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6 September 2005, 10:20 am
RS:X Sailors Race For The First Time In China
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Neil Pryde RS:X China International Invitation Tournament 2005
Rizhao, China

The first one design Neil Pryde RS:X windsurfing event is taking place in Rizhao, China with 35 competitors battling for victory. So far it is the home sailors who have dominated with WU Shifu (CHN) a clear leader in the men, whilst SUN Sasa (CHN) and HUANG Yue (CHN) are fighting for control of the women's leaderboard.
Windsurfers from China, Australia, Greece, Hong Kong, Korea, New Zealand and Pakistan are competing at the event in Rizhao hosted by the Chinese Yachting Association. For them it is a great opportunity to try out the new board in race conditions before the inaugural class event in Cadiz, Spain from 30 September-2 October organized by ISAF and the Andalusian Sailing Federation. As well as racing in Cadiz, RS:X sailors will have the opportunity to take part in meetings to help develop the new class.

The RS:X will become part of the ISAF Graded event circuit from 1 January 2006.

On the opening day in Rizhao, a steady north-northeasterly breeze of ten to twelve knots greeted the competitors as they rigged up and headed to the start line. The women's fleet starting first saw a clean start with HUANG leading off the line. She held her lead throughout the race to take line honours with Hayley THOM of New Zealand taking second place, and Chinese sailors following in third, fourth and fifth place.

The 25 strong men's fleet saw a number of competitors a little eager to start the day resulting in a general recall. The race re-started with an individual recall, M. TANVIEIER of Pakistan not realizing he was the guilty one failed to go back resulting in an OCS score. WU took line honours with Korean sailor KIM Hyung Kwon taking second place.

The second race for both the women's and men's fleet started with no recalls but several protest hearings due to half of the men's fleet starting on starboard with the rest starting on port with speed. As in the first race HUANG led off the line to take line honours, whilst in the men's fleet victory went to New Zealand's David ROBERTSON.

The second day of the Neil Pryde RS:X China International Invitation Tournament saw clear blue skies and a steady northeasterly breeze.

With the strong tide pushing competitors over the line, racing for both fleets got under way after three general recalls and two individual recalls. The breeze dropped to seven to nine knots in the first race making it a long morning for the competitors.

In the women's fleet, leader HUANG received an OCS in the first race of the day followed by a DNF and dropped her commanding lead in the event to fall to fifth place overall. Her fellow countrywomen SUN fared better, scoring a second place and a bullet to move her to the top of the leaderboard. THOM moved into second place overall finishing the day with two third places.

In the men's fleet, Jon Paul TOBIN (NZL) dominated the day scoring two bullets. The second race was a closely fought match with WU leading most of the race only to fall at the final gybe mark allowing TOBIN to take the lead. ROBERTSON had a solid day to finish with two thirds taking him to third place overall. The young Greek sailor, Stifanos LEONETIS, was unable to maintain his speed from the early races and finished a disappointing sixth which took him down to fourth place overall. After a great day on the water, TOBIN suffered a massive setback when he was forced toWU back into first overall.

On day three of the Invitation Tournament yesterday the predicted heavier breeze due to the Typhoon sitting off Taiwan did not materialize and the competitors started the day in an average north easterly of nine knots.

In contrast to Sunday's racing, both the men's and women's fleet were underway with no recalls. Throughout the race the wind continued to drop and as predicted in the women's fleet HUANG took first place with THOM second. Greek sailor Angeliki SKARLATON is starting to show her form on the new RS:X equipment and came in third.

In the men's fleet, China's WU took first place, no doubt buoyed by the news that he had moved up a place in both of Sunday's races. ROBERTSON followed him in second with Korea's top sailor, LEE Byung Gun taking third.

With the second start due, the wind dropped to six knots and the Race Committee wisely shortened the course length. New Zealander TOBIN, after receiving a disappointing seventh in the first race, led the race from start to finish with WU taking second. WU now has a 28 point lead overall and even when discards come into play it is doubtful that anyone can overtake him. Second overall is LEE with Greek sailor LEONETIS, fresh from Formula sailing, only three points behind in third.

In the women's race, China's SUN took first with HUANG a surprising third. SKARLATON continued to improve during the day to take second place, moving her up the overall standings to fifth. Discards in the women's overall standings will have a major impact and HUANG will be hoping for at least ten races to be held so that the maximum two discards are implemented and she can get rid of the OCS and DNF she scored in races three and four. Currently after eight races SUN leads from HUANG with THOM in third place.

Racing continues today with two races and a well earned day of rest for the fleet on Wednesday.

Full details of the RS:X Cadiz Race are available via the link below.

Ailsa Angus (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Racing in the Neil Pryde RS:X is getting underway in China:© Neil Pryde
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