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4 February 2010, 03:42 pm
Close Racing On Day One Of Singapore Airlines Sail Auckland
Tom Ashley in action at Singapore Airlines Sail Auckland
Tom Ashley, Beijing Olympic gold medallist, back in action at Singapore Airlines Sail Auckland

Singapore Airlines Sail Auckland 2010
Auckland, New Zealand

The ISAF Grade 1 Singapore Airlines Sail Auckland got underway at Kohimarama Yacht Club on Thursday with a series of hard-fought races promising much for the rest of the week.
As well as being an ISAF Grade 1 event for the Olympic classes, Sail Auckland is also a major event in the Kiwi youth sailing calendar counting amongst the key selection events for NZL Yachting Trust Youth Team who will represented New Zealand at the 2010 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship in Istanbul, Turkey this July.

Day one provided an exciting start to the four-day regatta, with New Zealand's best putting on a strong show in the face of some impressive international competition. All divisions, except for the RS:X boards left Kohimarama Beach on time this morning to a nice 10-12 knot breeze. Unfortunately the breeze didn't last and the second races were completed around 14:00 after the Race Committee's had moved the courses. The RS:X boards had the best breeze of the day with an impressive sea-breeze of around 12-15 knots building in the afternoon. The final race for the day was completed around 19:00 when a tired bunch of men, women & youth board sailors returned to the beach.

Dutch sailor Dorian Van Rijsselberge leads the Men's RS:X fleet just clear of local rivals Jon-Paul Tobin (NZL), Olympic gold medallist Tom Ashley (NZL) and his training partner Antonio Cozzolino (NZL). Italian sailor Fabian Heidegger is just behind the Kiwi trio in fifth place overall.

In the RS:X fleet with the 8.5 metre rig, the women's and youth incarnation of the Olympic equipment, young French sailor Thomas Goyard had a flawless afternoon's racing with three wins out of three races. He is followed closely by the top female sailors Moana Delle from Germany, Italian Laura Linares and Takapuna local Kate Ellingham.

The new Kiwi 49er team has made major strides over the past two years and Olympic contender Peter Burling and his replacement crew for this regatta Riley Dean lead the 49er fleet over their only opposition Marcus Hansen and Andrew Clarke. Dean jumped at the chance to sail with Burling after his regular crew Blair Tuke was unable to sail due to illness.

Mark Overington and Ben Goodwin (NZL) lead the 470 fleet with two first and one second, over the Singaporean team helmed by Roy Junhao Tay. Yachting New Zealand Olympic Squad members Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie had an OCS in race one today, however the girls bounced back to gain a third and first in the following two races. After seven races are completed each competitor can drop one race.

Tom Saunders (NZL), who won the Laser Radial Class National Championships a week ago held in Timaru, currently leads the Radial Fleet. The top female Sara Winther had a fantastic day on the water and is second overall with an impressive 1, 7, 2 scorecard in the 39 boat fleet.

At the discretion of the National Authority, Yachting New Zealand, the top male and female youth of the combined events, National Championships and Sail Auckland will qualify to compete at the 2010 Youth Worlds. Molly Meech, the top contender for the female youth spot in Turkey is currently the top ranked youth female in the Radial fleet.

There were no surprises in the Laser class as current National Champion, and Olympic Squad member Andrew Murdoch (NZL) leads the 21-boat fleet. Chasing hard on his heels are two under 21 year old sailors Andy Maloney (NZL) and 2009 Youth Worlds winner Sam Meech (NZL) respectively.

Alexandra Maloney and her crew Sam Bullock, representing the Murrays Bay Sailing Club lead the 29er fleet with an impressive three firsts on day one in the eight-boat fleet. Second overall are Matthew Spray and Tyler Russell representing the Howick Yacht Club and behind them are the McKenzie brothers Andrew & Sam, just two points behind.

In the 420 event, James Turner and his star crew logan Dunning-Beck who won the Starling National Championships, are off to a great start winning two races out of the three today, and still lead overall despite gaining a Z-flag penalty in race two. (If a Z-flag is flown from the Committee Boat before the start of a race, any boat over the starting line before the final 1 minute is penalised 20%.) Second overall in the 14 boat fleet is Alex Munro and Luke Stevenson, and third is the Malaysian Sailing Team duo helmed by Mohammad Hafizzudin Mazelan.

Racing continues at 11:00 tomorrow.

Event website - www.sailauckland.org.nz.
Singapore Airlines Sail Auckland
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