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16 January 2008, 09:38 am
Aussies On Top At Sail Melbourne
Tom SLINGSBY
Tom SLINGSBY hikes for his life in the big breezes

Sail Melbourne 2008
Melbourne, Australia

It was a great day for the home crews at Sail Melbourne, with Australian sailors ending day three of racing leading in four of the six Olympic Class events.
It was another breezy day in Melbourne, and the home Australian sailors seem to be relishing the windy conditions, holding the overall lead in the Laser, Laser Radial, Tornado and Men's 470 fleets. However, it the Women's 470 fleet it is the Japanese crews who are dominating the top spots after today's racing, holding onto second and third place overall behind leaders for the third day running, Erin MAXWELL and Isabelle KINSOLVING (USA).

Conditions were rough due to large swells with sea breezes between 16-18 knots in the earlier race, increasing to 18-25 knots for race 6 in the afternoon.

Fourth ranked in the world, Ai KONDO and Naoko KAMATA of Kanagawa, Japan, are in second place. KONDO said they like the conditions very much and were looking forward to catching the Americans.

In third place is another Japanese pairing, Yuka YOSHISAKO and Noriko OKUMA of Okayama (world #9 crew) who won this event in 2006. "[We had] good boat speed downwind. [There were] lots of big waves," YOSHISAKO said. OKUMA said they would have won both races had their starts been better.

Both boats are working hard this week as the Japanese Olympic team will be decided after next week's World Championships to be held as part of Sail Melbourne at Mordialloc Sailing Club. Both teams said they were feeling confident.

The highest placed Australians Elise RECHICHI and Tessa PARKINSON (chosen to represent at Beijing) dropped a place overall to 28th after not competing in race 6.

Men's 470

First and second places in the Men's 470 fleet have been held onto by Nathan WILMOT and Malcolm PAGE (AUS) and Gideon KLIGER and Udi GAL (ISR) respectively, despite both boats not competing in race 6 this afternoon.

PAGE said after an altercation with a Chinese boat in the first race (race 5), they decided to take the afternoon off to avoid breakages as the wind increased to 18 to 23 knots, bringing a large swell.

"We didn't want to take any risks with the Worlds around the corner," PAGE said this afternoon.

Athens silver medallists (fourth placed at Sydney 2000), Nick ROGERS and Joe GLANFIELD (GBR) were disappointed they didn't sail as well as they would have liked, despite two second places.

"Unfortunately we were coming first at the last windward mark in both races, but didn't maintain," GLANFIELD said. ROGERS accredited their falling back to being on the less windy side of the course in the first race and missing the shift that the Spaniards picked up to win in the second.

Great Britain finished the day in fourth place overall behind Sime FANTELA and Igor MARENIC (CRO) (world #13). The fleet, like the rest of the Olympic classes here at the Asia Pacific Regatta, starts its Final Series tomorrow.

Finn

Sailing legend and Great Britain's Beijing representative Ben AINSLIE has jumped into first place overall after a stellar performance with two bullets in races 5 and 6 today.

Fellow countryman Ed WRIGHT (GBR) had a disappointing day on the water with third and tenth places. After leading the regatta for the first two days, he has dropped to second on equal points with AINSLIE.

Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN (DEN) after finishing a solid second in race 5, slipped to third place overall after a ninth place in race 6.

Giles SCOTT (GBR) jumped 15 places up the board into seventh place after dropping an incomplete race, while Ed GREIG (GBR) in tenth after day three, reiterated Great Britain's dominance in the Finn class with four of the top ten places sailing under the Union Jack.

Anthony NOSSITER (AUS) has slipped from tenth to 16th after another lacklustre day with a 14th and 27th places.

Laser

The ability to drop one bad result after the completion of six races has catapulted reigning Laser World Champion Tom SLINGSBY (AUS) from 32nd to first place overall in qualifying at the Asia Pacific Regatta today.

Sailing out of the Royal Brighton Yacht Club in 15-23 knot gusty winds, SLINGSBY was able to drop his race 2 OCS (42 points) to take a one-point lead at the end of day three action.

As a result of winning four of the six races sailed so far, SLINGSBY has now narrowly edged out Andrew MURDOCH (NZL), who can count three races to date, sailing in an adjoining fleet.

SLINGSBY and MURDOCH have now skipped eight and nine points clear of joint third position holders Milan VUJASINOVIC (CRO) and Maciej GRABOWSKI (POL).

The Lasers will be divided into gold, silver and bronze fleets for the final series starting tomorrow. The gold fleet will be put through their paces on Olympic trapezoid courses whilst the remainder will sail shorter windward and leeward courses. The regatta will finish on Saturday afternoon.

Laser Radial

Sarah BLANCK (AUS) has cast aside her frustrations of yesterday to regain the lead in the Laser Radial women's class at the Asia Pacific Regatta today.

At the completion of racing today, BLANCK and the rest of the fleet was able to drop their worst result; BLANCK's being a 16th from day two, which elevated her above her three rivals and into the top position heading into the final series which starts tomorrow.

