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Womens Olympic Mistral to start Saturday

Starts in the Harbour on Sunday 12 September 2000 SYDNEY The gold, silver and bronze medallists from Atlanta - Lai Shan LEE (HKG), Barbara KENDALL (NZL) and Alessandra SENSINI (ITA) - are again representing their NOCs in women's Mistral at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. KENDALL, the gold medal winner in the Women's Sailboards at Barcelona and a past Mistral world champion, won the 1998 and 1999 Pre-Olympic Regattas on Sydney Harbour, giving her an edge as favourite for her second Olympic gold medal. SENSINI is the current world champion while LEE has been steadily preparing herself for the Sydney Olympics, finishing second to Australia's Jessica CRISP at Kiel Week. Also in the medal running will be France's Lisa VIDAL.In the Mistral Oceanic Championship sailed on Sydney Harbour in late August, KENDALL won a hard-fought series by just one point from the veteran American Lanee BUTLER. Lai Shan LEE placed fourth, with Australia's Jessica CRISP sixth.CRISP will be competing in her first Olympics at the age of 30 (she celebrates her 31st birthday during the Olympics) but is a most talented boardsailor with her most recent success, apart from winning Kiel Week, being a win over KENDALL in the 1999 Sydney International Regatta.Women's Sailboarding was introduced as an Olympic sport, joining the men but as a separate event, at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. At the Atlanta Games, both the women and the men sailed the Mistral board, and will be the same in Sydney where both will race on the same course, but starting at separate intervals.The Mistral is 3.72m long, weights 15kg and has a sail area of 7.4m sq, making it a physically demanding and spectacular class racing on the Harbour, probably in the area south-east or south-west of Bradley's Head.A total of 29 women have qualified and been nominated by their NOCs for the Mistral women's sailboard class at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.As with the Mistral men's event, the competition will be over 11 races, from September 17 to 24, with two lay days.

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