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Hyeres: Tom Ashley has a leading margin, 4 Kiwis in 4th place or better

Four kiwi sailors have qualified in the top ten and will sail the final double-points medal race to decide the podium places at ISAF Grade 1 Semaine Olympique Francaise regatta in Hyeres, France .

All four are Yachting New Zealand Olympic Squad sailors, and they all go into tonight’s medal race lying fourth or better on the leader board. The long awaited easterly breeze finally arrived for the penultimate day of racing allowing each of the leading kiwis to either consolidate or improve their standings.

Tom Ashley has a leading margin that will make it difficult for his closest rival to snatch the gold from him in the men’s windsurfing.

“Well, today was the wind we've been waiting for!” says Ashley. “We did three races in planing conditions to finish the gold fleet series and decide the top ten positions going into tomorrow's medal race.”

“I had a pretty good day and did everything I wanted to do. My placings were 1, 28 and 2 which was more than enough to give me a very good lead going into tomorrow,” explains Ashley. “I have a lead of 18 points over Shahar Zubari from Israel, and hence need to finish 9th or better out of ten in the medal race (if he wins the race) to assure victory tomorrow.”

Points are closer in the Laser Radial fleet with Jo Aleh holding third place overall going into the medal race. The kiwi sailor is just five points behind Samdal of Norway who holds the lead, but has Lijia of China on her tail just two points adrift. For Aleh, a strong medal race is crucial for a podium spot.

“Tomorrow is the medal race, and I am currently sitting in 3rd overall, five points behind 1st, and four points behind 2nd, but with a lot of girls only a few points behind… so should be an exciting race,” says Aleh.

Dan Slater climbed up the leader board in the Finn class after last night’s racing and now lies third overall. Slater enjoyed the stronger breeze and placed 13th and 2nd in the two races sailed.

“Finally some wind! Today’s racing had big waves, shifty breeze and 15- 22 knots which was really nice for a change,” says Slater.
The fourth kiwi to contest the medal race tonight in France is Andrew Murdoch in the Laser class. Murdoch is in fourth place on equal points with the Croatian sailor in third. The points are tight between 3rd and 7th place, so it will be another battle in the all important medal race.

Elsewhere in the kiwi team Sara Winther of Takapuna Boating Club has continued to improve her standing in the Laser Radial after a poor start to the regatta. With the second drop coming into play and a strong performance over the second half of the series, Winther has climbed to 12th overall.

Similar conditions are forecast for the medal races which will be sailed consecutively on a course set close to the shoreline for spectators to view the final results unfold.

39th Semaine Olympique Francaise New Zealand’s placings after Day Five
Laser Radial
3rd - Jo Aleh (Takapuna Boating Club)
12th – Sara Winther (Takapuna Boating Club)
44th – Cushla Hume-Merry (Evans Bay Y&MB Club)
55th - Miranda Powrie (Kohimarama Yacht Club)
4th – Andrew Murdoch (Kerikeri Cruising Club)
23rd – Blair McLay (Torbay Sailing Club)
27th – Michael Bullot (Murrays Bay Sailing Club)
73rd – Aaron Hume-Merry (Murrays Bay Sailing Club)
97th – David Weaver (Titahi Bay Boating Club)
125th – Blair Lindsay (Murrays Bay Sailing Club)
3rd – Dan Slater (Murrays Bay Sailing Club)
Men’s RS:X
1st – Tom Ashley (Takapuna Boating Club)
82nd – Michael Lichtwark (Takapuna Boating Club)
95th - Antonio Cozzolino – (NZ RS:X Association)
Women’s RS:X
26th – Kate Ellingham (Wakatere Boating Club/Takapuna Boating Club)
43rd - Hayley Thom (Takapuna Boating Club)
56th – Steffanie Williams (Takapuna Boating Club)
Women’s 470
38th – Shelley Hesson & Bianca Barbarich-Bacher (Murrays Bay Sailing Club)
Mens’ 470
24th - Geoff Woolley & Mark Overington (Kohimarama Yacht Club)
32nd – Andrew Brown & Nick Taylor (Royal Akarana Yacht Club)
61st – Stephen Keen & Philip Keen (Naval Point Club Lyttelton)
20th – Sharon Ferris, Raynor Smeal & Shandy Buckley (Bay of Islands)
27th - Bruce Kendall & Brett Sellers

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