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8 February 2008, 10:00 am
Argentina Top After Opening Races At Laser Worlds
Tom SLINGSBY racing
Defending World Champion Tom SLINGSBY got his campaign off to a solid start

Laser World Championship 2008
Terrigal, New South Wales, Australia

Julio ALSOGARAY got off to a perfect double-bullet start on the first day of racing at the Laser World Championship in Terrigal, Australia.
After much anticipation, race 1 of the Laser Worlds got underway at 13:45 local time in three groups on trapezoid courses. Racing began in light rain, but shortly after 15:00 the sun came out.

Following the two races, Julio ALSOGARAY from Argentina is the leader of the championship, after scoring two bullets in the yellow group, his results speaking for themselves.

Athens Olympian and World Ranked #3 Matias DEL SOLAR (CHI) is second overall. The 32 year old said earlier in the week he did not want to miss a medal in Beijing and had been training hard under his coach, brother Juan-Pablo.

Vasilij ZBOGAR (SLO), the Athens Games bronze medallist, is third overall, followed by Javier HERNANDEZ (ESP), Brad FUNK (USA), Tom SLINGSBY (AUS), Abe TORCHINSKY (CAN), Pavlos KONTIDES (CYP), Alex SCHLONSKI (GER) and Bruno FONTES (BRA).

It was a great day and early birthday gift for young Cypriot sailor KONTIDES, gold medallist in the Laser at the 2007 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship, who scored a third and fourth in the Yellow group. "I am very happy.

"I knew I had improved my sailing a lot - but I had to wait till I got here [the Worlds] to find out how much. I am so happy,"
said the 17 year old, who turns 18 on Monday. KONTIDES has already qualified for the Games. His hope for this championship is a top place to help him realize his dream of an Olympic medal.

Irish sailor James ESPEY said at times the conditions were "Pretty horrible. It was very light for most the time, 5-10 knots, with a huge swell and waves. At times the wind picked up and it was great surfing downwind.

"I had a bad first race, but managed tenh in the second one. Ireland hasn't qualified for the Games yet. There's three of us trying,"
the 23 year-old from Bangor said.

Race 1

Michael BULLOT (NZL), who had been in second place for most of the race, stole the lead from Adonis BOUGIOURIS (GRE) between the last mark and the finish to claim the win from the Greek and World Champion SLINGSBY in the Blue group.

SLINGSBY was lucky to work his way back to third after rounding the wrong first windward mark on the trapezoid course.

In the Yellow group, winner ALSOGARAY got off the start well to round the first two marks in the lead position. He lost his lead briefly, but recovered well to get the gun.

Second home was Milan VUJASINOVI? (CRO), with young Cypriot sailor KONTIDES third. The two sailed top ten throughout the course.

The Red group was away last. FONTES sailed a steady race to claim first place from DEL SOLAR and Rasmus MYRGREN (SWE)

Race 2

ALSOGARAY took out race 2 in the Yellow group from ZBOGAR, Philip WENDER (BRA) and KONTIDES fourth. In light and shifty south southeasterly winds on a big 3-4 metre swell and big waves.

Gustavo LIMA (POR) was first over the line in the Blue group from FUNK, Jean Baptiste BERNAZ (FRA), Igor LISOVENKO (RUS) and SLINGSBY fifth

FONTES from Brazil was a happy man on coming ashore, after impressing in both Red group races. "I am very happy. This was a good day - a nice day. It was hard sailing; big waves and light breeze. I prefer more wind, but I trained hard for this Championship.

"Brazil has qualified for the Games, but when I go home I have to do another regatta to get selected for the Games, so to do well here, well this is a good start,"
he said.

In other news, Toby SCHADEWALDT (GER), Marc SCHMIT (LUX) and Christoph BOTTONI (SUI) were the first three casualties of the day, disqualified by the International Jury.

"I was sent home by the jury," said SCHMIT. "One of the German boats caused an incident with about 20 of us at the start. I tried to get out and I pumped twice to make some space between us - I made a mistake and got disqualified," said the disappointed 22 year old who is trying to qualify Luxembourg for the Beijing Games.

SCHADEWALDT was yellow flagged twice. "I got my first flag for body pumping just before the finish in race 1. In the second race, I heeled my boat over to see if there was weed under my boat; I pumped to right the boat and the jury disqualified me.

"Maybe they thought I did something else; it was hard for them to see me properly, as there was a very big swell and it was very light and shifty. Not a good day for me,"
the 23 year old said.

"I had some troubles," said BOTTONI. "For the first time in my life I got two yellow flags. I think it is quite strange; I've been competing in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney and this never happened.

"There were lots of waves, big swell and light breeze - it was hard to move. I got disqualified for pumping."


Results are provisional pending protests. Racing continues tomorrow from 13:00 when two races are scheduled.

Sailing enthusiasts can follow the top 20 marking roundings and finish results of each group as they happen by going to the official site and go to 'Standard' on the menu bar, then 'Mark Roundings'.

Results - http://aus08.laserinternational.org/results.php
Laser World Championship - http://aus08.laserinternational.org/

Di Pearson
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