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Sail Melbourne – RS-X Oceanic Championships

by Ailsa Angus on 12 Jan 2006
Alison Shreeve hits the high notes at Sail Melbourne on the RSD:X Leighton O'Connor
First start on the fourth day of racing in the RS:X Oceanic champs, the Women's fleet started in six to eight knots, sub planing, pumping conditions. Sailors electing to start on port tack were caught out early, by the rest of the fleet using the pin end of the line. Duan Mingli (CHN6) shot to the front early rounding the top mark in first. Lead changes taking place throughout the race found the 49er fleet sailing their first lap just as the women's fleet was rounding the top mark for the second time. Near collisions between four 49ers and both Chen Quibin (CHN9) and Yin Jian (CHN8) produced words of many languages between the offenders.

As soon as the carnage had sorted itself out, Yasuko Kosuge (JPN9) trying to reach the top mark was sandwiched between two further 49ers, resulting in loss of wind and losing a few places to fellow competitors as she had to tack to the mark. Duan Mingli (CHN6) having to sail to the finish mixing with the 49er fleet managed to keep clear to take first place followed by Australian favourite Allison Shreeve and following country women Chen Qiubin (CHN9) taking third place.

The first start of the men's fleet resulted in a General Recall with the majority of the fleet over the line at the starting signal. Once all the competitors had returned and with the Regatta coming to a close at the end of this week the second start was clean with the fleet heading to the top mark, closely followed by the 49er fleet who were starting 5 minutes later and using the same course. Zhou Yuanguohou (CHN1) led around the mark first closely followed by Joeri Van Dijk (NED1). Joeri's team mate and current leader of the Championships had a bad start and without clean air rounded the mark in the middle of the fleet. The second top mark rounding saw Joeri (NED1) take the lead with New Zealander JP Tobin in second and Zhou Yuanguo in third. On the downwind leg the sailors kept their places throughout the leg to the finish.

During the rest period between races, Neil Pryde designer Robert Stroj was able to give competitors advice on how to fix their equipment on the water. With the wind picking up slightly the Women were again off cleanly with Hong Kong sailor Wai Man Chan (HKG26) wining the start at the pin end. Allison Shreeve (AUS911) favouring the stronger breeze rounded the top mark on the second leg in second place but was unable to catch Wai Man Chan (HKG26) who led from start to finish. In the Youth division, Kwok Po Ma (HKG16) continued his dominance to take his 7th first place in a row.

The men's fleet started with only an individual recall with Italian Olympic windsurfer, Riccardo Giordano (ITA12) spotted by the Race Committee as the culprit. The Hong Kong team continued their success of the day with King Yin Chan (HKG12) rounding the top mark first and fellow countryman Wing Ho Yu narrowly missing second place by Motokazu Kenjo (JPN26), New Zealander JP Tobin (NZL151) closely following in fourth place. The race proved to be the closest race in the men's fleet to date with the top 5 positions changing constantly. Casper Bouman (NED2) managed to sail through the fleet to take third place to JP Tobin and King Yin Chan. Joeri Van Dijk took fourth place to remain third place overall.

Tomorrow's racing will be the last day of sailing for the entire fleet as the Sail Melbourne organisers are adopting the new Olympic format with only the top 10 places going forward to race the final day on Saturday.
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