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25 September 2006, 08:35 am
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IFDS Blind Sailing World Championship 2006
Newport, Rhode Island, USA

After two days of competition, and with five races under their belts, competitors at the 2006 IFDS Blind Sailing World Championship in Newport, Rhode Island, USA were given an unexpected day off courtesy of a weather system that was predicted to deliver gale force winds accompanied by eight to eleven foot seas.
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After evaluating the weather data over several hours, Regatta Chairman Lyn COMFORT made the cancellation announcement to competitors representing nine nations who had been monitoring the conditions on Newport harbour from their vantage position on the upper lawn of the New York Yacht Club. The announcement received positive feedback (one of the Spanish sailors noted that the hazy, low visibility conditions were very hard on the sighted guides) and was quickly followed by applause when it was further announced that Monday's planned lay day had been rearranged to accommodate racing between the morning and evening social functions.

The vision classification of the skipper determines in which division each four person team is competing with the totally blind B1s and the vision impaired B2s racing New York Yacht Club's fleet of 23' Sonars, and the least vision impaired B3s racing in Sail Newport's J/22s. Regatta rules mandate that only a blind sailor can steer, while the other blind crew trims the sails. Verbal information provided by two sighted guides allows the blind skipper and crew to tactically position the boat as it navigates the race course.

USA Lead In B1 Division

At the conclusion of the first four races on the opening day of the championship, Norway's 2002 B1 World silver medallists - Thomas JOHANNESEN, Jostein STENEVIK, Stian SOLTVEDT and Jon LYSTRUP - were tied on points with the USA Massachusetts team of Sengil INKIALA and Deborah KEATIN, with sighted guides Ken LEGLER and Lisa O'CONNOR. Norway won the opening race of the series and despite matching scores with USA-Massachusetts, found they were second overall when the Americans won the final race of the day. Three points back was New Zealand's Rob AISLABIE with Dave ALLERTON, Wayne HOLDT, and his son, Simon HOLDT. After winning the lone race on day two, in 20 knots of wind, the Kiwis leapfrogged Norway as USA-Massachusetts, with a second place finish, remained atop the scoreboard.

Kiwis Top B2 Division

New Zealand skipper Paulien EITJES with Dick LANCASTER and sighted crew Gary SMITH and Scott BURLING are the leaders in the B2 division with eight points. The Kiwis have won three of five races in their seven boat fleet and hold a slim three point lead over the 2002 B2 World bronze medallists from Great Britain - skipper Lucy HODGES, visually impaired crew John SIMPSON and sighted guides Chris SINCLAIR and Gary BUTLER. The USA-Massachusetts team of skipper Matt CHAO and visually impaired crew Nina KAGAN, with sighted guides Bill RAPP and Peter FRISCH, are third overall with 16 points.

Florida Team Pull Away In B3 Division

After two days of racing, the USA-Florida team helmed by J.P. CREIGNOU with Jan BARTLESON and sighted guides Colin PARK and Patty FORRESTEL have established an eight point lead over the defending champions from Great Britain. GBR B3 skipper Gary KIRBY, visually impaired crew Toby DAVEY, and sighted guides Martin MOOD and Ian SHIRRA, moved from fourth to second overall with their win of Saturday's single race. GBR is tied on points with New Zealand's Eddie MOREE and Shannon LESLIE, who are sailing with sighted guides Brian TRUBOVICH and Tony POOLMAN.

Racing resumes today and concludes on Wednesday 27 September when awards will be followed by the closing ceremony at the conclusion of the day's racing.

Sponsors of the 2006 IFDS Blind Sailing World Championship are Best Western The Mainstay Inn, The Carroll Center for the Blind, the Rhode Island Sailing Foundation and The Sailing Foundation of New York. Also, Harken, Koch Eye Associates, Narragansett Beer, Nasiff Fruit Company, Newport Specialty Foods, Newport Tent Company, Recordings for the Blind & Dyslexic, Herreshoff Marine Museum, Crystal Spring Water Company, Seaman's Church Institute, Rolex Watch U.S.A., North Sails, Nautor's Swan, Newport Community Band at Salve Regina University and J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines. The championship is organized by the NYYC, IFDS, Blind Sailing International and US SAILING.

For all the news from the IFDS Blind Sailing World Championship CLICK HERE.

Jan HARLEY (As Amended by ISAF). Image, The Great Britain B1 team at the weather mark:© Amory ROSS
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