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8 January 2003, 10:16 am
Chaos and Injury Strike in Big Winds
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Australian 49er Championship

We thought yesterday was tough at the Sail Melbourne 49er Australian Championship, but Day 4 had a disastrous effect for many sailing out of Royal Geelong Yacht Club in Victoria.
In the worst incident of the day, Italian Gianfranco Sibello (ITA), crewing for his brother Pietro, had to be rushed to hospital with a suspected fractured or broken arm. At the time of writing, Sibello was with doctors in the X-Ray room waiting to hear his fate.

Apart from the injury, this will be a major blow for the Sibello's who were leading the series, and leading today's opening Race 8, which they were obviously unable to finish or compete in the second race sailed.

Race Officials reported that the incident occurred on the last leg of the race on which the Sibello's had a good 200 metre lead in the 19-20 knots of breeze with relatively flat seas.

Both John Harris/Euan McNicol (NSW) and Mark Turnbull Nick Partridge (VIC) were OCS's for which it is believed both are protesting the Race Committee, and could affect the results.

Placegetters in Race 8 were Chris Nicholson/Gary Boyd in first, Denis Jones/Simon Sutherland, second and Jason Beebe/Phillip Manning in third.

In Race 9 today, breezes had eased to the 11-15 knots, which increased to 30 knots as the tailenders finished the race, causing Race Officials to abandon a planned further race.

Most boats had spectacular capsizes today, Chris Nicholson's so spectacular that he broke his rudder, Jake Newman broke his mast, as did David Maiden whilst leading the race - a bitter disappointment for both.

Top three results from Race 9 were: First, Turnbull/Partridge, followed by Harris/McNicol in second and Luca and Manuel Modena (ITA) in third place.

Progressively, after two race drops with two protests pending, Nicholson/Boyd lead with 19 points, from Turnbull/Partridge on 23 points and Sibello 24 points. In fourth place is Harris/McNicol with 32 points, Ben and Marcus Tardrew (VIC) are currently in fifth with 33 points.

Race organisers at Geelong abandoned racing for the rest of the day due to conditions.

With the series finishing tomorrow, Race Officials at Royal Geelong YC may attempt to finish four races if conditions allow.

At the time of writing, full results after race nine were not available, but will be posted as soon as they are published. Meanwhile, below are the top ten after 7 races.

Pos Nation Skipper Total R7 R6 R5 R4 R3 R2 R1
1 ITA P Siblello 17 5 2 3 2 -7 4 1
2 AUS C Nicholson 21 3 1 -9 7 3 1 6
3 AUS M Turnbull 22 7 5 1 1 5 3 -10
4 AUS B Tardrew 27 4 6 5 3 2 7 -12
5 JPN K Nakamura 28 8 7 4 6 1 2 -8
6 AUS J Harris 30 2 3 7 9 4 -9 5
7 RUS I Ermakov 40 10 -13 2 10 6 8 4
8 AUS A Linton 54 9 12 12 8 -12 11 2
9 AUS D Jones 56 1 10 13 13 9 10 (23.00F)
10 JPN T Sakama 57 6 15 8 12 10 6 -17

Di Pearson/ISAF News Editor
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