhat surprisingly they are the only European crew in the top seven.
The Aussie success continued in the women's fleet, with Elise RECHICHI and Tessa PARKINSON scoring identical 2,1 finishes to BELCHER and BEHRENS and topping the leaderboard at the end of day one. Rising young Israeli star and Hyères winner Adi GILBOA, with crew Vered BOUSKILA also had a bullet in race two, which together with a opening fifth place puts them second overall. Another rising star of the 470 scene, Italy's Giulia CONTI, lies third with crew Giovanna MICOL, whilst fourth and fifth places go to Russia's Vlada ILIENKO and Natalia GAPONOVICHA and the Ukraine's Ruslana TARAN and Olena PAKHOLCHYK.
Other big names include Sail Melbourne winners and runners up in Hyères, Yuka YOSHISAKO and Noriko OHKUMA in eighth. Olympic silver medallist in the Europe, Lenka SMIDOVA and crew Elisabeth KRATZIG (CZE) are twelfth, whilst Europe Olympic bronze medallist Signe LIVBJERG and crew Rie CHRISTIANSEN (DEN) are 17th.
|The 49ers in action
© Emily L. FERGUSON
Two sailors sit on equal points after the opening day of the qualification series for the Women's One Person Dinghy, with Mateja PETRONIJEVIC (CRO) and Sari MULTALA (FIN) on three points apiece. Both sailing in the blue fleet, they were in their own battle at the front of the fleet, taking a bullet and a second place each.
PETRONIJEVIC, who holds an ISAF World Sailing Ranking of 47, will be thrilled with her early performance and is no doubt still bouncing confidently from her recent domination at the Izola Spring Cup.
The fleets are now re-seeded for the second day of racing, and these two leaders will find themselves in different fleets.
Sailing strong in third place is Xu LIJIA from China, who placed 2,5 to secure a comfortable day's racing. A relative newcomer to the Laser Radial, and sitting at 83 in the World Rankings, LIJIA's form has been demonstrated with a silver medal at ISAF's pinnacle youth event in 2005, the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship.
|The 470s approach the mark
© Emily L. FERGUSON
There was an excellent start for each of the leaders of the blue and yellow Laser fleets yesterday, with Tom SLINGSBY (AUS) taking two bullets in the blue fleet and Michael LEIGH (CAN) matching in the yellow fleet, to sit in equal first. Behind the two leaders, Milan VUJASINOVIC (CRO), with a World Ranking of 15, and Johan WIGFORSS (SWE) were chasing hard to finish second in each fleet, and place third and fourth overall respectively.
The top ranked Swedish Laser sailor with a World Ranking of 26, WIGFORSS excelled in yesterday's breeze conditions. Fresh from a confident eighth place at the ISAF Grade 1 Semaine Olympique Française, which itself was preceded by an eleventh at the ISAF Grade 2 Princess Sofia Trophy, WIGFORSS is on form to deliver here in Austria.
Diego ROMERO, Argentina's top ranked sailor in the Laser, had a good day placing a 4 and 2 to sit in fifth overall. Currently waiting just outside the world's top ten ranked Laser sailors, a strong result here in Austria could see ROMERO break into the top ten for the first time in his career.
For Julio ALSOGARAY (ARG) yesterday's first race was an indicator of form, as he took an opening bullet, which was followed up with a 12 in the second race. At the last ISAF World Sailing Games in 2002, ALSOGARAY was part of the ISAF Athlete Participation Programme which supports sailors from developing nations, and placed 24. More recently at Semaine Olympique Française a few weeks ago, ALSOGARAY finished in 43.
Sailors from Barbados, the Dominican Republic and Ecuador are competing in the Laser fleet thanks to funding from the ISAF Athlete Participation Programme (APP), with Russell STREETER (BAR), Raul AGUAYO (DOM) and Gabriel MORAN (ECU) all benefiting.
|The Hobies enjoyed the
fantastic conditions on Lake
© Emily FERGUSON
Andy WALSH and Ed BARNEY gave Britain one number one spot at the end of the opening day, with a bullet and a second place seeing them top the Hobie Tiger leaderboard. The bronze medallists from the Formula 18 Worlds lie a point ahead of Austria's Thomas ZAJAC and Thomas CZAJKA, both of whom grew up sailing on Lake Neusiedl and were obviously full of confidence sailing on their home waters. A third place and a bullet puts them just one point off the lead and means they are the highest placed Austrian crew at this early stage.
France's Yann GUICHARD and Laurent GUILLEMETTE also came away with a 1,3 record from day one and lie tied for third. The big names in the fleet also got off to solid starts, with Hobie Tiger World Champions Enrique FIGUEROA and Jorge HERNANDEZ (PUR) tied for fifth and double Olympic gold medallists Roman HAGARA and Hans Peter STEINACHER (AUT) seventh.
Two races were also completed in the Women's Hobie 16 fleet, with Annie NELSON and Susan KORYINIEWSKI (USA) one point clear at the top after a 3,2 start. The two bullets went to the Australian pairing of Belinda ZANESCO and Bridget WATERHOUSE, who are second overall, and the Italians Silvia SICOURI and Lara SICOURI. However the Italians were involved in a collision during the first race, leading to a damaged mainsail and subsequently a DNS. Their protest was not accepted by the jury, but with their recovery to first in race two they ended the day tenth overall.
The breeze provided great conditions for the RS:X fleets racing out of Breitenbrunn. Vegard Johan EIMIND (NOR) and Qiubin CHEN (CHN) hold the lead in the Men and Women's fleets after day one. Tom ASHLEY (NZL) is right behind EIMIND after a 1,2 start, whilst France's Pauline PERRIN and Charline PICON lie second third in the Women's leaderboard. For more on the RS:X racing CLICK HERE.
Racing continues in Austria today, with a promising breeze across Lake Neusiedl this morning and eight to ten knot north west winds expected on the water.
For all the news on the 2006 ISAF World Sailing Games CLICK HERE.