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20 August 2008, 06:16 am
ECHAVARRI and PAZ Team To Beat In Tornado Medal Race
Fernando Echavarri (R) and Anton Paz (L) of Spain
Fernando Echavarri (R) and Anton Paz of Spain lead going into the Tornado Medal Race

2008 Beijing Olympic Games
Qingdao, China

Spaniards Fernando ECHAVARRI and Anton PAZ maintained their lead as the Tornado fleet completed their Opening Series on Wednesday and take a three-point lead into Thursday's Medal Race.
Fernando ECHAVARRI and Anton PAZ (ESP), World Champions in 2005 and 2007 finished on 36 points, ahead of world #1 crew Darren BUNDOCK and Glenn ASHBY(AUS) on 39. Santiago LANGE and Carlos ESPINOLA (ARG) ripped around the course and posted two firsts and a ninth to move into third place.

"We knew it would all come down to the Medal Race," said ECHAVARRI. "It's part of the game. We know how it is. Tomorrow is the most important day of our career."

An 8-13 knot breeze blew for much of the day under clear skies. It started at 10-13 knots and went 85 degrees to the right as the afternoon progressed. The 10 teams going into the Medal Race are Spain, Australia, Argentina, Germany, Canada, the Netherlands, Italy, Greece, Great Britain and Austria.

The Tornado fleet rounded the first weather mark of the day in race 8 close together and LANGE and ESPINOLA came out of the jumble in seventh place.

During the next lap and a half they played the angles in the heavy air and pulled into the lead by the final leeward gate, holding it for the rest of the race. Leigh MCMILLAN and Will HOWDEN (GBR) roared through the fleet to finish second. Mitch BOOTH and Pim NIEUWENHUIS (NED) were third.

The Spaniards stole the show around every mark of race 9, while the next six finishers traded positions. Oskar JOHANSSON and Kevin STITTLE (CAN) trailed them by less than a minute throughout the race and McMILLAN and HOWDEN were also in the mix. They finished second and third respectively.

Race 10 started in 8 knots of wind at 130 degrees, The wind then dropped to 5 knots and went as far right as 190 degrees. LANGE and ESPINOLA won, JOHANSSON and STITTLE were second and Johannes POLGAR and Florian SPALTEHOLZ (GER) were third. BUNDOCK and ASHBY posted a crucial fourth place, four places ahead of the Spaniards to bring them within three-points going into the Medal Race.

To swipe the gold from ECHAVARRI and PAZ, BUNDOCK and ASHBY need to put one boat between them and the Spaniards. LANGE and ESPINOLA can also win the gold if they finish three boats ahead of the Spaniards. The Germans need to put eight boats between them and the Spaniards if they are to win the gold.

The points are so close, any of the top eight teams can take a medal.

Overall Results - click here

ISAF (source: Olympic News Service)
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