Day six at the ISAF World Championship here in Cadiz was dominated by the news that Siren Sundby seems to be running away with the Championship, and a broken rig in the Star Class.
Five classes raced today, not including the Finn class who had a practice race following completion of their measurement period. Racing for them starts tomorrow, with the remainder of the classes beginning on Thursday. From then on in, all the classes are racing, and the Championship really heats up.
The Europe fleet sailed the first two races of their final series, and it was a day that Siren SUNDBY
could really call her own, despite a slip in the first race to 15. A win in the second race of the day, and the eighth of the series has given her the lead overall, with 21-points over the second placed Lenka SMIDOVA
Siren highlighted her performance in the first race 'Lenka is very consistent and as a result can be very difficult to beat. If I have a bad race, she just keeps being consistent"
. In the first race, Smidova scored a seventh, bettering Sundby's result, and now has a complete set of results in the top ten.
Sundby's friend and biggest rival Sari MULTALA
(FIN), won the first race today, but a couple of bad results in yesterday's big Levante, puts her in fourth overall, ten points behind Trine ABRAHAMSEN
Sundby is holding a commanding position in the Championship and oozes confidence more associated with sailors much older than her 20 years of age. "If I relax and get some top five or top ten results in the rest of the championship, I think I can win it"
In the Mistral fleet, things were looking good for Greek champion Nikos KAKLAMANAKIS
. In race three of the qualification stages, he scored a creditable second place finish, and looked like he topped it with a victory in the second race of the day, but a pushy start saw Nikos disqualified for being On Course Side. That misdemeanour drops the former world champion and Olympic Gold medallist to 31 place at the moment.
In the first men's race of the day, Przemyslaw MIARCZYNSKI
(POL), better known to the fleet as "Pont" continued to show his dominance as a high wind sailor by winning his third race in a row by a comfortable margin over the rest of the fleet. He dropped to eighth in the second race of the day and is now tied for first place with Joao RODRIGUEZ (POR) 1995 Mistral World Champion.
Rodriguez has so far sailed a consistent series, not having dropped out of the top five at all in the four races held so far. Julien BONTEMPS, the best placed French windsurfer in Cadiz, and current European Champion, had an uncharacteristic seventh place in the first race today, but came back hard with a third in the second group race of the day.
(NZL), is the top ranked Oceanic windsurfer and the first non European in the current results. He has remained fairly consistent in the bigger breeze experienced over the last couple of days, with a 2,6,2,7 scorecard. He is currently four points behind Bontemps.
The men now go into the final day of qualification races tomorrow, before the fleet is separated into Gold and Silver Fleet, with the 2003 World Champion being decided from the Gold fleet, after six more races. There are also a chance for 15 nations who have not yet done so, to qualify for an entry to the Olympic Regatta in Athens 2004.
Mistral Men © David Bell
The women, who due to the size of their fleet sail as one group in a straight series of up to 12 races, got a further two in today on the same course as the men. There seems to be a change of the perceived form in the fleet after the first two days of racing, some of the younger sailors, mixing it up with some of the mostexperienced and best in the World.
(NZL) and Jessica CRISP
(AUS), in second and third position respectively, are feeling the pressure from the younger guard, with recently crowned ISAF Youth Sailing World Champion, 17 year-old Zofia KLEPACKA
(POL), currently in fourth place, only a single point behind Crisp in fourth place.
But it is recent convert from Freestyle and Funboard, 18 year old Lee KORSITZ
(ISR), who is stealing the show from the rest of the World. With nothing worse than a sixth place finish, and with winning the first race of the class her at the ISAF World Championship, she is rapidly staking her claim as one of the best in the world and she is only going to get better.
Olympic gold medallist Shirley ROBERTSON
(GBR) returned to form on the third day in the Yngling. Sailing with Sarah WEBB and Sarah AYTON they managed a third and a second in the 41 boat fleet to catapult themselves up the score board to seventh place overall.
This move up the scoreboard put them a step closer to qualifying Great Britain in the class for the Olympic Games and also their own ticket to Athens.
Robertson summed up the teams performance in the event so far, "We were not sure what went wrong on the first day but we seemed very slow and it was really frustrating, yesterday we were still not the fastest and were not that sharp but today we sailed a lot smarter and it paid off. On the whole we are reasonably happy, we can't afford to mess up so we just need to sail relatively steady, not push the lines and take each day as it comes."
