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2 August 2006, 08:11 am
BRAIN Leads Into Final Series
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Laser Radial World Championships 2006
Marina del Rey, California, USA

The brisk breeze on order for the ISAF Grade W Laser Radial World Championships finally arrived on Tuesday after two and a half days of single digit zephyrs. Solenne BRAIN (FRA) leads going into the final series just ahead of America's Anna TUNNICLIFFE and 18 year old Chinese sailor Lijia XU.
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Meanwhile defending champion Paige RAILEY (USA) slipped further back.

The extra wind was not universally welcomed, although the introduction of the discard offset some of there higher scores posted. Germany's Petra NIEMANN and BRAIN, sailing in opposite blue and yellow flights of the women's competition, won their races in the opening round but slipped to 16th and 21st places in the second round after the wind swung hard right 30 degrees, revved up from six to 16 knots and kicked up a cotton field of whitecaps on erratic Santa Monica Bay. However BRAIN immediately discarded her 21 to move into a five point lead at the end of the qualifying series.

The change in the conditions meant that suddenly the little Radials were surfing downwind and thrashing through the chop.

'I like it,' NIEMANN, 27, said of the breeze in the day's second race, 'but I didn't get the right shifts.'

On the other hand, if she had her pick, she would take 'medium' conditions any day.

Mixed Results For The Leaders

After six of twelve races scheduled through to Friday, TUNNICLIFFE, the number two in the ISAF World Sailing Rankings, had a seventh and a ninth to fall back to second place, five points behind BRAIN.

XU, the 2005 ISAF Youth Worlds silver medallist, seemed best able to cope with the change in conditions and posted 3,2 scores for the day to move her into a tie for second place with TUNNICLIFFE. Poland's three-time World Champion, Katarzyna SZOTYNSKA is a further two points back in fourth, just ahead of NIEMANN and Karin SÖDERSTRÖM (SWE). World number one and defending champion RAILEY slipped to eleventh with 12,12 scores, 21 points off the pace. European Champion Evi VAN ACKER (BEL) found some form again after a dreadful second day, posting 10,5 to lie just behind RAILEY in twelfth.

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The men's fleet at the start

Now the 89 woman fleet will split into gold and silver groups - the former chasing the World title. Scores in the six qualifying races carry over.

LE FEVRE Moves Clear In Men's Fleet

Steven LE FEVRE (NED) posted a 15th and a second in the men's 71 boat fleet to move ahead of Fabio PILLAR (BRA) after discarding his 41st in Monday's second race. Steven KROL (NED) is third overall. Croatia's Matija LONGIN had an interesting day - first in the wispy first race and 50th in the windy contest to sit 35th overall.

'This is the [normal] August breeze we've been wishing for,' said Bill STUMP, Principal Race Officer for the host California Yacht Club. 'What is it - August first?'

The sudden wind changes occurred when the women's yellow fleet was halfway up the first leg of the second race and the blue boats were a minute and a half short of their starting signal. Stump quickly called for a postponement of the blues, then - realizing the course was suddenly tilted to one side - ordered abandonment of the yellow race.

'When the wind went that far right, everybody on the left was hosed,' STUMP said.

Good call. The wind stayed right the rest of the day, though dropping back down to ten knots at the end.

NIEMANN Learning Fast

But NIEMANN will take it. She has been sailing a Radial only since it was picked as the Olympic equipment for the Women's One Person Dinghy, replacing the Europe, which NIEMANN sailed to tenth and 13th in the last two Olympics at Athens and Sydney.

'When it switched I was a little sad,' she said, 'but it's OK now.'

Liker many of the former Europe sailors who made the switch to the Laser Radial, NIEMANN has seen a steady improvement in her results. She ended last year with an impressive fourth place at the Worlds in Brazil and this year won the class at the ISAF Grade 1 Kiel Week. Lying just eleven points off the lead she will be one to watch through the rest of the week.

Women's Top Ten

Pos Nation Skipper R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 Pts
1 FRA Solenne BRAIN 6 2 2 5 1 (21) 16
2 USA Anna TUNNICLIFFE 3 1 3 7 7 (9) 21
3 CHN Lijia XU 6 4 6 (33) 3 2 21
4 POL Katarzyna SZOTYNSKA (12) 7 1 2 7 6 23
5 GER Petra NIEMANN 5 1 4 (25) 1 16 27
6 SWE Karin SODERSTROM 7 6 (9) 4 2 8 27
7 FRA Sarah STEYAERT 1 24 (32) 1 6 1 33
8 NZL Jo ALEH 5 (21) 1 1 9 17 33
9 GBR Andrea BREWSTER 10 13 (23) 4 5 2 34
10 MEX Tania ELIAS CALLES 8 8 8 3 9 (23) 36

Men's Top Ten

Pos Nation Skipper R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 Pts
1 NED Steven Le FEVRE 4 4 1 (41) 15 2 26
2 BRA Fabio PILLAR (16) 12 5 1 4 9 31
3 NED Steven KROL 2 1 (20) 15 3 19 40
4 GBR Jon EMMETT 19 2 (25) 16 6 1 44
5 SIN Seng Leong KOH 12 3 (33) 7 24 8 54
6 SIN Colin CHENG 26 13 11 4 (29) 4 58
7 AUS Ryan PALK 9 20 (21) 5 11 13 58
8 NZL Max ANDREWS (34) 14 26 8 8 3 59
9 IRL Ryan SEATON 5 25 9 (46) 13 7 59
10 POR Paulo NEVES 8 17 (40) 20 5 23 73

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, Starting views from the pin boat in 16 knots of wind:© Rich ROBERTS
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