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13 January 2006, 11:17 am
Excellent Final Day of Racing for the Entire RS:X Fleet
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RS:X Oceanic Championship 2006
Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne pulled out all the stops for the final day of racing for the entire fleet at the RS:X Oceanic Championship, taking place as part of the ISAF Grade 1 Sail Melbourne in Australia. With a later start to allow the breeze to kick in, beautiful sunshine and 15 knots of breeze greeted the competitors as they arrived at Sandringham Yacht Club.
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With the 49er fleet still racing at the designated start time for the RS:X, Race Officials wisely kept the windsurfers onshore for another half an hour to avoid problems with the two fleets mixing.

The combined women's and youth fleet as per the rest of the week, started first with a clean start with MA Kwok Po (HKG), Gourand SOLENN (FRA) and CHAN Wai Man (HKG) leading off the start line. Unfortunately youth sailor Howard CHUNG (TPE) fell over at the start and watched while the rest of the fleet sailed away.

At the first bottom mark rounding Hong Kong's Youth sailor MA led his rival and the rest of the women's fleet by a clear 30 seconds. Victorian local Olympic hopeful Anna DAVIS (AUS) took the mark next, followed by CHEN Quibin (CHN), SOLENN (FRA), CHAN Wai Kei (HKG) and Yasuko KOSUGE (JPN). Formula Windsurfing World Champion Allison SHREEVE's day was not starting as hoped and she well back in the fleet.

MA continued to expand his lead on the next two legs and finished over two minutes in front. CHEN took the lead to take the bullet for the women's fleet closely followed by DAVIS, KOSUGE and CHAN.

The men's start got away cleanly with the sailors speeding down the line with pace and attitude. Steve ALLEN (AUS) starting on port saw an advantage on the right hand side of the course as he rounded the bottom mark in front of the next competitor by over 20 seconds. The next four competitors rounded very close with currently overall leader, Casper BOUMAN (NED) taking fourth place just ahead of Aaron GADORFALVI (HUN). BOUMAN continued to pick off the fleet to finish behind ALLEN and in front of team mate Joeri VAN DIJK (NED).

For the second race of the day the breeze continued as per the first race but the Port Philip Bay chop proceeded to increase producing three to four foot steep close waves, producing an aerial spectacular for the next 45 minutes of racing. The start was easily won by SHREEVE who used her Formula skills to blast down the line and start at the pin. SHREEVE's trend of being first continued in the race rounding in first place closely followed by MA, CHEN and youth sailor CHUNG. The change in positions was minimal and SHREEVE dominated in the lumpier more trying conditions.

Consistent winds throughout the course meant that there was no real course advantage left or right with 90% of the men starting on Starboard. The ALLEN and BOUMAN bout continued during the second race with the nerves finally getting to BOUMAN, who just before the gate on the second lap dropped his sail letting ALLEN blast past and team mate VAN DIJK take second place. At the finish of the men's race ALLEN led by over a minute to BOUMAN, VAN DIJK, JP TOBIN (NZL), Ertugrul ICINGIR (TUR) all finishing within ten seconds of each other.

The top ten in the two fleets will now go through to contest a final Medal Race tomorrow, with double weighted scores, meaning victory in both fleets is still wide open.

For all the news on Sail Melbourne CLICK HERE.

Ailsa ANGUS (As Amended by ISAF). Image, Everything looks set for an exciting last day in Melbourne:© Jeff CROW, Sport the Library at Sail Melbourne
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