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4 February 2006, 11:54 am
Aspiring Olympians Battle In New Zealand
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Sail Auckland 2006
Auckland, New Zealand

Over 350 sailors are expected on Auckland harbour over Waitangi weekend for the annual ISAF Grade 2 Sail Auckland Regatta in New Zealand. The four day regatta starting this Friday 3 February is supported by Ports of Auckland and will host top New Zealand Olympic class sailors, as well as some internationals that have travelled to Auckland for the event.
Sail Auckland got underway yesterday at Kohimarama Yacht Club for the Olympic and invited classes with light and shifty winds delaying the start of racing, and hampering race one for some fleets. However by mid afternoon conditions were ideal and the Yachting New Zealand Olympic Squad sailors took full advantage to top the leaderboards in several of the fleets, form which they continued through to today.

A lack of breeze hampered the start of racing again on day two today, however all eight of the Sail Auckland fleets have at least five races under the belt in the twelve race regatta. Junior Sail Auckland also started today. Racing resumes tomorrow at midday.

MURDOCH And ALEH Shine In The Lasers

Andrew MURDOCH's (NZL) lead over the Laser fleet has reached a ten point margin today, however it was Australian Tom SLINGSBY who crossed the line first in races four and five, improving greatly from a poor performance on day one. After five races MURDOCH has 13 points, Blair MCLAY (NZL) is his closest rival on 23 points, with Michael BULLOT (NZL) behind in third on 26 points. While MURDOCH looks solid at the top, the leaderboard is likely to shuffle once the one race discard comes into play after six races are completed.

Jo ALEH (NZL) dominates in the Laser Radial having a great day on the water scoring two bullets in races four and five. Yachting New Zealand Academy Coach Ian NEELY is pleased with the form of both MURDOCH and ALEH.

'Jo made some improvements today. She 'cleaned-up'. I'm happy with the way both Jo and Andrew are sailing, smart racing from both of them,' said NEELY. 'The Laser fleet has some close racing, it's good to see.'

ALEH has a nine point lead on Malo LESEIGNEUR (FRA) in the mixed Laser Radial fleet. Her nearest rival in the women's division is Sara WINTHER (NZL) who sits on 41 points after five races and in fifth place overall.

Kiwis Strong On The RS:X

Jon-Paul TOBIN (NZL) extended his lead in the men's RS:X fleet and now has a four point margin over Tom ASHLEY (NZL), the winner of the ISAF Grade 3 RS:X New Zealand Championship in second. YNZ Academy Coach Paul PAGE explains that the light winds make sailing the new board interesting.

'Conditions were very tricky. On a day like today it's about playing the puffs of breeze. All the New Zealand boys identified that early, they've seen it before and they did the job pretty well, especially Dave ROBERTSON,' said PAGE. 'Yesterday's racing was extremely exhilarating to watch, but today wasn't great.'

In the women's RS:X, Kiwi Anna EASON overtook Nikola GIRKE (CAN) to hold the lead after day two. Along with ASHLEY, EASON won the National Championship last weekend in Auckland.

Tight In The Tornados

Aaron MCINTOSH and Bruce KENDALL (NZL) remain at the top of the Tornado leaderboard after five races however they now hold equal points with Carolijn BROUWER (NED) and Sebastien GODFRIOD (BEL). MCINTOSH and KENDALL have three wins from five races, race four today going to Brett SELLERS and Nigel WILLIAMS (NZL).

Dan SLATER (NZL) hit the water today showing his three competitors in the Finn class how it is done. One of five YNZ Olympic Squad sailors taking part in Sail Auckland, SLATER won both race four and five.

In the 420 fleet, the on form Carl EVANS and Peter BURLING (NZL) team retain their lead and have built a ten point margin over second place. 2005 New Zealand Youth team duo Georgina HILL and Michelle KENNEDY had a good day on the water and moved up the board into second place, overtaking Mike SNOW-HANSEN and Josh MCCORMACK (NZL), who are in third at this halfway stage in the regatta.

Junior Sail Auckland got underway today with racing in the Optimist, P Class, Starling, Splash and Techno board classes.

180 sailors in 140 boats are taking part in Sail Auckland's four day Olympic and invited classes regatta, including 30 international sailors from Great Britain, Australia, Europe, Asia and America. Adding to the numbers on the water are the youngsters competing in the Junior Sail Auckland.

Sail Auckland is supported by Ports of Auckland.

Jodie PERKINS (As Amended By ISAF) Image, Sara WINTHER trails Jo ALEH in the Laser Radial:© Jeff CROW, Sport the Library at Sail Melbourne
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