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11 February 2008, 09:26 am
Argentina Reclaims Lead Of Laser Worlds
Julio ALSOGARAY has been prominent throughout the Worlds

Laser World Championship 2008
Terrigal, New South Wales, Australia

Julio ALSOGARAY reclaimed the lead after the first day of gold-fleet racing at the ISAF Grade W Laser World Championship in Terrigal.
It was a beautiful summer's day in Terrigal on the first day of the final series at the 2008 Laser Worlds sponsored by Ross Fehlberg Austorient. Sunny skies and a pleasant 10-15 knot northeasterly breeze made for ideal sailing conditions.

In the 54-boat gold fleet, reigning World Champion Tom SLINGSBY (AUS) lost his championship lead to Julio ALSOGARAY from Argentina. ALSOGARAY continues to sail smartly and has moved back into the lead he had until yesterday.

"It was shifty and I went the wrong way every time; I had a really bad day," an understandably unhappy SLINGSBY said after his worst results so far - a 14th and an 18th to move down into second place, seven points behind ALSOGARAY who is on 23 points following fourth places in race 7 and 8.

"It was good racing. I had a good performance with fast speed. There were lots of shifts and I picked them," the Argentinean said, revealing: "Music from Argentina inspires me."

Not one of the hot favourites going in to the championship, ALSOGARAY says: "I expected to do well. I am very confident with my speed. I will do everything in my power I can to win the Worlds - that is why I came to Australia."

Spanish entry Javier HERNANDEZ is third overall, 19 points behind ALSOGARAY. Felix PRUVOT (FRA) moves up into fourth place (44 points) and Michael BULLOT (NZL) is fifth (49 points).

Like SLINGSBY, championship favourites Paul GOODISON (GBR) and Andrew MURDOCH (NZL) did not have a good day across the board and both slid down the results; MURDOCH from eight to 12th after 28th and 15th finishes and GOODISON from sixth to 15th following third and 20th finishes.

Others were happy with their lot in life. Brazilian Bruno FONTES, in eighth place overall said: "I had a good day - my first final day was a really good day. I am happy," he said.

"Sailing was nice. I went OK. I have been sick, but I am better today - it is nice to have the sun back," said Arvid CLAESON (SWE) who is currently 39th overall.

Overall in 20th place, Jean Baptiste BERNAZ (FRA) was smiling. "I finished second in race 8, which is much better than my 27th in the earlier race," he said.

Athens Laser bronze medallist Vasilij ZBOGAR (SLO) is in seventh place overall. "I did not do very good [he finished 13th and 16th], it was very patchy - the shifts went left and right - it was very hard to predict. Not easy."

The ever-positive American Brad FUNK had a better day and moved up from 27th to 19th overall. "I had a really great day; I got the nerves out of my system and just went sailing. It was beautiful conditions. I saw a 6-foot shark out there. He told me his name was Willy!"

Greek sailor Adonis BOUGIOURIS in 28th overall: "I had one bad race, finished 36th, then I had one good race, finished tenth! It was very, very shifty; you couldn't predict what would happen next."

Too many sailors came ashore early; most were black flagged following general recalls. In fact four from the silver fleet and a staggering 11 from the bronze fleet were sent home from the last race of the day.

Irish sailor Anthony CRAIG, one of many trying to qualify his nation for the Beijing Games, was one of the first to go in the silver fleet. "I had a disaster in the first race and then I got done. It was great breeze out there though. It was around 10 knots in the earlier race and increased to around 15 knots from northeast," CRAIG said.

Australian Simon MORGAN came ashore with the same tale. "I didn't do very well in the first race and then I got black flagged," he said. Canadian Chris DOLD also went. "I finished around 15th in the first race, but I was black flagged in the second. Apart from that, I'm enjoying the championship," he said.

Hosted by Gosford Sailing Club, the Championship results are provisional pending protests and official confirmation.

Korea First Olympic Qualifier

Jeemin HA (KOR) made a name for himself as his overall score on reaching shore following three races at the Laser World Championship on Sunday guaranteed him a place in the 54-boat gold fleet. With a place in the top 54 now guaranteed he has also achieved Beijing Olympic Games qualification for Korea.

HA, who first alerted the world to his talent with top-ten finishes at the last two Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championships, found out on Monday morning but was oddly subdued. "Yes, it is good for me and Korea. It is special," he said when questioned, but was not running around telling everyone as most others would.

The only non-qualified nation sailor to make the gold fleet, HA said he felt proud to be in the Gold fleet, from where the Championship winner would come, and to qualify Korea for the Games, but now wanted to concentrate on the rest of the championship, due to finish on Wednesday afternoon. Only nine places for the Beijing Games in the Laser class remain.

Others in the running to qualify their nations at the Worlds being held off Terrigal in Australia are in the silver fleet and include; Andreas GERITZER (AUT), Raul AGUAYO (DOM), Juan MAEGLI (GUA), Gyorgy FAZAKAS and Zsombor BERECZ (HUN), Anthony CRAIG and Ryan SEATON (IRL), Hisaki NAGAI, Yoichi IIJIMA and Yoshihiro OKINISHI (JPN), Kevin LIM (MAS), Igor LISOVENKO and Maxim SEMERKHANOV (RUS), Seng Leong KOH (SIN) and Christoph BOTTONI and Max BULLEY (SUI).

This is the final opportunity for nations to qualify for Beijing. The best nine unqualified nations at the end of the Laser Worlds will gain the final places.

Those who missed out hid their disappointment well as they headed out of the boat park onto the race track this morning. "Today is another day. I will go and try my best," smiled Colombian sailor Andrey QUINTERO who is in Australia without a coach or support.

Masters World Championship

While the World Championship is drawing to a close on Wednesday, a few of the keener competitors entered for the Laser Masters World Championship have been arriving over the last few days to get in some early practice before their racing starts on 17 February. The Opening Ceremony will be held the previous evening.

Results -
Laser World Championship -

Di Pearson
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