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14 May 2002, 05:18 pm
Defending Champion JJ Isler Makes an Early Exit
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2002 Laureus Regatta

Yesterday and today has seen the third edition of the Laureus Regatta with sailing stars, the stars of the small and big screen as well as a number of sporting celebrities racing in the bay of Monaco.
Italy's Francesco Bruni, Frenchman Thierry Peponnet, and Great Britain's Ben Ainslie and America's Dawy Riley Today Contesting Semi-finals

Today will see a new Mercedes owner after "JJ" Isler of the United States, winner of last year's Laureus Regatta, was eliminated from yesterday's heats following some close racing in the Nautor Swan yachts.

Both Francesco Bruni of Italy and Thierry Peponnet of France tendered perfect 4-0 scores at the end of the day and progressed to today's semi-finals with Britain's Ben Ainslie - last year's beaten finalist - and American Dawn Riley.

The wind was extremely fickle yesterday and, after the first flight of four races had been held in the morning, there was a three-hour delay to allow the wind to steady in both strength and direction. Three more flights of races were then held.

The two most outstanding races both concerned Ian Walker, the skipper of GBR Challenge, the British campaign for the America's Cup. In the first race, Sydney Olympic gold medallist Ainslie faced Walker, a silver medallist at the same Games, at the start and held him at bay to the finish.

"That was hard but Ben sailed well," said Walker. "I look forward to sailing again tomorrow and recover something from this regatta.' In another race, against "JJ" Isler, the lead changed four times and Walker was leading into the finish line when the American came from behind, blanketed the Englishman's sails and won by less than a metre.

Today's semi finals see Peponnet meet Riley while Bruni takes on Ainslie, his former rival from the Laser class.

The Laureus Regatta coincides with the Laureus World Sports Award, which were created in 2000 to pay homage to the annual achievements of the largest names in the sporting world.

Alongside the two other sporting events proposed for this occasion (the Laureus Golf Challenge and the Laureus Tennis Trophy), the Laureus Regatta is a match-racing event, contested in Swans. Racing will consist of a series of round robins consisting of 30 minute races, which will allow two crews to qualify for the final Laureus 'Sport for Good'.

At the end of the two days, each skipper will receive a limited edition watch with the winner driving away in a new Mercedes-Benz CLK 240.

Spectators on the water have included well known personalities from the sports and movie world including Catherine Zeta-Jones who took to the water today.

Unfortunately the 2002 Laureus World Sports Awards do not see a sailor on the shortlist. However last year Vinny Lauwers (AUS) was the recipient of the Awards for Sportsperson with a Disability in recognition of his single-handed non-stop circumnavigation.






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