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28 October 2005, 12:50 pm
HO Impresses On Home Waters
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Hong Kong Windsurfing Championship 2005
Hong Kong

The Sailing Instructions called for a long day on the water for both the Race Committee and competitors at the Hong Kong Windsurfing Championship, with a long distance race scheduled for the morning with a geometric race in the afternoon. It proved to be a day for the local sailors with HO Chi Ho (HKG) recording an impressive win.
Due to the wind shifting the Race Committee wisely postponed the start of the first race by half an hour. The course was a windward/leeward followed by a reach out to Castle Rocks (south of Hong Kong Island) and then a reach back to the finish in Stanley Bay. There was a general consensus amongst the coaches that the RS:X would probably perform less well in the windward/leeward leg but would come into it's element during the reaching legs.

With one start for all classes and divisions meant that with 127 sailors on the start line it was critical to be able to start in clean air in order to avoid being buried all the way to the top mark. Olympic Champion Gal FRIDMAN's (ISR) tactical decision to take the pin end did not pay off and he ended up being covered with ten seconds to the start gun. The Mistral sailors in light and disturbed air managed to take the lead to round the top mark in first to fourth places, with local sailor Ho Chi Ho leading the RS:X fleet at the top mark and finding a bullet to start planing down to the bottom mark. In host pursuit of the Mistral sailors HO quickly took the lead on the reach, with fellow countrymen CHENG Kwok Fai, MA Kwok Po and Thailand's Ek BOONSAWAD following in quick procession.

In order of safety for the long race there was a five minute time limit from the bottom mark to the gybe mark. With a Mistral sailor setting the clock ticking two thirds of the fleet failed to reach the mark in time and were scored DNF. Included in this pack of sailors was FRIDMAN, who missed the cut off by seconds much to the dismay of his coach.

By the time the coach boat was able to get to Castle Rocks the lead RS:X sailors were already around. With the wind coming in gusts down the race course it was nerve racking to see if HO could reach to the finish with CHENG and BOONSAWAD barrelling down the course. HO sailed into a gust to take the gun with CHENG and BOONSAWAD taking second and third respectively.

With the breeze starting to drop the Race Committee kept the sailors on the beach until it became steady. During the break double Olympic medallist Mike GEBHARDT (USA) kept the sailors entertained with freestyle tricks on the water until the Race Committee at 1400 hours local time announced there would be no more racing that day.

HO gave his thoughts after the race on the new RS:X equipment and Olympic sailing, 'I think that the RS:X will bring more competitors to Olympic sailing and I find the RS:X very exciting and sometimes scary due to the speeds which can be reached on the equipment.'

He put his success in the Regatta down to local knowledge in the gusty conditions as he has been sailing at Stanley Beach for the past 15 years. HO has only been training on the new Olympic equipment for the past two weeks and his current lead over the Olympic gold medallist bodes well for his future as a force to contend with in 2008.

Ailsa Angus (As Amended By ISAF). Image, It proved to be a difficult day in Hong Kong for Gal FRIDMAN:© Neil Pryde Ltd.
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