Apart from her 16th placing, BLANCK, who is sailing out of her home club, Royal Brighton Yacht Club, has finished no worse than second for the week.

Sari MULTALA (FIN) remains the danger, consolidating her second position with a fifth and second placing today to be six points ahead of Lijia XU (CHI).

XU, looking ahead to the Games in her country, had a great day on the water with a second and third finish behind BLANCK, who won both races today; giving her confidence ahead of the Laser Radial Worlds to be held in Takapuna, New Zealand starting next month.

Tania ELIAS CALLES (MEX) dropped off the pace today with a fourth and seventh placing but remains in outright fourth place. The Radials move into the final series tomorrow, the top ten from the gold fleet to sail off for the medals on the final day, Saturday.

Tornado

Following a late finish last evening, the Tornados were the first cab of the rank at Sail Melbourne's Asia Pacific Regatta today, starting just after midday.

It was a length of the straight victory for Australians Darren BUNDOCK and Glenn ASHBY which has consolidated them in top position following day three action.

Sailing in choppy conditions on Port Phillip, with 15-18 knot south-westerly winds, BUNDOCK and ASHBY crossed the line in the later race 6 a good 300 metres clear of the fleet.

"We're meant to win one race a day … well, that's how it seems so far anyway," BUNDOCK, the world #1 ranked skipper said.

"Conditions were pretty tricky. It was all about getting the shifts right, which luckily we did," he added.

"Half the fleet tacked straight out of the start because it was a big header; then halfway across, we tacked back and found ourselves out in front."

Mitch BOOTH and Pim NIEUWENHUIS (NED) are sailing themselves into some good form with a 1,3 finish today to be placed third overall. They are ten points behind the Aussies and four points behind the well-sailed second placed Andrey KIRILYUK and Valery USHKOV (RUS).

Crews have now dropped their worst result from the series so far, with the Dutch skipper BOOTH ruing his ordinary day two results, admitting he preferred today's conditions much better.

"That's our conditions, we really love this stuff, mainly because we are heavier than most of the teams. Whenever it's blowing more than 12 knots, it's good for us," he said.

"Yesterday we had some problems, but there are four more races before we get into the Finals, so it's turning into a good battle up front," he added.

Reigning world titleholders Fernando ECHAVARRI and Anton PAZ (ESP) didn't sail badly today, with a fifth and eighth placing respectively. However, they have slipped 16 points behind the leaders and are fifth placed overall.

With ISAF World Sailing Ranking points and Olympic selection up for grabs at this ISAF Grade 1 event, this is a crucial series for some, but for others, already selected for Beijing, this regatta is a good warm up exercise for the upcoming Tornado Worlds at Takapuna, New Zealand in March.

Men's Laser Radial

Greg ADAMS (AUS) continued to dominate the Asia Pacific Regatta Men's Laser Radial class today with another two wins on day three of racing.

That brings ADAMS' total to five victories out of a possible six starts and shot him ten points clear of his nearest rivals Richard BOTT (AUS) and John JAGGER (AUS).

The Australians continue to dominate the class with youth sailor Klade HAUSCHILDT (AUS) in fourth position on 23 points. Tomorrow the fleet goes into the final series.

SKUD18

Morgan and David STALEY (AUS) have now won four of the six races completed in the new SKUD18 class which will make its Paralympic debut at the 2008 Paralympic Games.

Following their latest two wins today, the STALEYs have been elevated to top position on the table of the Asia Pacific Regatta, four points clear of the second son and father combination in the fleet Duncan and Peter MACGREGOR (AUS) on 11 points.

Duncan, a quietly spoken 17 year old with muscular dystrophy, is still finding his feet in the SKUD, but loving every minute of skippering the skiff with his Dad as crew.

"We finished race 5 by a spinnaker pole," said winning 16 year old skipper Morgan. We won the next race a bit more comfortably. It was hell in the heavy breeze. We healed quite a bit because we're not heavy enough. It was hard steering upwind, because the boat was going head-on into waves - it was wet out there today," he said.

And despite contesting just one of their two scheduled races today, Amy BARNBROOK and Leigh DUNSTAN (AUS) remain in outright third place overall. Tan JOVIN and Desiree LIM (SIN) remain in fourth position on 15 points.

2.4 Metre

Peter THOMPSON (AUS) and Peter RUSSELL (AUS) are developing a healthy 'two Peter' contest at the top of the table in the 2.4 Metre class of the Asia Pacific Regatta at Sandringham Yacht Club.

THOMPSON, after two wins in day three action in races 5 and 6 today, is now just two points clear of Russell on eight points, with Aaron HILL (AUS) a further five points in arrears.

The top four positions in both races were exactly the same today with THOMPSON first, RUSSELL second, HILL third and Michael LEMON (AUS) was fourth across the line.

Sail Melbourne - www.sailmelbourne.com.au
Results - click here

Di Pearson (As Amended By ISAF)
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