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18 January 2010, 11:32 pm
French Win Race Three Whilst Britain Take The Overall Lead At Star Worlds
The French team of Xavier Rohart and Pierre Alexis Ponsot
Xavier Rohart and Pierre Alexis Ponsot of France excelled in the light air conditions on day three in Rio

Star World Championship 2010
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The French team of Xavier Rohart and Pierre Alexis Ponsot scored a runaway victory in race three of the Star Worlds in Rio, whilst a second place finish for Olympic champions Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson moves the Brits into a seven-point overall lead.
Xavier Rohart and Pierre-Alexis Ponsot (FRA) fought like attack dogs against a pack of 144 wolves for the choice filet mignon from Porcão. They won the pin and the left hand side of the course during the start of race three of the 2010 Star World Championship in Rio de Janeiro. Renato Cunha and Marcel Mascarenhas (BRA), Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson (GBR), Gustavo Lima and Charles Nankin (POR) and Diego Negri and Ferdinando Colaninno (ITA) led the attempt to hunt down the French, but didn't have the stamina to get the job done.

The 2003 and 2005 Star World Champion, Rohart, and new crew for this Olympic cycle Ponsot won the light air race under cloudy skies with a margin that matched Lars Grael and Ronald Seifert's (BRA) horizon job during the final race of the 2009 Star World Championship in Varberg, Sweden.

Rohart and Ponsot have been struggling for speed for nearly a year following a cycling accident that Rohart had last spring. Said a very pleased Rohart following the race, "We worked hard for that! We were especially fast downwind."

Rohart added, "Everything went well for us, we were going very fast and seemed to have a green light the whole way." Despite their win today, the French duo still have some way to go to get back into contention in the overall standings after finishing 66th in the first race and 14th in the second. "The first race was a real disaster for us and we took note of our problems," explained Rohart. "Now we have to hope that Iain and Swiss sailors Flávio Marazzi and Enrico de Maria will make mistakes but that is very unlikely," he added of their current position of 26th in the overall standing

The key to their win was the start. Rohart commented on their determination to be at the pin during each attempted start of race three in the light air and current, "Yes. We were there. There were a lot of boats down there."

Their sensational start and great first beat up the left hand side of the course gave them a comfortable lead at the first weather mark, and they extended from there.

Percy and Simpson made good on yesterday's promise to perform better today. With their second place finish, Percy and Simpson move to the top of the leaderboard. "We made some changes in our sailing compared to Sunday and this new technique is paying off," said Percy. Despite their strong performance today, the reigning Olympic Champions admitted they were looking forward to the return stronger wind conditions, "Wind like this is difficult. We have confidence in our speed when it gets windier."

Alan Adler and Guilherme Almeida(BRA) finished 11th. Their three-race total of 22 points places them seven points behind the 2008 Olympic gold medallists. "We tried to have the best possible race and 11th place is a good result in a fleet as strong as this one," said Adler, 1989 Star World Champion in Italy. "Now we have to focus on Tuesday's race and maintain our consistent results."

The Brits and Eivind Melleby and Petter Morland Pedersen (NOR) made the biggest gains at the front of the pack. The Norwegians' fourth place finish today raises them to third overall in the regatta. The German team Johannes Babendererde and Timo Jacobs, who dominated the first two days of the World Championship, finished in 39th place in Monday's race and are now in 11th position overall. After winning race two yesterday, the Swiss world #1 ranked team of Flavio Marazzi and Enrico De Maria posted another strong finish of sixth to climb up to sixth overall.

The surprises in the race came from the newcomers to Star sailing. Cunha and Mascarenhas had practice one day together and Cunha has only been in the boat this season. His advantage is that he has been a local harbour pilot for 15 years and knows what to expect during different tidal and wind conditions. The pair hung with the big boys, even during the final beat when the wind came up and all of the crews were hiking. Percy and Simpson crossed the finish line at the pin end on starboard and Cuhna and Mascarenhas dipped the Brits stern to take third place. Lima and Nankin showed remarkable poise by rounded the first weather mark in fifth place, holding on for a long while and finishing in ninth, right behind compatriots, Juan Kouyoumdjian and Alejandro Colla (ARG).

Defending Star World Champions George Szabo and Rick Peters (USA) had their best performance thus far and finished in 10th place.

Racing continues in Rio on Wednesday with race four of the series scheduled, following which each crew my discard their worst score from their overall points total.

Results - click here

Star World Championship Page

Get all the news, photos and more on the 2010 Star World Championship on our dedicated regatta page via the link below.

Click here for our 2010 Star Worlds page.

The Star World Championship 2010 is sponsored by Banco do Brasil, Transpetro, Governo Federal, Gol Linhas Aéreas, Santa Constanza, Wollner and Secretaria Estadual de Turismo, Esporte e Lazer do Rio de Janeiro. The event is organized by Iate Clube do Rio de Janeiro, International Star Class Yacht Racing Association (ISCYRA), Confederação Brasileira de Vela e Motor (CBVM) and Federação de Vela do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (FEVERJ).

Lynn Fitzpatrick/ZDL (As Amended By ISAF)
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