Currently world #3 in the Laser Radial ISAF World Sailing Rankings and campaigning for the spot to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, WEIR romped ahead for a convincing victory in race 4, the last of the day, to increase her lead of the Laser Radial fleet.
WEIR In Control
WEIR, who has now won three out of four races, is usually battling against fellow Melbourne sailor and 2004 Athens Olympian Sarah BLANCK (AUS) for top position, but with the latter away competing in Miami, WEIR may have this Championship sewn up, as she is currently seven points ahead of second placed Gabrielle KING (AUS) after four races.
Third placed Victoria CHAN (SIN) is a further point in arrears following third and fifth places in races 3 and 4, while her countrywoman, Man Yi LO (SIN) is fourth having scored a win in race 3. LO prefers the lighter breeze, commenting, 'yesterday was a good day.' She agreed that the light wind conditions 'are more like those in Singapore' and that coming to Melbourne to compete 'gives me experience in the heavier winds.' Finishing in ninth place at last year's Sail Melbourne, LO is hoping for a top five placing this time.
Conditions changed before the start of race 4, with the wind swinging round to a predicted northerly, filling in to 12 knots, but increasing to 15 knots as the start gun sounded.
BEYER Takes Laser Lead
Consistent sailing in all conditions is said to win championships and Brett BEYER (AUS) seems to be proving the theory correct. With third places across the four races sailed in the Laser so far, BEYER leads the series from Kristian RUTH (NOR) by five points.
Athens Olympic bronze medallists Vasilij ZBOGAR (SLO), is sitting in sixth place, but could well take the lead tomorrow when a race drop comes into play. His scorecard currently includes an OCS, which he will drop tomorrow, and with his two bullets and a second place, all he needs to do is stay in the top five in tomorrow's race 5 to draw level with BEYER, the four-time Laser Masters Champion. However BEYER made it clear in an earlier interview that he would work as hard as was necessary to win the title.
Unsurprisingly, the sensational SENSINI leads the Women's RS:X series by five points following three wins and a second place. SENSINI has proved to be one of the most outstanding boardsailors in the world, with three Olympic medals in the Mistral for her troubles and is the current RS:X World Champion.
SHREEVE Aiming For Beijing
Next best placed is Allison SHREEVE (AUS), five points behind SENSINI and six in front of Australian two-time Olympian in the Mistral, Jessica CRISP. SHREEVE is as determined as one could possibly be to achieve her dream of going to the Olympic Games, having finished third for selection in 2000 and second for 2004. 'I've been third, then second - I hope the pattern continues and I get to go to Beijing,' she said.
International competitors are dominating the top three in the Men's RS:X, and not unusually, it is a Frenchman at the top. Benjamin TILLIER (FRA) has proved impossible to beat so far, with four wins from four races to be nine points clear of his nearest rival, Tomizawa MAKOTO (JPN), with a further four points to top Hong Kong boardsailor Chi Ho HO, then comes the first Aussie, Sean O'BRIEN who is one point behind HO.
LEYDON Leads 2.4 Metres
Another sailor performing consistently well is Michael LEYDON (AUS) in the 2.4 Metre class, sitting on five points following three straight wins and a second, he has a comfortable eight point lead over nearest rival Peter RUSSELL (AUS). Two-time Paralympian Peter THOMPSON (AUS) one point away in third and Japanese sailor Masakazu SUTO fourth, a further six points away.
In a close at the top end 470 event, Tobias ETTER and Felix STEIGER (SUI) lead the Russian pairing of Dimitry BEREZKIN and Alexander ZYBIN by 2.5 points, with the Mathieu HIGGINS and Timothy LYNCH (AUS) currently third after four races, just 3.5 points away.
A number of international sailors are contesting the event, and with the 470 World Championships being hosted by Sail Melbourne on Port Phillip in 2008, this regatta is certainly giving these sailors a good feel for the conditions they may face.
The 49er and Finn series are all-Australian affairs, with the pairing of Will PHILLIPS and Jon NEWMAN (AUS) leading the 49er following six races and one drop, while the Finn is lead by Michael WILLIAMS (AUS) after four races.
The new Paralympic SKUD18 is a three boat affair, with more of these fast skiffs due in Australia soon. Blind sailor Paul BORG (AUS) leads the charge from 18 year old Victorian Ame BARNBROOK (AUS), who was born with Phocoamelia, with Denis CRITCHLEY (AUS), a paraplegic in third after four races.
Event Wide Sponsors for Sail Melbourne are State Government of Victoria, Collex, Parks Victoria. Associate Sponsors are Bayside City Council and Menere's BMW Brighton. Support Sponsors are Singapore Airlines, Ronstan International, Schenker Australia, City of Kingston, Yachting Australia, Yachting Victoria
Sail Melbourne will be included in the first running of the ISAF World Cup© series for the Olympic Classes. For more on the ISAF World Cup© CLICK HERE.
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