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Mens Olympic Mistral to start Saturday

Set for Sunday start12 September 2000 SYDNEY Southern Hemisphere athletes have had an outstanding record in international sailboarding since its inception, with New Zealand's Aaron McINTOSH and Australia's Lars KLEPPICH both winning World Championships in Mistrals since the Atlanta Games. KLEPPICH is currently ranked No. 1 in the ISAF O'Neill World Sailing Rankings issued 31 August.The Australian won the bronze medal in the men's sailboard at Barcelona, missed out on going to Atlanta, but sailed brilliantly late last year to win the Mistral Worlds and the gold medal at the Pre-Olympic Test Regatta on Sydney Harbour.McINTOSH was in top form in beating Kleppich in the Mistral Oceanic Championships sailed on Sydney Harbour in late August.The 2000 world champion is Greece's Nikolaos KAKLAMANAKIS, the Atlanta gold medallist, and he, along with KLEPPICH and McINTOSH, must rank as medal favourites in what could be an highly competitive series on Sydney Harbour. Also in the running should be Israel's Amit INBAR, France's Alexandre GUYADER and Fiji's Tony PHILP.Sailboarding became an official Olympic event at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, with the Windglider being used that year and again at the 1998 Seoul Olympics. For Barcelona in 1992, the Lechner sailboard was used, with women joining the ranks as Olympic sailors that year, sailing in separate events. The Mistral was introduced at Atlanta in 1996. The Mistral is 3.72m long, weighs 15kg and has a sail area of 7.4m sq, making it a physically demanding and spectacular class.In Sydney men and women again will race in separate divisions, but on the same course area, probably in the area to south-east of Bradley's Head, within excellent viewing area from the Harbour Headlands.The Mistral Men's will be over 11 races, from September 17 to 24, with two lay days. A total of 36 NOCs have nominated competitors for the event.

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