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London 2012
9 September 2008, 02:02 pm
Americans Continue To Shine In SKUD18 Fleet
Dan FITZGIBBON and Rachael COX of Australia
Dan FITZGIBBON and Rachael COX continued to pressure the leaders with three second place finishes today

2008 Beijing Paralympic Games
Qingdao, China

The US team of Nick SCANDONE and Maureen MCKINNON-TUCKER continue to lead the way in the SKUD18 Paralympic event, winning another two races in Qingdao today.
As expected, the USA crew of Nick SCANDONE and Maureen MCKINNON-TUCKER have proven they are the 'ones to beat' for the Two-Person Keelboat SKUD18 gold medal. After their win and second-place finish yesterday, today they added a further two bullets followed by their worst score of the series, a third in race five, which has come into play as their race drop on day two of competition.

The close-knit American crew were all smiles as they left the race course this afternoon and many support boats blared their horns in appreciation of the superior sailing skill the two demonstrated.

"Our starts were bad, but we had good speed both up and downwind," said MCKINNON-TUCKER, adding: "We don't choke under pressure; instead, we kick it into next gear and do well."

SCANDONE and MCKINNON-TUCKER currently have two crews to worry about. Dan FITZGIBBON and Rachael COX (AUS) reeled off a trio of second places, adding to their second in race two yesterday, and are just three points off the lead.

The Canadian crew of John MCROBERTS and Stacie LOUTTIT added two further third places to their third of race two yesterday, then came home first in the final race of the day, race five. The Canadians are just two points behind the Australians following the race drop.

The top three are emerging as strong medal contenders. A further seven points separates the third place Canadians from the fourth place Chinese crew of Hailiang JIA and Xiujuan YANG.

Carl-Gustaf FRESK and Bitrgitta JACOBSSON (SWE) will be kicking themselves this afternoon. In the first race of the day, the Swedes had a massive lead, but threw it away by rounding the mark on the Sonar course instead of their own. Their lead had been so huge that they were still able to finish fourth behind the USA, Australian and Canadian crews as they charged home down the run.

In race four the Canadian crew took the lead after breaking the start and having to return. However, in a replica of the Swedish crew, the Canadians picked the wrong side too, and it looked likely Australia would win the race. Nobody counted on the Americans, who came from behind to overtake FITZGIBBON and COX just short of the finish line. The Australians threw everything they had at the US crew, but were denied the win.

It was a pile-up at the leeward end of the start line in race five and the Australian crew quickly tacked off to the right and the US team followed. While the Americans kept in touch with the Australians, Canada's MCROBERTS and LOUTTIT got away from both for a clear win. The USA crew tried to lure the Australians wide right with them, but FITZGIBBON stuck to Plan A to claim the runner-up position; USA trailed them in third.

"We overtook Nick SCANDONE in the last race. He went too far right on the run home, so we gybed inside him to finish second," a thrilled FITZGIBBON said.

Tomorrow is a lay day. A further two races are planned for Thursday.

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