The action intensified at Sail Melbourne today, with the Medal Race line ups decided in light and testing conditions.
and Glenn ASHBY
(AUS) have an unassailable lead in the Tornado multihull in the Asia Pacific Regatta at Sail Melbourne with only the Medal Race remaining.
The two have won six of the ten races sailed, including a further win today in race 9. They cannot be beaten on points, having a 20-point lead over nearest rivals and Olympic hopefuls Andrey KIRILYUK
and Valery USHKOV
(RUS) and a further seven points in front of Leigh MCMILLAN
and Will HOWDEN
(GBR), already selected to Beijing.
A further two points adrift are Spaniards Fernando ECHAVARRI
and Anton PAZ
, the current World Champions, who have been off the pace here in Melbourne.
Brothers Tino MITTELMEIER
and Niko MITTELMEIER
(GER) breathed a sigh of release after winning race 10 this afternoon. "This is one of our selection regattas. Today was perfect for us, because it was light and we are a light crew. Yesterday was too much breeze for us,"
The two are currently sixth placed; one place and two points behind fellow Olympic rivals Johannes POLGAR
and Florian SPALTEHOLZ
Olympic medallist Mitch BOOTH
(NED), now seventh placed, described today's conditions as: "Wafty, very soft. It started of at around 5 knots and built to 7 to 8 knots, but the good guys were still up there. It was similar winds to what we expect in Qingdao [the Olympic sailing venue in China]."
BOOTH said of racing today: "Pim [his crew Pim NIEUWENHUIS] and I were further back and full back!"
Although the New Zealand crew of Paul FRANCIS
and Aaron DUNCAN
are down in second last place overall, DUNCAN remains undaunted. "We're not doing that well, but we did better than yesterday,"
"Racing here has been very good; it's a very high level of competition here. This series has been part of our pre-Worlds campaign. We are yet to qualify as a nation and there are only five places left. If we qualify, we have to sail off against three other New Zealand crews for selection.
"This has been a very valuable regatta for us. We've learned lots and know we have a long way to go,"
Today's second race was an interesting one with series leaders Erin MAXWELL
and Isabelle KINSOLVING
(USA) match racing second-place Ai KONDO
and Naoko KAMATA
(JPN) off the course.
The tactical decision was made to widen the gap between first and second as the USA's drop before today was a tenth and Japan's a 23rd, which would move the Japanese girls into the lead.
"Going into the last race we were only one point ahead of them so something needed to be done,"
"It was a challenging day. We knew we were really close to the Japanese overall in the scores so we spent most of our day concentrated on them."
Going into tomorrow's Medal Race the Americans are leading ahead of the Japanese and Giulia CONTI
and Giovanna MICOL
(ITA) are in third.
The Aussie girls, Elise RECHICHI
and Tessa PARKINSON
are currently 24th overall, but are not concerned with their result. RECHICHI is recovering from a slipped lower disc and does not want to exacerbate the injury.
"It's not all too bad,"
said crew PARKINSON. "She did it lifting the boat onto a trolley and was in an awkward position.
"We've had a lot of setbacks in the last two years. In the Worlds In Cascais last year she dislocated her knee and we broke a mast. Prior to that, she got an infection at the Test Event in 2006 and we couldn't sail for a while.
"Elise is almost back to normal, but we're just taking things a bit carefully here with our Worlds coming up. The Worlds are our aim and then the Games in China,"
Following the disappointment of missing out on Olympic selection, a broken leg and six months off, men's 470 combination Mathew BELCHER
and Nick BEHRENS
(AUS) are back in business at the Asia Pacific Regatta at Sandringham Yacht Club.
BEHRENS broke his leg at the Worlds last year after the pair finished fifth and after four years of fulltime sailing, they both decided to get back to studying and working for a while.
In preparation for this regatta, and the ISAF Grade W 470 World Championship next week at Mordialloc Sailing Club, the affable pair managed to squeeze in just four days sailing in September.
However, their down time hasn't appeared to affect them too much, with two second places today, elevating them into third place overall and well in the hunt for a top three spot in tomorrow's Medal race.
"We are treating this event as an opportunity to get our skills back to a level where they used to be, before we compete in the Worlds next week,"
and Joe GLANFIELD
(GBR) lead the regatta going into tomorrow's final day, eight points clear on 47 points, ahead of Sime FANTELA
and Igor MARENIC
The Brits took our three of the top four positions in race 10 today and will now boast three crews ROGERS and GLANFIELD, Nic ASHER
and Elliot WILLIS
and Luke PATIENCE
and Chris GRUBE
, in the top-ten shootout for medals tomorrow.
The Medal Race is worth double points and wind permitting will start at 13:30.
Despite a three month layoff due to a broken wrist, and with just five days sailing before the Asia Pacific Regatta, Laser sailor Paul GOODISON
(GBR) is definitely one of the men to beat in Beijing.
