Everything is in place for a grandstand finale at the RS:X World Championships in Takapuna, with two legends of women's windsurfing tied for the lead going into the Medal Race.
The top sailors at the RS:X Worlds in Takapuna sailed just one race today following which the overall standings determine the top ten to sail tomorrow's medal race.
In the women's fleet, Alessandra SENSINI
(ITA) closed the gap on overnight leader Barbara KENDALL
(NZL) and the old rivals go into the World Championships Medal Race on equal points. Faustine MERRET
(FRA) and Marina ALABAU
(ESP) are tied up both on 33 points, 12 points adrift of the leaders.
(NZL) goes into the men's Medal Race on 36 points, with a four-point buffer despite placing tenth in race 9. Shahar ZUBARI
of Israel retains second place overall with 40 points.
of Portugal, who was second in today's gold fleet race, improved his standing to now sit in third overall at the conclusion of racing. He is five points back from ZUBARI.
It was late afternoon before the men's and women's gold fleets got underway with an inconsistent breeze making things difficult for race organizers and competitors alike.
The silver fleets sailed first and two races took place in 6 to 8 knots of breeze which dropped away later in the afternoon. The gold fleet hit the water for the start of race nine only to come back ashore shortly after as the breeze dropped and racing was postponed.
Finally at 17:30 the women's gold fleet started race 9 of the regatta on this the penultimate day of the regatta. The men's fleet followed.
Gold Fleet Women - Race Nine
SENSINI stormed out to lead the pack and further extended on the fleet as the race progressed. SENSINI's dominance resulted in a 53-second margin across the finish line with Malgorzata BIALECKA
of Poland finishing second and Australia's Jessica CRISP
Meanwhile overnight leader KENDALL didn't get the start she would have wanted and rounded the first mark in 12th place. She climbed back through the fleet to cross in seventh place and holds onto a share of the overall lead.
Gold Fleet Men - Race Nine
France's Samuel LAUNAY
took out the men's gold fleet race late today crossing first in what was a shortened course in the dying breeze. RODRIGUES was second while Aichen WANG
of China was third.
Medal Races Tomorrow
The World titles will be decided on the waters off Takapuna tomorrow in the double-points Medal Races.
On water umpiring during the Medal Race ensures that no onshore protests can follow and results as they come to hand will be final.
As the Medal Race sailors reach Takapuna Beach a podium presentation will take place on the reserve in front of the Takapuna Boating Club. The official prizegiving will take place tomorrow evening.
Olympic Qualification Battle
Whilst the leaders tussle for the podium positions, further down the fleet there is an equally intense battle for the remaining Olympic qualification places. Twelve countries are fighting it out in the women's silver fleet for one of seven Olympic places to be decided at the RS:X Windsurfing World Championships in Takapuna.
Lying third in the silver fleet Napalai TANSAI
of Thailand is best placed going into day five of the regatta and looks set to earn a place for her country. Mexico, Hungary, Argentina, Russia, Cyprus and USA are in line to earn a place based on current standings, though three races remain and points are close.
of Armenia is just two places and six points behind Nancy RIOS
of USA and a good day on the water today could see the standings change. The silver fleet race first today.
Four of nine Olympic berths in the Men's RS:X have been decided already with Australia, Korea, Russia and Thailand making it through to gold fleet and guaranteeing their country a place.
Back in the men's silver fleet it's all on between the remaining 15 nations here hoping to qualify. Only the top placed five of those 15 at the conclusion of the regatta tomorrow will have a representative at the Olympic Games.
Going into race 9 of the 11-race regatta Indonesia, Croatia, Estonia, Slovakia and Lithuania are best placed.
of Venezuela is nine places and 35 points behind the Lithuanian sailor and will need to finish the regatta well to climb up and earn Olympic qualification.
Men's Results - Click here
Women's Results - Click here
RS:X World Championships - www.rsxclass.com/worlds2008.html