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Steyaert (FRA) wins her first Radial World Title

by Jodie Bakewell-White on 20 Mar 2008
Presentation to medalists, Womens Laser Radial World Championship - From left Xu Lijia (CHN), Sarah Stayaert (FRA), Andrea Brewster (GBR) Richard Gladwell www.photosport.co.nz

Sarah Steyaert of France has won the 2008 Women’s Laser Radial World Championship after a sensational finish to the regatta when Lijia Xu of China was disqualified from the final race ultimately costing her the world title. The six day regatta concluded off Takapuna, North Shore City, Auckland today.

Steyaert had an excellent day on the water, lying third at the start of the day she won race nine of the championship this morning and then placed 5th in the final race which was enough to secure her the title. It is Steyaert’s first ever world title and far and away her best World Championships result, her previous best being a 6th place in 2006.

Steyaert was aware of what she needed to do as things unfolded on the water in the final face. Presented with a large bunch of flowers on the podium after racing the French woman had a grin from ear to ear, delighted with the result.

'I saw her take the flag,' said Steyaert, 'and I knew that I had to finish in the top fourteen – I knew the points. And I did it, so I knew I had the World Championship.'

Disappointment for Lijia Xu, who has been outstanding throughout the regatta, came with a disqualification in the final race, a ruling on body movement that came from the on water judges. Despite losing her grasp on the title at the final hour Xu comfortably won the silver medal.

When asked about the disqualification after reaching the beach Xu admitted she was disappointed.

'It was very disappointing, but a lesson learnt,' explains Xu. 'I will do better in Qingdao.'

Andrea Brewster of Great Britain got up to claim the bronze medal after sitting 5th in the overall standings at the start of the day. The final two days of racing were Brewster’s best and were what sealed a podium spot for her.

'I’m really, really pleased. I don’t think it’s sunk in yet,' said Brewster at the conclusion of racing. 'I was fifth going into today, and I knew if I sailed like a sailed yesterday, then I had a shot at the podium, and I did, so it was great. I couldn’t have had a better day really.'

The final day spelt disappointment for Belgium’s Evi Van Acker who had a shot at the title at the outset of racing today, lying second overall. In her worst day yet Van Acker recorded a 47th and 20th slipping out of the medals and back to 9th overall.

Local girl, Jo Aleh was unable to improve her standing today and finished up 14th overall, after some highlights and some lowlights over the course of the event. She was the best of the New Zealanders competing, with Sara Winther coming in 17th.

Women’s Laser Radial World Championship 2008
FINAL Top twelve results


1st Sarah Steyaert FRA – 40 points
2nd Liji Xu CHN – 49 points
3rd Andrea Brewster GBR – 69 points
4th Gintare Volungeviciute LTU – 81 points
5th Sarah Blanck AUS – 81 points
6th Anna Tunnicliffe USA – 84 points
7th Penny Clark GBR – 84 points
8th Karin Soderstrom SWE – 86 points
9th Evi Van Acker BEL – 102 points
10th Shen Xiaoying CHN – 106 points
11th Katarzyna Szotzynska POL – 107 points
12th Tuula Tenkanen FIN – 110 points
13th Paige Railey USA – 118 points
14th Jo Aleh NZL – 118 points
15th Lizzie Vickers GBR – 121 points
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