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14 September 2005, 09:13 am
CIAN Takes Early Lead
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ISAF Match Racing World Championship 2005
Calpe, Spain

Paolo CIAN (ITA) got his campaign at the ISAF Match Racing World Championship in Calpe, Spain off to a perfect start sweeping to three victories yesterday. Amongst his victims were number one in the ISAF World Match Race Rankings Peter GILMOUR (AUS), who also suffered another defeat to Björn HANSEN (SWE). Reigning World Champion Ed BAIRD (USA) made an indifferent start as well, with one win and one loss before his final match of the day against the undefeated James SPITHILL (AUS) was postponed.
After the first day of racing in Calpe things are very evenly matched with only Santiago LOPEZ-VAZQUEZ (ESP) still to record a victory. CIAN and SPITHILL are the only sailors still undefeated in what is already proving to be a very tightly contested Championship.

Racing began in Calpe with wind speed of 22 knots greeting the twelve competitors gathered to contest this year's ISAF Match Racing World Championship. In the opening match, last year's third place man Philippe PRESTI (FRA) defeated LOPEZ-VAZQUEZ after winning the start and displaying better boat speed through the race.

Number one in the ISAF World Match Race Rankings and three time World Champion in the 1990s GILMOUR fell against CIAN, whilst in a tight third match the on form Ian WILLIAMS (GBR), winner of two recent ISAF Grade 1 events, overcame Björn HANSEN (SWE).

By the second flight the wind had died down to 18 knots and GILMOUR recovered from his opening defeat by beating LOPEZ-VAZQUEZ. CIAN overcame WILLIAMS, whilst HANSEN registered his first win with a victory over PRESTI.

The third flight saw CIAN maintain his 100% record, this time overcoming home sailor LOPEZ-VAZQUEZ. PRESTI beat WILLIAMS whilst GILMOUR went down to a surprising second defeat to HANSEN.

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Santiago LOPEZ-VAZQUEZ
had a tough first day in Calpe
© Nico Martinez
The Tom 28s then received six new crews with defending back to back champion BAIRD opening up with a victory over Staffan LINDBERG (FIN). SPITHILL carried on the good form that saw him take victory on Sunday at the ISAF Grade 2 The Heat in Italy to defeat Sébastian COL (FRA), whilst World number four Mathieu RICHARD (FRA) overcame Eugeniy NEUGODNIKOV (RUS).

SPITHILL secured his second victory in the next flight against LINDBERG, whilst RICHARD won the first of the all French battles against COL. The third match of the flight produced the surprise of the day when NEUGODNIKOV, who has never won an ISAF Grade 1 event, defeated BAIRD, who has already won two this year and holds three World titles.

In the final flight of the day, LINDBERG and COL both scored their first wins with victories over RICHARD and NEUGODNIKOV respectively. The match between SPITHILL and BAIRD was postponed due to a suspected twisted keel on the Australian's boat.

At the end of the day's racing, top of the leaderboard CIAN, who has never finished higher than ninth at the ISAF Worlds, was keeping a cool head, 'We sailed just three matches and won the three, but we are just at the beginning,' he commented. 'The three matches have been really hard, there won't be any easy match here. We didn't expect such a good beginning, but we had a good feeling with the boat.'

The round robin continues today with the first races beginning at 1100 hours local time. On Thursday the top eight skippers will move forward to a quater final round robin before the best of five semi finals on Friday. The 2005 World Champion will then be decided on Saturday in a best of five final.

ISAF Match Racing World Championship Results

Round Robin

Flight 1

Philippe PRESTI d. Santiago LOPEZ-VAZQUEZ
Paolo CIAN d. Peter GILMOUR
Ian WILLIAMS d. Björn HANSEN

Flight 2

Peter GILMOUR d. Santiago LOPEZ-VAZQUEZ
Paolo CIAN d. Ian WILLIAMS
Björn HANSEN d. Philippe PRESTI

Flight 3

Paolo CIAN d. Santiago LOPEZ-VAZQUEZ
Philippe PRESTI d. Ian WILLIAMS
Björn HANSEN d. Peter GILMOUR

Flight 4

Ed BAIRD d. Staffan LINDBERG
James SPITHILL d. Sébastian COL
Mathieu RICHARD d. Eugeniy NEUGODNIKOV

Flight 5

James SPITHILL d. Staffan LINDBERG
Mathieu RICHARD d. Sébastian COL
Eugeniy NEUGODNIKOV d. Ed BAIRD

Flight 6

Staffan LINDBERG d. Mathieu RICHARD
Sébastian COL d. Eugeniy NEUGODNIKOV
James SPITHILL vs. Ed BAIRD - postponed

ISAF Match Racing World Championship Standings

1. Paolo CIAN (ITA), 3-0
2. Philippe PRESTI (FRA), 2-1
2. Björn HANSEN (SWE), 2-1
2. Mathieu RICHARD (FRA), 2-1
2. James SPITHILL (AUS), 2-0
6. Peter GILMOUR (AUS), 1-2
6. Ian WILLIAMS (GBR), 1-2
6. Staffan LINDBERG (FIN), 1-2
6. Sébastian COL (FRA), 1-2
6. Eugeniy NEUGODNIKOV (RUS), 1-2
6. Ed BAIRD (USA), 1-1
12. Santiago LOPEZ-VAZQUEZ (ESP), 0-3

Miriam Torres. Image, Paolo CIAN got off to a perfect start in Calpe yesterday:© Nico Martinez
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