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9 July 2005, 10:01 am
First Day of Finals Series
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29er World Championship 2005
San Francisco, USA

With three days of qualifying races completed, the Final Series of the 6th Annual 29er World Championships started yesterday, Friday 8 July. After a week of strong winds, heavy currents and fierce competition, Dylan FLETCHER and Nick HOLLIS (GBR) lead the charge but after three races were completed yesterday Australia's Jacqui BONNITCHA and Euan McNICOL have taken over the top of the leaderboard.
More than 150 sailors from eleven nations have been competing in the week long regatta. Upon completion of the qualifying series on Thursday, the fleet was divided into Gold, Silver and Bronze fleets with the top 25 boats competing in the Gold Class.

While regatta officials had hoped to conduct 10 races in the qualifying series, the final two races had to be cancelled yesterday due to heavy conditions. Over the course of the week-long regatta the weather has varied significantly challenging competitors to showcase a broad range of sailing skill and ability. 'Its been shiftier and puffier than usual, which can make for tough racing, but its been fun,' commented Jen MORGAN of San Francisco who in tenth place is the highest ranking American woman. 'Its more tactical, but its a strong field of competitors and we've seen some great racing as a result,' she added.

Going into the finals series in the number one position, Dylan FLETCHER and Nick HOLLIS (GBR) began their finals as they will wish to continue, with a bullet. They did not however make things easy for themselves and finished eighth and tenth in races two and three to finish day one of the finals in third place overall. Jacqui BONNITCHA and Euan McNICOL (AUS) had a more consistent with a fourth in race one, first in race two and eighth in race three and subsequently top the leaderboard with 16 points as they finished the qualifiers in third place. Just three points behind BONNITCHA are fellow Austrlians David O'CONNOR and Scott BABBAGE whose series of one eighth and two seconds leaves them one point ahead of FLETCHER and HOLLIS.

The third bullet of the day went to Justin VISSER and Simon WHEELER (GBR) who finished 15 in the qualifier series but claimed seventh in the first two races before rounding out their day with a bullet. The British pair are fourth on the leaderboard but ten points behind FLETCHER and HOLLIS.

The 29er is recognized as one of the fastest and most thrilling fleets in the world and was recently selected as the double-handed dinghy equipment for the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championships in 2007. With boats crossing at 20-plus knots, crews out on trapezes and day-glo spinnakers the 29er World Championships have brought the excitement of first-class, international sailing to San Francisco Bay and attracted significant numbers of spectators to Crissy Field each day.

'Its been a great week of racing so far and we're looking forward to even more excitement this weekend,' proclaimed St. Francis Yacht Club Commodore Doug Holm. 'The St. Francis Yacht Club is dedicated to the development of youth sailing and we've been proud to host such strong a strong field of competitors from all across the globe.'

The final series continues through Sunday, July 12 with racing off of Crissy Field and the San Francisco City Front.

Scott Marx (As Amended by ISAF)
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