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6 April 2006, 02:22 pm
UPDATED: GRAHAM And SOYER Locked In Battle For Final
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ISAF Nations Cup 2006
Dubai, United Arab Emirates

The Jebel Ali Sailing Club team skippered by Christopher GRAHAM (UAE) and Orkun SOYER's Turkish challengers face a sudden death battle to reach the final of the ISAF Nations Cup Regional Final for Asia in Dubai, UAE, after ending their semi-final match tied at 2-2 this evening.
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With the drama mounting, the decisive match was abandoned after the wind dropped completely at Dubai International Marine Club. After GRAHAM and SOYER complete their showdown in the morning Cedric LE REST's (UAE) crew from the host club will take on Mahesh RAMCHANDRAN (IND) and Asian Sailing Champions India in the other semi-final, with the final to follow in the afternoon.

Original Story...

The UAE's young sailing team today set their sights on the 2006 Asian Games in December as the wind turned its back on the ISAF Nations Cup Regional Final for Asia in Dubai, UAE. With the conditions producing barely of whisper across the Dubai waters only two matches have been completed today.

The Jebel Ali Sailing Club team skippered by Christopher GRAHAM struck the first blow in the semi-finals of the ISAF Grade 2 Regional Final when they took an immediate 1-0 lead over the Turkey team skippered by Onursal SOYER in their best of five match racing series.

As the faint winds off Dubai International Marine Club were reduced to a whisper, no more racing was possible by mid afternoon, leaving Asian Sailing Champions India, skippered by Mahesh RAMCHANDRAN, still waiting to start their semi-final against Cedric LE REST's (UAE) crew from the host club.

When racing resumed the Turkish tram quickly struck back with a win to level their semi-final clash with LE REST at 1-1.

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The UAE team will take part in summer
training clinics in Italy as part of their
preparations for the Doha Asian Games
© Tony LEWIS
While both of the UAE national teams failed to reach the knockout stages following a three-day round robin series of match racing, the Emirates' 20-strong squad were quickly told to focus on the Doha Asian Games in December.

Preparing For Doha

Italian coach Raymond TONELLI announced an intensive training programme for the 20 strong UAE squad, from which a five man crew will be selected to represent the UAE in Doha, Qatar.

After preparations at Dubai International Marine Club in the weeks ahead, TONELLI will assemble the young UAE squad in Italy for two summer training clinics in July and August. A further clinic and more intensive training will be conducted in Dubai in November before the UAE team is selected for the Asian Games.

'We've got some very talented young sailors,' said TONELLI. 'They are all very keen to learn, and they will gain from their experience in the Nations Cup this week.

'You have to remember that they are very young and have been competing against crews who are much more senior and experienced. They have a lot of hard work ahead of them, especially in gaining a fuller understanding of the rules of match racing and how to use

them to their advantage. But they will only get better.'

Although they also failed to make the knockout stages in Dubai, the UAE ladies team skippered by Bekky BRITTON will be in the ISAF Grade 1 Grand Final line up in Crosshaven, Ireland in September, going through as the only all ladies crew in the qualifying round.

ISAF Nations Cup Regional Final - Asia Results

Semi-Finals

Onursal SOYER (TUR) vs. Christopher GRAHAM (UAE), 2-2
Mahesh RAMCHANDRAN (IND) vs. Cedric LE REST (UAE)

Round Robin

1. Mahesh RAMCHANDRAN (IND), 11-1
2. Onursal SOYER (TUR), 11-1
3. Christopher GRAHAM (UAE), 6-6
4. Cedric LE REST (UAE), 5-7
5. Ahmed SHAHEEN (UAE), 4-8
6. Yousuf KHALID MOHAMMAD (UAE), 2-10
7. Bekky BRITTON (UAE), 2-10

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

Tony LEWIS. Image, Action from today's semi-final:© Tony LEWIS
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