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7 February 2008, 09:32 am
No Racing On Day One At Laser Worlds
The Lasers lined up in the boat part
All dressed up and nowhere to go!

Laser World Championship 2008
Terrigal, New South Wales, Australia

Race Officials at the Laser World Championship, being sailed off Terrigal, Australia were forced to abandon attempts at racing on day one.
Racing was finally called off for the day at 15:30 local time with reports of more thunderstorms on the way up from Sydney.

Earlier in the day, the Australian Laser Dealers Qualifier races 1 and 2 were postponed due to extremely light shifty breezes. Then organizers sent the 160 competitors from 56 nations on the water, only to have them return when severe south-easterly winds and a thunderstorm arrived.

Sailors waited patiently ashore and just when the thunder, lightning and rain appeared to have dissipated, weather forecasters said another severe thunderstorm had hit Bankstown in Sydney and was headed north, expected to hit Terrigal along the way.

The situation gave organisers no alternative but to abandon racing for the day, as apart from the high winds, a lightning strike could prove fatal.

Race officials hope the weather will improve tomorrow when they plan to sail races 1 and 2. From there, a decision will be made as to whether any extra races will be sailed to make up for the loss of one day's racing.

Sailors packed their boats quickly and departed The Haven at Terrigal on the NSW Central Coast quickly.

All Part Of The Game

In the boat park, the competitors did not seem too worried about missing the first day of racing. "I don't mind waiting," said Simon GROTELUESCHEN from Germany. "You get used to this at regattas; it is a normal part of sailing life. It doesn't make us nervous," he said.

The lone Singapore entry, Seng Leong KOH, spent the spare time acquainting a small group of sailors with Chinese culture and traditions.

"This is a big deal for me today. It is the start of Chinese New Year," says KOH, who is hoping the Chinese New Year may help him qualify Singapore for the Olympic Games in Beijing.

"It goes for three days. Married men must give money to single men. I am waiting for my coach [Australian Brett BEYER] to hand me a packet of red money."

"Where is my money," he questions BEYER, a top Laser sailor himself.

"He feels deprived because I won't hand over money, which must be wrapped in red paper," responded BEYER, laughing.

"He is teaching the other sailors here all about Chinese tradition - it's taking all their minds off the start delay," adds BEYER.

Andrew LEWIS from Trinidad is also hoping to qualify for the Olympic Games and like KOH, is the lone competitor from his country.

"I have to qualify here," says the 18 year old. "I think I can do it." A big call for the former Laser Radial sailor who has only sailed in the Laser for the last four months. A bigger call considering he is 10 kilos under the average Laser sailor's weight.

"I have been training here at Terrigal for eight days and I did a lot of training in Sydney. I am better in light winds because I am light, but I am happy to sail in all conditions," he says.

LEWIS is up against 25 others for the last ten Olympic qualifying places. Fernando ALEGRE, his coach, says: "I have coached Andrew since he sailed Optimists. He is a very good sailor. He knows who he has to beat at the World's, and knows he just has to do his best against the others."

"I cannot control what my competition does, so I just have to look out for myself," says a confident LEWIS, who is a four-time Caribbean Dinghy Champion. "I am only 18, so there are many opportunities in front of me," he adds.

Laser World Championship - http://aus08.laserinternational.org/

Di Pearson
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