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13 August 2008, 05:02 am
Smooth Start For TUNNICLIFFE In Laser Radial
Anna Tunnicliffe of the United States of America
Anna Tunnicliffe of the USA holds the lead after a consistent start on day one for the Laser Radial fleet

2008 Beijing Olympic Games
Qingdao, China

American world #1 Anna TUNNICLIFFE got off to a good start in her campaign for gold at the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition and holds the early lead in the Women's One Person Dinghy - Laser Radial event.
Fourth and fifth place for Anna TUNNICLIFFE (USA) in Tuesday's opening races were enough to give her the lead in the series.

The American skipper, who won the Test Event her in Qingdao last year and is renowned for her consistent performances in the otherwise unpredictable Laser Radial fleet, said she took inspiration from the performance of her US team mates in the Aquatics Center in Qingdao, "I was quite nervous in the morning, but watching the USA swimming team getting the gold medal motivated me far more than anything. Within ten minutes, I was out on the sea with no pressure at all."

Competitors were held ashore for one hour as race officials waited for the breeze to stabilise and it wasn't until after 14:00 before racing started. Once on the water, the Race Committee delayed the Radial as they twice moved the pin end start boat to accommodate the wind direction and make for a fair start line in the bending light breeze.

"It was tough sailing, tricky in both races, and whilst my speed was good at times, it wasn't at others," said TUNNICLIFFE, who had the opportunity to finish third, but saw Gintare VOLUNGEVICIUTE (LTE), fourth overall, sail through her on the last leg to the finish.

Despite not winning a race, TUNNICLIFFE's consistency has ensured her a two-point lead over Belgium's Evi VAN ACKER who comfortably won race 1 from Penny CLARK (GBR) and then finished tenth in race 3.

Like VAN ACKER, CLARK could not match her opening performance in the day's second race. "I got a really good start and took the right path to the windward mark. I sail fairly consistently in this sort of breeze, so I expected to do well. I'm disappointed in my second race [she finished 22nd] because it was a wasted opportunity," she said.

Reigning World Champion Sarah STEYAERT (FRA) is third overall and just one point away from VAN ACKER after scoring a win in race 2.

The world # 2 and China's hope, Lijia XU, had a mixed day, finishing 24th in race 1, but lifting to third in race 2, for 14th overall. She will have to work hard to make her way to the top of the standings. World #3 Sarah BLANCK (AUS) went a little better finishing sixth and 11th for fifth overall. "It was not an ideal day, but we've got lots of regatta left. I had a good start, but it didn't pay off," she said.

Competition in the 10-race Opening Series, to be followed by the decisive Medal Race, continues on Wednesday, from 13:00.

Overall Results - click here

ISAF (source: Olympic News Service)
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