GOODISON, who won the Olympic Test Event in Qingdao, China last year, today confirmed he is a light air specialist at the Asia Pacific Regatta at Sail Melbourne. The Brit posted a win in race 9, but did not get a second chance when organizers abandoned race 10, due to lack of wind.
He is second placed overall, now on equal points with World Champion Tom SLINGSBY
(AUS), who struggled with a tenth place finish today. Andrew MURDOCH
(NZL) crossed the line in fifth place to reinstate his top three position after a disastrous day yesterday.
With the top two sharing equal points, but SLINGSBY leading on countback and only three points separating first and third, tomorrow's Medal Race is sure to be a pot-boiler. With the Medal Race worth double points; those three will also have fourth placed Adonis BOUGIOURIS
(GRE) to contend with. On 30 points going into tomorrow's final race, anything could happen.
Due to light shifty airs, only one race was sailed today in the women's Laser Radial fleet; race 10 abandoned and the top eight places remain unchanged from yesterday.
Leader and Australian Olympic Team member for Beijing Sarah BLANCK
widened the gap to nine points over second placed Sari MULTALA
MULTALA has dropped today's race after scoring her worst result, 14th, whilst BLANCK has been relentless, today finishing second.
Going into tomorrow's Medal Race, in which the top ten women will race off for gold, silver and bronze, Melburnian BLANCK was quietly confident about the light breezes predicted. "But you just never know with a Medal Race really,"
Third place is held by Mexican world #1 Tania ELIAS CALLES
followed by China's top sailor, Lijia XU
Double Olympic gold medallist Ben AINSLIE
(GBR) has kicked it up a notch heading into tomorrow's ten-man Finn Medal Race at the Asia Pacific Regatta at Black Rock Yacht Club.
Like cream, AINSLIE rose to the top today, finishing with a 2,1 result, to head the top of the table on 33 points, eight points clear of his nearest rival, fellow countryman Ed WRIGHT
A further three points back is World Champion Rafa TRUJILLO
(ESP) who, despite a 15th in race 9, clawed his way back to a second in race 10.
WRIGHT could manage just a 14th and sixth place result, heading into the 11th and final race of the regatta worth double points.
Canadian Christopher COOK
continued his inconsistent racing with a win in race 9, but is well out of the medal running in 34th position.
Today the SKUD18s sailed in extremely light conditions, not suited to their large amount of heavy ballast, used to prevent the Paralympic class skiffs from capsizing.
The SKUDs only finished one of two scheduled races on a shortened course; race 10 was abandoned due to light, wafty hot airs.
At the final leeward mark Duncan MACGREGOR and Peter MACGREGOR (AUS) were leading and went right around the mark. Unfortunately, the shift went left and helped Tan JOVIN and Desiree LIM (SIN) and Morgan and David STALEY (AUS), on that side of the course, overtake them to win and place second respectively. It was JOVIN and LIM's first win and they were thrilled.
"There wasn't really any wind so it was fluky,"
said Duncan, who finished the race third.
Morgan STALEY added his bit: "We were lucky to get the shift on the final run, but it was all over the place out there today."
MACGREGOR and MACGREGOR are coming second overall going into the final day of racing behind STALEY and STALEY with Singapore in third.
Australia's nominated Paralympic representative for Beijing, Aaron HILL, is sitting in third place overall after the class only got in only one of two races on the penultimate day of racing, due to fluky light airs on Port Phillip at the Sail Melbourne Asia Pacific Regatta.
"We're a few points behind first and second. It will be hard to get to the top of the leaderboard with only tomorrow to race,"
23 year old HILL said.
HILL's preparations for Beijing will be in full swing after this regatta, "We have a new boat coming, so we are trying to experiment with this boat to get ready for the new one.
"The new boat will come out of Scandinavia and be sent straight to China, We won't see it until we get to the sailing venue at Qingdao, which doesn't leave us much time to adapt to it,"
First and second places are still occupied by Paralympian Peter THOMPSON (AUS) and Peter RUSSELL (AUS) respectively.
Men's Laser Radial
With Greg ADAMS (AUS) unbeatable for the gold medal in tomorrow's Medal Race, the race for the silver and bronze in the men's Laser Radial fleet will be a ripper at the Asia Pacific Regatta.
ADAMS is in a commanding position on 13 points, while Richard BOTT (AUS) and John JAGGER (AUS) are locked on 27 points a piece. Both will have to watch out for youth-division sailor Klade HAUSCHILDT (AUS) who remains in contention for a medal in fourth place on 31 points.
HAUSCHILDT could be the dark horse of the field after scoring the best placed result of the top four today. HAUSCHILDT finished third, while ADAMS was sixth, BOTT seventh and JAGGER fourth respectively.
Wind permitting the men's Laser Radial Medal Race will start at approximately 12:35.
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