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Olympic Sailing World Championships

Barbara and Jon-Paul are both placing well so far but feeling the pressure.In the Mistral fleet, things were looking good for Greek champion Nikos KAKLAMANAKIS. In race three of the qualification stages, he scored a credible second place finish, and looked like he topped it with a victory in the second race of the day, but a pushy start saw Nikos disqualified for being On Course Side (OCS). That misdemeanour drops the former world champion and Olympic Gold medallist to 31 overall at the moment.

Flatter in general than yesterday’s epic Levante-fest, there were still some big gusts, dropping in at the top end of the course, making the top reach of the outer loop a flat out speed race.

18-20 knots, with those gusts at the top peaking at around 30 knots, were challenging conditions even for the best windsurfers in the world who are here in Cadiz. All three fleets were out on the same course with the two men’s qualifying groups sailing opposite inner and outer loop Olympic trapezoids and the single women’s fleet on the outer loop all day. Interesting leeward mark roundings were the order of the day.

In the first men’s race of the day, Przemyslaw MIARCZYNSKI (POL), better known to the fleet as “Pont” continued to show his dominance as a high wind sailor by winning his third race in a row by a comfortable margin over the rest of the fleet. He dropped to eighth in the second race of the day and is now tied for first place with Joao RODRIGUEZ (POR) 1995 Mistral World Champion, although leads overall on countback of first places.

Rodriguez has so far sailed a consistent series, having not dropped out of the top five at all in the four races held so far. Julien BONTEMPS, the best placed French windsurfer in Cadiz and current European Champion, had an uncharacteristic seventh place in the first race today, but came back hard with a third in the second group race of the day.

Jon-Paul TOBIN (NZL), is the top ranked Oceanic windsurfer and the highest placed non-European in the current results. He has remained fairly consistent in the bigger breeze experienced over the last couple of days, with a 2,6,2,7 scorecard. He is currently four points behind Bontemps.

The men now go into the final day of qualification races tomorrow, before the fleet is separated into Gold and Silver Fleet, with the 2003 World Champion being decided from the Gold fleet, after five more races. There is also a chance for 15 nations who have not yet done so, to qualify for an entry to the Olympic Regatta in Athens 2004.

The women, who due to the size of their fleet sail as one group in a straight series of up to 11 races, got a further two in today on the same course as the men. There seems to be a change of the perceived form in the fleet after the first two days of racing, some of the younger sailors, mixing it up with some of the most experienced and best in the world.

Barbara KENDALL (NZL) and Jessica CRISP (AUS), in second and third position respectively, are feeling the pressure from the younger guard, with recently crowned ISAF Youth Sailing World Champion, 17 year-old Zofia KLEPACKA (POL), currently in fourth place, only a single point behind Crisp in fourth place.

But it is recent convert from Freestyle and Funboard, 18 year old Lee KORSITZ (ISR), who is stealing the show from the rest of the World. With nothing worse than a sixth place finish, and with winning the first race of the class her at the ISAF World Championship, she is rapidly staking her claim as one of the best in the world and she is only going to get better.

New on the scene, she finished 27 in her first world championship in the class, in Pattaya, Thailand last year, and since then has climbed from 86 to 29 in the ISAF World Sailing Rankings, by scoring top ten finishes in Kiel, Hyeres and at the European Championship.

Reflecting on Lee’s performance after today’s racing, defending Olympic Gold Medallist, Alessandra SENSINI (ITA) commented: ”I knew she was good when I saw her performance in Athens. She will need watching.”

Alessandra took her best result yet in today’s opening race 3, with a second, before dropping down to take a twelth in the fourth. ”It was really strange today, not very easy, the conditions were tough,” before commenting ”However, I have no preference for any conditions, I like everything.”

Fresh from her victory at the Athens Regatta 2003, Alessandra commented, ”Athens was important for me. That regatta was very close to this, and so I knew I wouldn’t be in good shape for this event. I gave it my all in Athens, as it was a qualification regatta, and my performance determined selection for the Olympics. After that, and with such a close timeframe, I am not as prepared physically and mentally, as I would normally be.” With participation at the 2004 Olympic Regatta now guaranteed, the pressure is not on Alessandra for the Worlds, although of course she will be out for victory. Having represented Italy at every Olympic Regatta since the introduction of the windsurfing event for women at the 1992 Olympic Regatta, Barcelona what of the future. ”I think this [2004] may be my last Olympics. I might change class, I don’t know, we will see!” With so many thinks and mights, 2004 may not be the last we see of Alessandra in the women’s windsurfing event.

Racing carries on tomorrow for the ladies, with a lay-day on Thursday. Full results are available on the event website at the address below.

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