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17 August 2008, 11:23 pm
ASHLEY Makes His Move In Difficult Conditions To Lead Men's RS:X Fleet
Tom Ashley of New Zealand
Tom Ashley of New Zealand has moved into the overall lead

2008 Beijing Olympic Games
Qingdao, China

World Champion Tom ASHLEY (NZL) is five points clear of the field, after wet and windy conditions for the RS:X boards in Sunday's two races upset the pecking order.
"Epic sailing conditions!" was how Tom ASHLEY (NZL) described the day eight in Qingdao. The New Zealander won last year's Test Event in Qingdao and is also the reigning World Champion. He showed why on Sunday, moving from fourth overall to first with airborne sailing in the lumpy seas. In an easterly breeze of 16 knots which increased to above 20 knots for the second race, Casper BOUMAN (NED) showed why he's a renowned heavy-air specialist with two race wins. However BOUMAN had struggled in the light wind conditions earlier in the series and even with two bullets only lies 14th overall.

ASHLEY though is quick in both light and heavier wind, giving him a distinct advantage over some of his rivals at the top of the leaderboard. Up until Saturday the series was led by Shahar ZUBARI (ISR). He started the day well finishing race 6 just behind ASHLEY in sixth place, but as the wind increased his performance dipped and he crossed the line 19th in race 7 to drop to third overall. It was an even worse day for Hong Kong's King Yin CHAN, second overall going into Sunday's race. CHAN clearly struggled in the breezy conditions with finishes of 33rd and 21st sending him tumbling down the leaderboard to fifth overall. Julien BONTEMPS (FRA), showed that like ASHLEY he is strong in all conditions with an eighth and a second place lifting him up to second overall.

Although it turned out to be a great day for ASHLEY, it didn't get off the best start as he struggled at the first start. "The first race got off to a pretty bad beginning as I chose the wrong end of the start line and struggled to get going on the first upwind I passed a bunch of boards on the first downwind and a couple more on each leg to end up fifth in the race, just ahead of rivals ZUBARI and Nick DEMPSEY [(GBR)]," revealed the New Zealander.

The second race of the day, race 7 of the Men's RS:X Opening Series ran a little smoother for the new overall leader, "The second race went much better for me. I had a great start and was with the leaders for the whole race, sailing conservatively and not having to take any risks to catch up. I rounded the top mark seventh and improved to third as the race went on and a few guys made mistakes," said ASHLEY.

The final three races of the Opening Series are scheduled for tomorrow starting at 11:00 to make the most of the breezier conditions forecast for the morning.

Overall Results - click here

ISAF (source: Olympic News Service)
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