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Flagstaff 2021AUG - Oceanis 40.1 - LEADERBOARD

International teams line up for Blind Match Racing

by Event Media on 1 Nov 2007
On board with the Australian team during training SW

The first heats of the 2007 International Match Racing Championships for Blind Sailors commence off Mondello, near Palermo in Sicily, tomorrow. The teams have now been confirmed and the pairing lists posted, with Luigi Bertanza and Elisabetta Bardella (ITA) the top ranked combination.

Bertanza was the fourth placed helmsman at these championships last year and third in 2005. Sheet-hand Bardella claimed fifth and second in the same years sailing with other helmsmen.

Alessandro Malapiero and Gianni Canzolle (ITA) are the second ranked team, Malapiero having placed second in 2005 as helmsman, sailing with Bardella, and second last year as sheet-hand.

The Israeli team of Eitam Israeli and 15 year old Oran Almog are third ranked. Despite being his first international event on the helm, Israeli took the bronze medal in 2006 and is a serious contender for the championship this year.

The Australians have a young new team in Mondello to defend the title won by Paul Borg and Kylie Forth last year. 21 year old Forth has now taken on the helming role and recruited Ryan Honschooten from Perth as her crew. They are ranked 6th on the table.

Three teams who have no competition history have been listed at the bottom of the list, but they will be interesting to watch. The Spanish combinations of Roser Hurtado and Frederico Giner, along with Manuel Gimeno and Mateo Ricard, trained with each other yesterday. Earlier, the New Zealander Paulien Eitjes, paired with Italian crew Fillipa Tolaro, showed they have the potential to do substantially better than their 10th ranking.

In practice today, it was the battle of the ANZACs, with New Zealand and Australia having two trial matches. Eitjes (NZL) won both, but the second only by a small margin after forcing a penalty on Forth (AUS).

'It was a good session on the water today', said Australian Coach Rachael Cox.

'This event is a steep learning curve for the new Australian team and they have only sailed together with the acoustic buoys for short sessions on the last two days. Their performance this afternoon showed they are better orienting themselves on the course and are developing their tactics', she said.

Hosted by Circolo Canottieri Rogero Di Lauria, the event uses the innovative Homerus system of acoustic buoys. Sailors competing in this event must be IBSA classified B1 or B2 – legally blind. The championships are sailed in identical 24 foot keelboats by a two person crew with a sighted observer on board. Three 'beeping buoys', each with a unique signal, set out the course and each boat has its own sound signal that changes when on port or starboard tack.

The first round robin commences tomorrow with racing continuing until Sunday November 4.

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