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24 July 2003, 05:20 pm
Shifting Winds Shake Up the Fleet
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420 World Championship
Hayling Island

Shifty conditions continued at Hayling Island Sailing Club today, unsettling the fleets. Marks needed to be relaid due to the changeable conditions 22 times, with the result that each of the three sets of races took place on a totally different course.
The Race Officer remained impressed with the sustained high standard of starting and sailing, however; only one general recall was required (in the Ladies fleet.)

The tricky conditions made tactics of vital importance today. With the unpredictable wind varying between WNW and SSW, those teams who had predetermined plans found themselves at the mercy of sudden shifts and the pairs who prospered were those who spotted the changes early and compensated. At the beginning of the day, it was impossible to trapeze successfully, but with the wind moving between ten and twenty knots there were conditions to suit all tastes.

A sixth and a ninth were sufficient for Jose Antonio Medina RUIZ and Onan Barreiros RODRIGUEZ to consolidate their hold on the Men's Championship. Now nine points ahead of their nearest rivals, today's measured and conservative performance suited the conditions precisely and allowed them to remain ahead of the shuffling pack. Only seventeen points separate the second and seventh boats, indicating the variable performances of the chasing pack.

The French team have reasserted their early dominance; Nicolas DURON and Sebastian DURAND have jumped into second with a win and two top ten placings, followed closely by Morgan LAGRANIERE and Nor DELPELCH and Alexandre ROSSIGNOL and David Boudgourd. A disappointing day for George VASSILAS and Evangelos MITAKIS (GRE) and Luke PATIENCE and Adam WAGNER (GBR) saw them suffer from the windshifts and fall out of the top five. A black flag in the final race for Patience and Wagner cost them the first which would have kept them in contention.

The consistency of Ruiz and Rodriguez has been the key to their success and today's careful results are a continued example of the thoughtful skill which has given them a good lead going into the final day. Although outstanding wins have enabled a number of competitors to leap up the rankings, it is consistent top ten places which are currently marking the Spanish team out from the rest.

In the Ladies Championship, the recent ascendancy of Isabel FICKER and Laura ZANNI was broken, their run of firsts ended with a sixth and an eleventh. Although the Brazilian team remain ahead overnight, their lead has been cut to only four points by British pair Charlotte SAVAGE and Maia WALSH, who edged closer to adding a World title to their National and Junior European crowns. A first and a fourth were sufficient to put Savage and Walsh in contention, but with only one race still to sail Ficker and Zanni must remain favourites to win. Wind conditions will prove critical tomorrow as the Brazilian team have flown round the course in the stronger more consistent breeze, whilst Savage and Walsh today showed their tactical superiority in playing the wind shifts. Barring the unexpected, the medals now seem likely to be divided between Brazil, Great Britain and Germany. Dorothea GEBERT and Natascha LORENZ lie in the bronze medal, with only one point's advantage over their compatriots Silke HAHLBROCK and Marion ROMMEL.

In the Silver fleet, German pair Martin and Oliver LEWIN remain dominant at the top of the table with a thirty point cushion, but in the race for the titles every result is now critical. For the ladies, tomorrow's final race will be make or break; every team knows exactly what they must do. With two races remaining, consistency will remain key for in the men's fleet, but an outstanding performance could still snatch the title.

Full results are available on the event website at the address below.
Caroline Dodds (As Amended by ISAF News Editor)
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