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3 April 2006, 02:59 pm
UPDATED: Turkey Off To Winning Start
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ISAF Nations Cup 2006
Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Turkey completed a clean sweep of victories on the opening day of the ISAF Nations Cup Regional Final for Asia in Dubai, UAE, by sending India to their first defeat of the series. Orkun SOYER (TUR) and his crew now hold the overnight lead in the first of the ISAF Grade 2 Regional Finals for the worldwide match racing event.
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New Asian Champions India had made a winning start, with Mahesh RAMCHANDRAN (IND) and his team showing the form that his bought him two recent match racing titles in the opening flights. Meanwhile the home UAE team suffered defeat in the opening exchanges of the ISAF Grade 2 Regional Final for Asia.

In the second flight of the round robin, Ahmed SHAHEEN's all UAE crew defeated the other UAE team skippered by Yousuf KHALID MOHAMMAD, while Turkey beat Bekky BRITTON's all women crew.

India then scored their second successive win, defeating the Jebel Ali Sailing Club crew skippered by Christopher GRAHAM, while MOHAMMAD scored his first win of the series over BRITTON.

Original Story...

After exceptionally light winds had delayed the start of the Regional Final by several hours, RAMCHANDRAN and his crew quickly showed the form which took them to the gold medal at last month's Asian Sailing Championships as racing got underway in the late afternoon.

The Indians were comfortable winners over the crew skippered by Cedric LE REST (UAE) and representing the event hosts, Dubai International Marine Club, as the battle started for a place in the ISAF Grade 1 Grand Final of the ISAF Nations Cup in Ireland in September.

Turkey, skippered by Orkun SOYER, also opened with a win against Ahmed SHAHEEN and his crew, who are the UAE's official representative in the event and must beat the odds if they are to go through to the showdown at the Royal Cork Yacht Club in Ireland.

India Looking Good

Since losing to Germany in the final of the ISAF Grade 3 Dubai Match Race in January, the Indians have been unbeatable, capturing their own national match racing title the following month before securing Asian gold in Doha, Qatar.

'The crew are very comfortable with each other now,' said skipper RAMCHANDRAN after the opening win in the round robin series which will ultimately send two teams through to the final on Friday. 'No one was happy sitting around waiting for the wind to get up, and it was good to start sailing.'

Eagerly waiting to go into action at Dubai International Marine Club was a second UAE crew skippered by Yousuf KHALID MOHAMMAD and including his brothers, Adel and Hamed, as well as Tawfeeq AL MARZOUKI and Ahmed Mohammed AL MUTAWAR.

One Final Place Secured

Regardless of the results this week, the UAE is guaranteed at least one place in the Grand Final. The Dubai team skippered by Bekky BRITTON are already through to climax of the event in Ireland in September as the only all women crew entered in the Regional Final for Asia.

Also contesting the Dubai qualifying round are a crew representing Jebel Ali Sailing Club and skippered by Christopher GRAHAM (UAE).

The teams are competing in a daily round robin series of match races aboard four V1/Lutra-30 Sport Boats.

The Dubai qualifying round will be followed by other qualifiers in Finland, Portugal, Slovenia, Great Britain, Brazil, the US Virgin Islands and New Zealand over the next four months as teams from around the world battle for a place in the Grand Final.

ISAF Nations Cup Regional Final - Asia Standings

1. Onursal SOYER (TUR), 4-0
2. Mahesh RAMCHANDRAN (IND), 2-1
2. Ahmed SHAHEEN (UAE), 2-1
4. Cedric LE REST (UAE), 1-1
5. Yousuf KHALID MOHAMMAD (UAE), 1-2
6. Christopher GRAHAM (UAE), 0-2
7. Bekky BRITTON (UAE), 0-3

For a complete list of all the news from the ISAF Nations Cup 2006 CLICK HERE.

Tony LEWIS. Image, The Turkish crew on their way to an opening victory over Ahmed SHAHEEN's UAE team:© Tony LEWIS
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