Brits dominate Lasers

News from the day's proceedings at the SPA Olympic Regatta

Thursday May 23rd 2002, