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RS:X windsurfing - Medals to be decided at Pre-Olympics late today

Racing took place in 5-8 knots of breeze and temperatures in the high twenties in China yesterday at the Qingdao International Regatta. With some medal races set to take place today, and remaining classes for tomorrow, all of the New Zealand team has either confirmed or is likely to confirm a medal race place.

New Zealand will be represented in five medal races to be sailed today in Qingdao as the Pre-Olympics regatta draws towards its conclusion. The best placed kiwis to take a medal are Tom Ashley currently lying 2nd in the Men’s RS:X, and the Star crew of Hamish Pepper and Carl Williams who hold 3rd place.

With double-points up for grabs in the medal race, there is little room for error particularly when points on the leader board are close.

The Men’s RS:X fleet sailed two races yesterday, Tom Ashley having a hiccup in the first which marred his day on the water exacerbated when Zhou of China sailed well and advanced his leading margin. However, finally more wind is expected for racing today, and Ashley is positive about finishing strongly.

“In the first race of the day I led around the top mark, but fell on the downwind and lost a lot of ground - a bit of a shocking mistake to make at this level,” says Ashley. “I went around the bottom mark about twelfth and recovered to sixth. After the fall the race took a pretty big toll on me physically, as my equipment was wet and heavy and the boom was very slippery, which caused a bit of forearm cramp.”

“I managed to recover a bit before the second race, and sailed a decent race to finish fourth. I felt that I lacked a bit of my physical edge today, but that may just be due to the fall in the first race. Just one of those days!”

“My scores today mean that I have lost a bit of ground to the Chinese guy, and now lie in second, seven points behind first and ten points ahead of Julien Bontemps of France, who is sitting in third. With double points awarded in the medal race the event is still very much up for grabs, and I'm looking forward to having a good crack at Zhou.”

“The word is that we may have a bit more breeze for the medal race, which would definitely work to my advantage. However, I won't be getting too excited about the prospect of a windy race as Qingdao seems to have a way of not delivering on promises of breeze!”

Points are extremely tight amongst the leaders in the Star class which is set to sail their deciding medal race today. The kiwis, who sat at the top of the leader board at the start of yesterday’s racing placed 2nd and then 9th in the two races sailed. Meanwhile the French pair of Rohart and Rambeau had a 1st and a 2nd to climb up and take the lead.

Just two points separate 1st and 4th place with Pepper and Williams of New Zealand lying 3rd. The real battle for the medals is between France, Switzerland, New Zealand and Brazil, while Poland still has an outside chance.

The regatta website previews today’s Star medal race by saying, “Whoever finishes first out of FRA, SUI, NZL and BRA will finish ahead. POL can only win gold if FRA finish seventh or worse and SUI, NZL and BRA all finish sixth or worse. To win a medal POL has to put at least four boats between at least two of SUI, NZL and BRA.”

Dan Slater had his best day yet which saw him climb the ladder in the Finn fleet moving from 12th place overall up into 7th with two 3rd’s earning him a place in the top ten and the chance to sail the medal race today. Despite an uncharacteristic 6th and 5th in racing yesterday, Ben Ainslie from Great Britain has a solid leading margin eleven points clear of 2nd place.

Barbara Kendall also had her best day of the regatta yesterday placing 3rd and then 7th in the two races sailed. She goes into the medal race lying in 8th place overall. French sailor Faustine Merret is the leading woman board sailor, winning both of yesterday’s races.

Carl Evans and Peter Burling remain in 9th place in the Men’s 470 fleet and will sail the medal race today.

Both the Laser Radial and Laser fleets are scheduled to complete their series racing today with the top ten advancing to the medal race to be sailed tomorrow.

Jo Aleh slipped from the top spot to 2nd place in the Laser Radial fleet after yesterday’s racing. She was 8th, 4th and 6th in the three races sailed, while Anna Tunnicliffe of the USA continued to improve recording two bullets and a 2nd to take the lead.

Andrew Murdoch starts today’s racing in 5th place overall after a mixed day on the water yesterday.

Qingdao International Regatta 2007
New Zealand’s Current Standings
(Individual Race Results in brackets)

Tom Ashley – Men’s RS:X – 2nd (3, 2, 3, 2, (6), 4)
Barbara Kendall – Women’s RS:X – 8th (7, 6, 12, (13), 3, 7)
Hamish Pepper & Carl Williams – Star – 3rd (4, 6, 2, 1, 2, (9))
Dan Slater – Finn – 7th (7, 17, 19, (22), 3, 3, 3)
Andrew Murdoch – Laser – 5th (21, 7, 2, 4, 3, 21, (26), 4)
Jo Aleh – Laser Radial – 2nd ((9), 1, 3, 1, 7, 4, 8, 4, 6)
Carl Evans & Peter Burling – 9th (6, 9, (16), 3, 14, 11, 14, 10)

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