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18 December 2008, 10:37 am
Olympic Medallists Star As Conditions Fire Up At Sail Melbourne
Paul CAMPBELL-JAMES and Mark ASQUITH in the 49er
Paul CAMPBELL-JAMES and Mark ASQUITH extended their lead in the 49er fleet

Sail Melbourne 2008
Melbourne, Australia

The star names lead the way on the third day of racing at Sail Melbourne as bigger breeze arrived midway through the first event of the ISAF Sailing World Cup.
Conditions on Port Phillip Bay were far more conducive to Olympic sailing and it was a couple of Beijing Olympians who led the 470 fleet during day three of action at Sail Melbourne.

In stronger 10-15 knot winds on Melbourne's Port Phillip Bay, Olympic gold medallist Malcolm PAGE and skipper Mat BELCHER continue to dominate proceedings adding another couple of regatta victories to their credit. The Australian pair look well on the way to establishing an early lead in the ISAF Sailing World Cup standings.

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In what they classed as the best racing so far this week, BELCHER and PAGE managed to hold out US Olympic representatives Stuart MCNAY and Graham BIEHL, who claim they are just starting to put things together.

"We did have a couple of soggy sail incidents out there today but overall we had much better boat speed today … we can go faster, but overall it was pretty good racing today," PAGE said with a grin.

BELCHER and PAGE are sitting on top of the leaderboard on seven points, three clear of the Americans who experienced some boat trouble in the race three, and 11 points clear of two young Australian crews - Sam KIVELL and Max TAYLOR and Shane HUGHES and Felix PATERSON.

"Our trap wires kept coming untied and we lost a lot of distance fixing those in the first race today," BIEHL said.

"We're just trying to get in as many good finishes as we can - for the first day or two we were a little bit out of it but after that it seems like it's just clicked again," he added.

However it was a nightmare day on the water for Sandringham Yacht Club youngsters KIVELL and TAYLOR.

Instead of cementing their place in the top three, the pair has managed to lose a bit of ground on the leaders after an unfortunate run of events.

"We had a horrible day out on the water … in our first race Max's trapeze broke off on the first beat, he fell in the water and lost a bootie and a fingernail but we managed to claw our way back into fifth place," a disappointed KIVELL said.

"But we topped it off with an altercation with another boat in the second race and got disqualified … what probably should have been two top three finishes for us, ended up pretty ordinary," added KIVELL.

In the battle of the Women's 470 crews, youngsters Stacey OMAY and Chelsea HALL (AUS) remain well in control with a big points advantage over their nearest rivals, Amy KIVELL and Alexandra WARD (AUS).

TUNNICLIFFE On Top

The top of the Laser Radial leaderboard also has a golden glow to it, with Beijing Olympic gold medallist Anna TUNNICLIFFE (USA) already 14 points ahead in the overall standings. TUNNICLIFFE revelled in the stronger conditions today, winning all three races to take a commanding lead into the second half of the regatta. Two-time Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Champion Gabrielle KING (AUS) also put in a strong performance, with two seconds and a fifth helping her jump from fifth to second place overall, four points ahead of Croatian sailor Tina MIHELIC and Britain's Andrea BREWSTER.

Michael BULLOT (NZL) continued his strong start in the Laser fleet, following a win in the day's opening race with third and eighth place finishes. He maintains his position at the top of the leaderboard, although Chile's Matias DEL SOLAR is now just one point behind after impressive 4,1,4 scores in today's races. Milan VUJASINOVI? of Croatia lies third, whilst world #4 skipper Michael LEIGH (CAN) began his fight back after a disappointing first day and moves from seventh to fourth overall on the back of 8,4,5 scores today.

In the other One Person Dinghy fleet, for the Heavyweight Finn class, Warwick HILL (AUS) continues to lead, although James PATERSON (AUS) is just three points behind.

LE GALS Stars

Frenchman Nicolas LE GAL was the star performer in the windsurfer fleets today, scoring 1,2,1 results to jump straight to the top of the Men's RS:X leaderboard. As a member of the extremely competitive French windsurfing squad, LE GAL, whose career-best performance was a second place at last year's RS:X Europeans, missed out on a place at Beijing 2008 to eventual silver medallist Julien BONTEMPS. However, the 26 year old is clearly making a statement of his intent in Melbourne and looks to be well on the way to the top of the ISAF Sailing World Cup Standings.

In the Women's fleet, Spain's Blanca MANCHON recovered well from the DNF she scored in yesterday's opening race with two second places and a first today. The young Spaniard, who represented her country at the Athens Olympic Games aged just 17 and the following year won gold at the 2005 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship, now sits at the top of the leaderboard. Australia's three-time Olympian Jessica CRISP drops to second, with Kate ELLINGHAM of New Zealand in third.

British 49er Crew Impress

GBR 49er pairing Paul CAMPBELL-JAMES and Mark ASQUITH are enjoying an impressive hot streak down under.

CAMPBELL-JAMES and ASQUITH, straight off their win at the Sydney International Regatta last week, where they didn't finish any worse than second, are backing it up with another impressive performance at Sail Melbourne.

After the completion of nine races, the pair has opened up a commanding nine point lead, maintaining their form and yet to finish worse than second.

"We came down here to specifically get some time in the water," ASQUITH said.

CAMPBELL-JAMES and ASQUITH have dedicated the next four years to fulfilling a lifetime ambition of representing their country at a home Olympic Games.

They are determined to remain fully focused on that one goal and are determined to get the jump on their counterparts who have failed to enter the first round of the World Cup series.

"We are trying to keep a consistent series of finishes going while we are down here - before SIR's last week, we spent of couple of weeks at Sorrento training in preparation," CAMPBELL-JAMES said.

"We are excited about the World Cup series because it will keep us fully focused on our goal from one regatta to the next," he added.

Trailing nine points behind the Brits, is Aussie pair Will and Sam PHILLIPS, with Kiwi's David MCDIARMID and Andrew ARCHIBALD a further four points back.

Click here for all the news on Sail Melbourne 2008.

ISAF Sailing World Cup

The ISAF Sailing World Cup 2008-2009 consists of the following events:

16-21 Dec 2008 - Sail Melbourne The Asia Pacific Regatta, Melbourne, Australia
25-31 Jan 2009 - Rolex Miami OCR, Miami, USA
4-10 April 2009 - Trofeo SAR Princess Sofia MAPFRE, Palma, Spain
18-24 April 2009 - Semaine Olympique Francaise, Hyeres, France
27-31 May 2009 - Delta Lloyd Regatta, Medemblik, Netherlands
20-28 June 2009 - Kieler Woche, Kiel, Germany
14-19 Sept 2009 - Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta, Weymouth, Great Britain

Find out more about the ISAF Sailing World Cup, including more on the seven events, the scoring system and the Notice of Series at www.sailing.org/isafsailingworldcup.

ISAF (source: Jodi Kelly)
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