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3 August 2006, 08:24 am
XU Leads By Eight As RAILEY Slips
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Laser Radial World Championships 2006
Marina del Rey, California, USA

China's Lijia XU has moved into an eight point lead at ISAF Grade W Laser Radial World Championships where the big winds continued in Marina del Rey, USA yesterday. Meanwhile, defending champion and World number one Paige RAILEY (USA) suffered from a second yellow flag to leave her title hopes dangling by a thread.
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Two days earlier RAILEY, the defending champion who was struggling in the Laser Radial Worlds, allowed that, 'I've got to step it up.'

In light of the ill wind that blew her way on Wednesday, that is now an understatement. Minutes after an encouraging fifth in the day's first race, she was compelled to withdraw from the second.

Her boat was okay; the only thing broken was her heart. She is in seventh place, 27 points behind the new leader, XU of China.

Sculling Penalty For RAILEY

RAILEY was yellow flagged by an on water judge for sculling - i.e., thrashing her tiller to and fro to gain propulsion - at the start. Because it was her second such violation of the week - the first drew only a double penalty turn - she had to drop out and take a last place score or lose the option of using the race as a discard at the end of the six final series races through to Friday. She returned to the California Yacht Club launch ramp under tow by her coach, reportedly in tears.

RAILEY, who yesterday completed a year as the Laser Radial World number one in the latest release of the ISAF World Sailing Rankings, started the final series in eleventh place in the 45 boat gold fleet, which became the elite group after the first six of twelve races comprising the qualifying series. The other 44 boats are now sailing for silver fleet honours.

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Defending champion Paige RAILEY is towed home after rules violation in the second race on Wednesday
© Rich ROBERTS

RAILEY, 19, of Florida, actually was fifth before the first discard kicked in after Tuesday's races but her worst discard was a 12th, while France's Solenne BRAIN temporarily moved into first place by dropping a 21st and XU skyrocketed into third by tossing a 33rd.

XU Enjoying The Breeze

XU is thriving with a string of 2,3,3 finishes in the big winds that blessed the last three races. After hitting 16 knots late on Tuesday, the breeze started at 15 on Wednesday and built to 17, with seas of three to four feet that tossed the little boats like corks.

And XU is learning to love it.

As she prepared to launch her boat Wednesday morning, she noted that she did not particularly like strong wind but said, 'No matter what the wind is, I think I can beat it.'

After posting a pair of thirds, she said, modestly, 'I'm happy that I have made some progress. Before, I'm not good in strong wind at all, especially upwind. We used to sail a Europe and it was much easier compared to Laser boats.'

XU, 19, lives in Shanghai. Ironically, her newfound skills may not help her in the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition in Qingdao, China.

'The wind is very light, the current is strong, and the worst thing is the heavy fog,' she said. 'It will take lots of patience.'

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Tania ELIAS CALLES ruled the
waves in race one
© Rich ROBERTS

Bullet For Mexico

The gold winners on Wednesday were Tania ELIAS CALLES (MEX) and Sari MULTALA (FIN), who stand ninth and 13th. ELIAS CALLES' problem was that she followed her wire to wire win with a 28th, which is now her discard.

'I just had a great start in the first race and kept it going,' she said, holding an ice bag on her left shoulder. 'But I'm breaking down. I hurt my shoulder and my knee [before the event] and they're still very sore.'

Asked about her prospects of representing Mexico in the Olympics, she said, 'That's an easy one. I'm the only one' - meaning, the only Mexican sailor with Olympic aspirations. 'The issue is to qualify the country.'

Like many of these competitors, she switched from a Europe, which she sailed to 17th place at Sydney in 2000 and twelfth place at Athens in 2004.

'The Laser Radial is more demanding than the Europe and there is more competition, so it's great,' she said.

Women's Top Ten

Pos Nation Skipper R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 R8 Pts
1 CHN Lijia XU 6 4 6 (33) 3 2 3 3 27
2 USA Anna TUNNICLIFFE 3 1 3 7 7 9 (24) 5 35
3 FRA Sarah STEYAERT 1 24 (32) 1 6 1 2 2 37
4 POL Katarzyna SZOTYNSKA 12 7 1 2 7 6 (27) 8 43
5 FRA Solenne BRAIN 6 2 2 5 1 21 9 (29) 46
6 GER Petra NIEMANN 5 1 4 (25) 1 16 16 6 49
7 USA Paige RAILEY 2 5 10 8 12 12 5 (dnf) 54
8 SWE Karin SODERSTROM 7 6 9 4 2 8 19 (26) 55
9 MEX Tania ELIAS CALLES 8 8 8 3 9 23 1 (28) 60
10 NZL Jo ALEH 5 21 1 1 9 17 (36) 18 72

Men's Top Ten

Pos Nation Skipper R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 R8 Pts
1 GBR Jon EMMETT 19 2 (25) 16 6 1 5 7 56
2 NED Steven Le FEVRE 4 4 1 (41) 15 2 4 31 61
3 NED Steven KROL 2 1 (20) 15 3 19 7 19 66
4 IRL Ryan SEATON 5 25 9 (46) 13 7 2 10 71
5 BRA Fabio PILLAR 16 12 5 1 4 9 (30) 27 74
6 SIN Seng Leong KOH 12 3 (33) 7 24 8 18 4 76
7 AUS Ryan PALK 9 20 (21) 5 11 13 21 15 94
8 NZL Max ANDREWS (34) 14 26 8 8 3 25 11 95
9 KOR SAUGKYU Kim 28 (48) 10 29 12 5 15 5 104
10 BER Alexander KIRKLAND 23 11 14 (50) 14 21 11 12 106

The Laser Radial Worlds are supported by sponsors Nestlé, producer of Arrowhead Water and PowerBar©; Vanguard Boats, Sailing World Magazine, Body Glove and the John B. and Nelly Llanos Kilroy Foundation.

For a complete list of all the news about the Laser Radial World Championships CLICK HERE.

Rich ROBERTS (As Amended By ISAF). Image, China's Lijia XU leads Paige RAILEY near end of day four's first race:© Rich ROBERTS
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