Lijia XU of China held onto the overall lead at the Laser Radial Worlds, with Evi VAN ACKER within striking distance of the leader with just one day to go.
(CHN), the 2006 World Champion, sits at the top of the leaderboard on 39 points going into the final day of the regatta in Takapuna tomorrow. XU is four points clear of Evi VAN ACKER
of Belgium in second with Sarah STEYAERT
(FRA) holding on to third place a further nine points behind VAN ACKER.
After regular postponements over the initial four days, conditions on the Hauraki Gulf today were conducive to an on time 10:00 start to racing on what was the penultimate day of the 2008 Women's Laser Radial World Champs. Three races were sailed today with a total of eight races now on the board, and just one day of competition remains.
Racing now in gold and silver fleets, sailors today encountered a predominantly overcast sky and a northeasterly breeze ranging between 6 and 10 knots. Sailors had challenging chop to contend with which made things interesting.
"Race 1 we had 8-10 knots, less in the second race, like 6-8 knots, and then a little more again, but it was really hard with the waves,"
said VAN ACKER after racing. "It was kind of like China, so that was good practice."
"You couldn't really see where the wind was coming from because the waves were so big. It was really difficult and everyone had mixed results, and I think that's why I'm still in second place."
Twenty year old Chinese sensation XU, who had the overnight lead, won the first race of the day in the gold fleet. Eighth around the first mark XU had to battle back to cross the line 12 seconds ahead of Charlotte DOBSON
Race 7 was XU's worst in the regatta to date apart from her DSQ in race 2; she finished 30th which effectively wiped her large leading margin putting VAN ACKER of Belgium back within striking distance of the lead.
VAN ACKER managed to further diminish XU's lead by finishing ahead of her in race 8, the last race of the day. XU was sixth while VAN ACKER was fourth narrowing the gap to four points at the conclusion of the penultimate day.
"The first race went well for me, until I got a second yellow flag, so I had to pull out of the race,"
explains VAN ACKER. "I don't like unfair sailing, and I don't think that I was doing anything wrong."
"In the last race I had a good start, I went to the right,"
she continued. "We had more current against us on the right, but I managed to get fourth to the top mark, and I finished fourth so that was good."
"So it's all down to tomorrow. I feel good. I can't afford anything, I have my discard, so I need to do two good races - and I will do,"
VAN ACKER concluded.
STEYAERT of France retains third place overall despite a mixed day on the water. She recorded a 24th, a 20th and a third today and now has a points total of 58, nine points back from VAN ACKER. Behind her, Penny CLARK
(GBR) is her closest rival who would need to close an 11-point gap to STEYAERT to make it onto the podium.
It was a disappointing day for local favourite and world #1 Jo ALEH
(NZ) who slipped from fifth overall at the start of today out of the top ten and back to 14th overall.
With just six Olympic berths still available and 23 nations here in Auckland who have not yet qualified the battle for national Olympic qualification is on.
The pecking order after today of those in the hunt for Olympic qualification is as follows… Greece, Spain, Russia, Ireland, Croatia and Czech Republic with Paraguay further down the list.
Results - click here
Laser Radial World Championship - www.takapunaworlds.org