Day Three of the Ynglings © Event Media
, Wibke BUELLE and Winnie LIPPERT (GER) of Germany have taken over the lead in the class but with only six points separating first and sixth place and with five races still to go there is all to play for.
Action from the Stars first day © Annemiek Van Kinderen Photography
Weatherwise, an excellent opening day for the Stars, albeit patchy at times, but a good wind of 10-14 knots. After yesterday's abandoned racing, it is the kids on the block who are at the front, with Francesco BRUNI and Guido VIGNA (ITA) leading overall.
The 82 boat Star fleet hosts some of the most well known names in the sport, including those who alongside Olympic sailing, combine America's Cup, Volvo Ocean Race and big boat racing careers.
However, with only 7 places for Olympic qualification, available here in Cadiz it doesn't matter who you are, what counts is performance. There is no question what whilst respecting some of the "rock stars" the fleet is all in there with an equal chance.
Speaking on their win, MARAZZI commented, "We were tenth at the leeward mark, going into the second upwind leg. Most of the fleet went left, and we chose to go right which paid off as there was a huge shift favouring the right and by the windward mark we were into second place, with just Mark REYNOLDs ahead. Going to the leeward mark, Mark went to the left and waited too long to gybe, whilst all those who gybed early got ahead. Going to the line, it was very close and we just beat Francesco BRUNI by a meter."
With Switzerland not yet qualified for Athens, they are hoping to maintain their position as the top placed Swiss crew alongside being high enough placed to qualify for Athens. If achieved, the decision on which Swiss crew will actually take this slot will be based on results at the 2004 Worlds and Europeans. With more than 10 years experience in the class, and the knowledge acquired from Sydney 2000, where Flavia placed 19 when sailing with his brother, he is confident that with crew Enrico they can be in Athens a year from now.
Elsewhere in the fleet, a disappointing day for the renowned Colin BEASHEL (AUS)
and David GILES, winner of the 1998 Star Worlds and Bronze Medallists at the 1996 Olympic Regatta, who suffered a broken mast at the start of race two. A credible ninth place in race one was a good opener in this tough fleet. However, with rigging failure on the start line, down came the mast. They got back into the dock and out to the start with another mast, but missed it by four minutes, and according to the sailing instructions unless you have crossed the line within 4 minutes of the gun you are scored DNC. So with two DNC's to their series, and only one discard allowed in the 11 races, it is going to be tough to get back up. As the Australian Team Leader, Graeme ROBERTS-THOMPSON commented, "You'd certainly be hoping to qualify Australia with these two. This is the hard luck story of the day and with only one drop it's going to be tough."
Dismasted Australian Star © ISAF
However, more fortunate at the front of the fleet was Francesco BRUNI (ITA) and Guido VIGNA, who, with a world ranking of 41, outclassed the fleet, with three top five results. A bullet in race 1, was followed by a second and fourth, to lead the fleet by one point over Xavier ROHART (FRA) and Pascal RAMBEAU and Fredrik LOOF (SWE) and Anders EKSTROM. Bruni comes to the Star Class as a relative newcomer, counting only 2003 results in his world ranking, and has enjoyed a meteoric rise up the rankings from 128 in May to his current position. However, Francesco does appear to be a bit split as to which class he prefers, having also been competing on the 49er circuit, a class in which he holds a world ranking of 72, down from the world's number 10 spot he held just over a year ago. Presumably, he retains an option in both classes, and if the Star doesn't work out could jump ship back to the 49er. We will see, but judging by today's performance he looks pretty comfortable where he is.
Defending World Champions, Iain PERCY (GBR) and Steve MITCHELL also enjoyed a good opening day with bullets in both races 2 and 3, to sit in fifth overall. Another convert from the Finn to the Star, Fredrik LOOF (SWE) and Anders EKSTROM, who won the 2001 World Champions, despite no bullets sailed a consistent 3, 6, 2 to sit in third.
With the biggest entry of 9 boats in the fleet, one's eyes are drawn to the USA team which fields Paul CAYARD and Phil TRINTER, against the likes of Mark REYNOLDS and Magnus LILEJADHL (USA), to name a few. With USA already qualified, for the American sailors this Championship is more about the World Championship title, than qualification. Regardless of their final placings, the USA crew for Athens will be selected from the `make or break' trials to be held in the USA in February 2004, where the winning crew takes all.
Overall, all the world's top ranked sailors have faired reasonably well, but with another three races scheduled for tomorrow, after Monday's abandoned opening day, it will be a tough day.
Full results and detailed reports on each event are available on the event website at the address below.