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23 July 2003, 01:09 pm
Shifty Conditions Challenge Sailors
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420 World Championship
Hayling Island

Unpredictable wind conditions challenged the sailors on the third day of racing for the event. The south-westerly wind shifted considerably and, with gusts of up to 20 knots, the choppy sea and changeable breeze provided demanding conditions.
Wind shifts twice required the start to be delayed and the line was reset once to compensate. Crashing masts and encounters with the mark boat indicated that a few were finding the wind and waves a challenge, but most of the competitors seemed to cope well with the variable conditions. Only three black flags were awarded and a number of starters managed to take advantage of the jostling pack to get ahead with a port end flyer.

Consistency and determination marked the leaders today. In the Women's Championship, Brazilian pair Isabel FLICKER and Laura ZANNI flew past strong German team Dorothea GEBERT and Natascha LORENZ to take the overall lead with a second and a first. Flicker and Zanni now have three firsts from the last four races and, if they can continue their fantastic run, they will be difficult to beat. Gebert and Lorenz remain promising, however, winning the first race of the day. Good results enabled Charlotte SAVAGE and Maia WALSH (GBR), Virginia Morales PAEZ and Elena Barambio HURTAOO (ESP) and Silke HAHLBROCK and Marion ROMMEL (GER) to remain in touch with the leaders, but they will need to work hard to keep up with the Brazilian pair in this spectacular form. The overall standard of racing has been very high, with the ladies coping with the changeable wind; the British and German teams are proving very strong in this championship, with 5 and 4 boats respectively in the top 15.

In their first day of racing in Gold and Silver fleets, the Men's Championship had a considerably more unsettled day than the Ladies. With a number of delays, the starts remained extremely competitive, but some of the leaders were delayed by heading for the wrong mark. 2 spinnaker poles were broken and required replacement and one Irish boat broke a mast and was towed in after the first race; this unfortunately incident however provided an example of the great spirit of sportsmanship which has marked this event, as a Greek coach came to their aid and took down the broken mast in choppy sea. 'Brilliant work', in the words of one observer! The top boats remained largely untroubled, although steadiness and reliability were the keys to success today and the top placings were well spread. A 3rd and an 11th was sufficient to give Spanish pair Jose Antonino Medina RUIZ and Onan Barreiros RODRIGUEZ the lead overnight, with round robin winners George VASSILAS and Evangelos MITAKIS of Greece in 2nd. France have also continued their excellent run, Alexandre ROSSIGNOL and David BOUDGOURD in 3rd at the head of a group of 4 French boats. Australian pair Morten BOGACKI and Felix PATTERSON remain in touch and may well rise through the rankings when a discard comes into play, and Oliver DIX and Philip LASKO in 8th lead a strong British contingent who hold 5 places in the top 15.

As strong leaders emerge in both fleets, every result for the ladies is now becoming significant, whilst the men's competition remains open with 9 races still to sail.

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