by Craig Heydon
At the Open European Championships 2011 in Helsinki, Finland, racing is underway for the Laser and Laser Radial fleets.
Australian Laser sailors Jared West, Ryan Palk and Tom Burton in Finland - Photo Michael Blackburn
Krystal Weir is the leading Australian after day one.
Weir ended the day eighth overall in the 104 boat Laser Radial fleet with a seventh and a sixth in the opening two races.
'It was very tricky light wind sailing today with both races taking place in under five knots of breeze,' said Weir. 'It was a tough day of racing today, the two fleets managed to converge on each other on the last lap on the way to the finish which made it very difficult to assess where you were in the fleet.
'Overall I’m happy with how I am going in the light winds and looking forward to building on it tomorrow,' she said.
Fellow Australian Alex South sits in 44th after an opening day 20th and 24th place finish.
'Day one wasn't a great day for me today, but I’m just getting back to international competition and haven’t been in this position since the 2009 Worlds,' said South. 'It's a whole different level that you can only appreciate when you are thrown into racing.
'Hopefully tomorrow I can build on today’s performances and not spend my day playing catch up,' she said. 'It’s time to consolidate now that I'm settled back into big fleet racing and hopefully work hard and get into the top 20.'
In the Laser fleet the four Australian entrants had a tough day in the light conditions with Ryan Palk the highest placed in 34th overall.
The Queenslander finished day one with a 13th and a 15th with Australian Sailing Team member Tom Burton the next best placed Australian in 59th.
Burton opened his regatta with a 36th but had a much better race two to cross the line sixth overall.
Jared West is in 96th following a 27th and a 34th while Ashley Brunning is 99th after finishing 30th and 32nd.
Racing continues for the Laser and Laser Radial fleets on Monday with the final medal races being held on Friday 8 July.
For more information on the Australian Sailing Team visit www.australiansailingteam.com.au and follow the team on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AusSailingTeam.
Full results here