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25 April 2008, 09:44 am
Medal Race Line Ups Decided On Light Day In Hyères
Light winds in Hyères on Thursday
The Medal Race line up were decided in light and shifty conditions

Semaine Olympique Française 2008
Hyères, France

Light and shifty winds made for a tricky penultimate day in Hyères, as the final series races decided the line ups for Friday's Medal Races at the ISAF Grade 1 SOF.
Another difficult day ended in Hyères at the Semaine Olympique Française. A light sea breeze appeared late in the day allowing minimum racing for all classes before the Medal Race. The conditions suited sailors who have tailored their preparations for light winds.

With a reduced programme, most of the leaders maintained their position but no one is safe before the decisive, double-points and non-discardable Medal Race on Friday. The top three remains unchanged in the 470 women. The Japanese crew Ai KONDO and Naoko KAMATA will start the Medal Race with a 12-point lead over world #1 crew Giulia CONTI and Giovanna MICOL (ITA). Twenty point separate third place Germans Stefanie ROTHWEILER and Vivien KUSSATZ and fourth placed Therese TORGERSSON and Vendela SANTEN (SWE), meaning that the battle for medals will be strictly between the current top three.!

Tim WADLOW and Christopher RAST (USA) still leading the 49er class after two races sailed on Thursday. The recently crowned 2008 European Champions Iker MARTINEZ and Xabier FERNANDEZ (ESP) mastered the light and tricky conditions. A first and a second place bring the Spanish duo to second overall, just in front of Federico ALONSO and Arturo ALONSO (ESP). Third place on the podium is open to the top ten.

Dutch sailors are clinging to the first place overall in the 470 men and RS:X men despite high scores collected today. Sven COSTER and Kalle COSTER (NED) did not repeat Wednesday performance and consequently their lead over Nick ROGERS and Joe GLANFIELD (GBR) has reduced to four points and any of the top seven could conceivably win today.

Casper BOUMAN's (NED) 41st place in the final race on Thursday was uncharacteristic given his excellent form in both windy and light air races. Tight scores across the top eight in the RS:X men fleet will make for an interesting Medal Race. Despite the 41st place finish, BOUMAN increased his lead over training partner and rival for Olympic selections, Dorian VAN RIJSSELBERGE in eighth position.

Three races and a second discard in the Yngling class change the overall standings. Double World Champion and Athens gold medallist in the Europe class Siren SUNDBY and crew Lise Birgitte FREDRIKSEN and Alexandra KOEFOED (NOR) have taken the lead. The Russian team of Ekaterina SKUDINA, Diana KRUTSKIKH and Natalia IVANOVA showed their potential in the light and tricky conditions. They climbed to second overall and increase their lead on their Russian rivals for Olympic selection.

2008 World Champions Darren BUNDOCK and Glenn ASHBY (AUS) maintained their lead in the Tornado. Thursday's race winners, Canadians Oskar JOHANSSON and Kevin STITTLE narrowly miss the cut for the Medal Race, one point from tenth placed François MORVAN and Matthieu VANDAME (FRA).

Sarah BLANCK (AUS) kept her strong lead in the Laser Radial class and has already secured one of the top two places overall in the championship. Likewise, Zofia KLEPACKA (POL) conserved her the lead in the RS:X women fleet, despite a 19th place in the seventh race. Athens silver medallist Jian YIN (CHN) will miss the Medal Race in 12th position overall.

Ten countries will be represented in the Finn Medal Race, mostly by sailors who will be on the starting line in Qingdao. World Champion Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN (DEN) held on to the overall lead with a victory in the day's only race.

Michael LEIGH (CAN) has jumped two points in front of Andrew MURDOCH (NZL) in the Laser fleet where any of the top ten can aim to a place on the podium. A black flag in race 8 ruled out any hope of World Champion and world #1 Tom SLINGSBY (AUS) making the Medal Race, although world #2 Paul GOODISON (GBR) did finish strongly with a second in the final race lifting him into the Medal Race position in ninth overall.

For the Paralympic aspirants, an extra fleet race will be sailed on Friday on the 2.4 Metre and Sonar classes. However, the British Sonar trio of John ROBERTSON, Hannah STODEL and Stephen THOMAS have already claimed the gold medal, clinching eight race wins out of nine races so far, to notch up a seven-point lead with one race still to go on Friday.

Helmsman ROBERTSON, although pleased with the team's performance, remains focussed on the main prize.

"It's a good result and really pleasing that we've been sailing well, but this week's really been about the getting new boat all ready," he said. "It's not about this event - that's just a stepping stone along the way to making sure we're in the best shape we can be for Beijing."

The forecast for Friday's Medal Races is for light wind shifting all day around the bay!
Men's RS:X
Women's RS:X
Laser Radial
Men's 470
Women's 470
2.4 Metre

Semaine Olympique Française -

Corinne Rolland-McKenzie
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