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10 February 2008, 08:20 am
SLINGSBY Top As Tough Get Going At Laser Worlds
Action from the start
Lasers away!

Laser World Championship 2008
Terrigal, New South Wales, Australia

World Champion Tom SLINGSBY grabbed a marginal lead at the Laser World Championship, revelling on his home waters off Terrigal on the Boral-sponsored day four of racing.
Tom SLINGSBY (AUS) takes the lead with near-perfect timing, with the groups being split into gold, silver and bronze for the finals starting tomorrow.

The 23 year-old Aussie scored a bullet, a fourth and second places today to lead the series on 11 points from yesterday's leader Julio ALSOGARAY (ARG) just four points behind.

SLINGSBY is staying consistent, using a fifth place as his race drop, while the Argentinean continues to sail brilliantly, but uncharacteristic eighth and seventh places let him down a bit today. David WEAVER (NZL) had another good day with 4,1,4 results to sit nicely in third place overall, six points behind the leader.

In SLINGSBY's yellow group today were major adversaries Paul GOODISON (GBR), #2 in the ISAF World Sailing Rankings, and World #4 Andrew MURDOCH (NZL). It was back to a lovely sunny summer day; thankfully the rain and thunderstorms were missing.

"I'm tired," SLINGSBY said clambering up the ramp this afternoon; "Tired but happy. Andrew [MURDOCH] was a bit too quick today. He sailed smart and everywhere he went turned to gold. But I'm happy with how I'm going; I'm sailing consistent. I just have to make sure I don't have any bad races now. Good starts will be crucial," SLINGSBY said.

"We duked it out between the three of us," said MURDOCH laughing. "We had very close racing in our group; it was a great group.

"We sailed so hard in that second race [race 5] that I thought we wouldn't have anything left in the tank for the last race of the day."
MURDOCH said conditions were mostly round the 20 knot mark and gusting. "On the last reach, we got as little as 10 knots at times. It was nice sailing"

Whilst SLINGSBY has been at the top end of the scoreboard throughout the series so far, GOODISON and MURDOCH started their campaign slowly. As is usual with the two, they are quietly making their way to the top of the leaderboard.

"I had a really bad first day. I put it out of my mind and decided to start the second day with a clean sheet. It seems to have worked. I kept things simple today - I didn't panic," said the Kiwi sailor who pulled out a second and two bullets to lift up the board into eighth place.

GOODISON also moved up the leaderboard today into sixth place with a pair of third places and a fourth in his tally. In my book, he will be the prime danger to SLINGSBY, whom he overcame on the final day of the Laser Asia Pacific Championship at Sail Melbourne last month.

"I've been a little frustrated with the weather until yesterday. The sailing today was good. I had a very frustrating first day. It's all about trying to piece it together now," said the Brit.

In the blue group, Brad FUNK (USA), who had been having a fabulous regatta, dropped down the board. FUNK, who finished runner-up in the USA selections for the Beijing Games, scored a third in race 4 to be second placed behind SLINGSBY, but then all came undone. "I got Black Flagged in race 5 and then I went round a wrong mark in race 6.

"I could have won all three races if I'd got it right. I'm hoping we get two throw-outs [race drops]. I'm just happy to be in Australia. It's great,"
said FUNK, one of the most popular sailors in park said after spiralling down the board into 24th overall.

The 'player of the day' award goes to Gustavo LIMA from Portugal. On the last reach in race 6, sailing in the blue group, LIMA was on the receiving end of a rocking penalty. "That's it," we all thought, but no, LIMA took his 720-degree penalty turn in style, and came back to win the race in the final stages. Brilliant sailing!

The Championship got tough when winds reached 25 knots, and up to 28 in the gusts, on big seas and swells off Terrigal in Australia today, but Race Officials breathed a sigh of relief as they managed to put three races to bed, starting the first group shortly after 09:30. They did an excellent job.

Some sailors, however, did not enjoy conditions; exhaustion bringing them back to the Terrigal Trojan Rugby Club base. Andrey QUINTERO (COL), trying to qualify Columbia for the Games was amongst the casualties. "The winds, the waves and the swell got so big; I just am not used to that. I am back because I am very tired," the normally smiling QUINTERO said.

Adil MOHAMMAD from the United Arab Emirates told a similar story. "Too much wind, so difficult, big waves, too much gusts," said MOHAMMED who went on to say: "I am a bit light - around 68 kilos - for these big winds. I kept capsizing."

Zimbabwe's Patrick MCCOSH too, had trouble. "I capsized in the second race. By the time I got afloat again, the third race had started - and I would have been so far behind, I pulled out. We just don't sail in these sorts of conditions at home."

For Brazilian sailor Mateus TAVARES, illness rather than the conditions, brought him ashore. "My championship is complicated. I did not do so well this morning in the first race. I am not feeling very well. I am going to lie down and see how I feel in the morning. If I am not well, then I will go home to Brazil and get ready for our Olympic selection series," he said.

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

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

Di Pearson
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