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7 March 2002, 08:22 am
Mistral North Americans
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35 entries from 7 countries and 2 continents competed in the 2002 Mistral North American Championship run in conjunction with the Calema Midwinters on the sheltered waters of Banana River. Three races were run on the first day.

Day One, Randy Somnitz (USA), racing at high level for the first time since since losing the US Trials in 2000, shows that he has not lost any of his speed and tactical ability by winning race 1 and taking fourth in race 2. However, unsurprsingly, he cannot maintain the pressure and retires from race 3 worn out by the full on planing conditions. David Mier y Teran (Mex) takes full advantage and is the overnight leader with consistent 2, 3, 1 finishes. The forecast looks good for a windy regatta although the warmth of the sun is going to be decidedly absent.

Day 2 and the predicted cold front descends from the mid west bringing a blast of air cold enough to postpone the shuttle launch scheduled for today. Two back to back races are scheduled for the morning session, both of which are won by Takishima Keisuke (JPN) in fine style. David Mier y Teran (MEX) and Peter Wells (USA) are close behind with Randy Somnitz mixing it with these three at the front of the fleet. Further back there is a battle royal going on in the youth division with Cezariusz Piorczyk (POL), Zac Plavsic (CAN) and Philip Muller (USA) all competing hard to be the best of the rest. Meanwhile Kimberly Birkenfeld I(USA) and Dominique Vallee (CAN) are fighting for dominence in the women's division. Sadly, Takishima's boom fails in the third race and he has to retire. Randy takes full advantage to post his first win of the day with David Mier y Teran (MEX) 2nd and Ben Barger (USA) 3rd.

Day 3 (Day 1 for the calema Midwinters) and race 1 is started in lively conditions. The less skilled sailors in all fleets are having problems. Racing is postponed to allow the rescue boats to sweep up those overcome by the 22>25 knot winds. Sadly, the FW fleet have their races postponed for the rest of the day but the Mistral fleet goes out alone for their second race. Takishima is revelling in the heavy air and posts a 1st and a 2nd. His countryman and room mate Yamanashi Takahito is also putting in a strong performance posting two 3rd places but the surprise package is Tati Frans (AHO), new to One Design racing and competing in his first North Americans, who steps up to =take a 1st and a 4th. Given more time on a One Design, Tati, still only 17, will defintely be a threat to the established names.

Day 4 (Day 2 for the calema Midwinters) and the conditions have moderated considerably. Three races are scheduled with an early start. The organisers are pushing to make up for lost time. Peter Wells (USA) scores three 2nd places and assures himself of a podium position behind Takishima and David Mier y Teran who posts two first places to take the top spot. Tati comes through again to take 3rd in the first race of the day and Dominique Valle (CAN) makes a late charge to beat Kimberly Birkenfeld on a count back from a tie in the women's divsion. Tati Frans (AHO) won the Youth Divsion convincingly.

Racing alongside the Mistral North Americans are the Junior One Class. This is growing strongly in Mexico as evidenced by the size of the team and Patricio Gasque-MieryTeran's convincing series posting 9 wins overall. Jadie De Lille (MEX), a second generation windsurf racer, who came 2nd overall and first girl ahead of Oliver-Tom Schliemann (ESP) 3rd. Although starting off the same line as the rest of the One Design Fleet, the juniors only sailed one windward leg before racing on to the downwind leg on the outer loop and finishing. This format works well and simplifies the race management of the whole event.

The MOD racers enjoyed mixing with some of the stars of the PWA tour and were no doubt impressed by the skills displayed by them in their Freestyle competition. No doubt the appreciation was reciprocated when the Mistral fleet in turn demonstrated their skill by racing in the strong breezes of Day 3.

Rory Ramsden/News Editor
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