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10 August 2008, 11:33 am
MORRISON And RHODES Hot On Day One For 49ers
Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes of Great Britain
Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes of Great Britain hold the overall lead after three consistent finishes today

2008 Beijing Olympic Games
Qingdao, China

Britain's Stevie MORRISON and Ben RHODES proved the value of consistency in the opening races of the 49er Skiff event at the Qingdao Olympic Sailing Center, taking the early lead in the series.
Winners of the 2007 World Championship and Olympic test event in Qingdao last year, StevieMORRISON and Ben RHODES (GBR) started as one of the favourites and 4, 3, 5 finishes give them the overall lead on 12 points.

MORRISON commented: "This was only the first day. We have a long series ahead of us so we can't get too cocky, but obviously we had a good day. Let's put it this way - we'II certainly sleep better tonight than we might otherwise have done."

The skipper, 29, also commented on the third race in which the breeze lightened and officials moved the course close to shore, allowing spectators the sight of the fast skiffs up close and personal as they tacked just off the sea wall at the Olympic venue.

"It was a bit hairy. We were worried about being over the start early, it was so light. The water was so choppy close to the wall, so that kicked up some waves in a really light breeze. It could have been easy to capsize - but it was great for media and spectators and we understand that."

Italian brothers and ISAF World Ranked #2 crew Pietro SIBELLO and Gianfranco SIBELLO (ITA) won the third race to hold on to second overall after finishing third in race 1 and ninth in race 2. They are one point behind the Britons.

"When we sailed in the Athens Games, we were a little stressed, partly because of the importance of the regatta. We are treating this Olympic Regatta like any regatta. We are much more relaxed now and our results today show that," Gianfranco said.

Although they did not win a race, Jonas WARRER and Martin IBSEN (DEN) did enough to hold third overall. Like the two pairs in front of them on the leaderboard, the Danes sailed consistently, ending 2, 4, 10 in the three races for 16 points.

Athens gold medallists and the World Ranked #1 pair, Iker MARTINEZ and Xabier FERNANDEZ (ESP) got their series off to a perfect start, winning race 1 with a perfectly executed gybe near the finish. However things went downhill from there, with bad starts pushing them back in the next two races to finishes of 10 and 17. They lie eighth overall.

Race 2 honours went to 2008 World Champions Nathan OUTTERIDGE and Ben AUSTIN (AUS), but they were 15th in the first race after hitting the windward mark and needing to sail a penalty. The Australians are fifth overall after finishing seventh in the third race.

The 49er series continues tomorrow with races 4, 5 and 6 scheduled.

Overall Results - click here
ISAF (source: Olympic News Service)
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