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11 September 2008, 02:31 pm
RUF Takes The Lead In 2.4 Metre Competition
Thierry SCHMITTER of the Netherlands
Thierry SCHMITTER of the Netherlands, winner of today's race in Qingdao

2008 Beijing Paralympic Games
Qingdao, China

Just one point separate the top four with American skipper John RUF now holding the overall lead in the 2.4 Metre Paralympic fleet.
The 2.4 Metres only completed one of their three scheduled races today with very light winds making racing extremely challenging. John RUF (USA) came in seventh in the 16-boat fleet, but crucially was two places ahead of Wednesday's leader Paul TINGLEY (CAN) and therefore leapfrogs the Canadian into first place.

"You didn't know where the wind was going to come from next. It was touch and go," RUF commented. However the American's experience sailing on Pewaukee Lake in Wisconsin, where he grew up, held him in good stead and he was able to gain an important advantage over TINGLEY and grab the overall lead with two day's of racing remaining.

Racing has been close since day one in this extremely talented field, and today was no different, despite racing not starting until 15:30 hours in shifty 4-5 knot winds that dropped out towards the end of the day, turning the race into a drifter.

Jens Als ANDERSEN (DEN) led Athens bronze medallist Thierry SCHMITTER (NED), Sydney gold medallist Heiko KRÖGER (GER) and Bjørnar ERIKSTAD (NOR) at the first mark of the course, but a mark rounding later, it was ERIKSTAD who led at the next mark with Helena LUCAS (GBR), the only female sailor in the fleet, following closely.

In the dying winds, SCHMITTER came good to take the race; ERIKSTAD was next, followed by KROGER, LUCAS and China's Mingxue QI. Athens gold medallist Damien SEGUIN (FRA) dropped to fifth place overall after crossing the starting line early and getting an OCS score.

"Today was difficult," SCHMITTER admitted. "The racing was postponed for a long time which was difficult on my nerves. However, I got a good start and had to play with the wind shifts," he said.

The leader until yesterday, TINGLEY, could not do a thing right today and finished ninth to lose his overall lead to RUF.

"It was a difficult day for me. I just couldn't find my lanes and I definitely had some speed issues," TINGLEY said, adding: "But of course I can still win from here. You simply have to focus on the basics and execute them properly." For new leader RUF, a seventh in race six has given him a one point advantage over the next three places, TINGLEY, SCHMITTER and KROGER, who all have 18 points.

"The breeze totally collapsed at the end. Thierry was better at no wind. In such circumstances, you have to be patient and sail gently. Being in the lead tells me my training has paid off," RUF said.

Three races have been scheduled for the 2.4 Metre fleet tomorrow, with the first start at 12:00 local time.

Results - click here
ISAF Paralympic Games microsite - www.sailing.org/paralympics

Paralympic News Service (As Amended by ISAF)
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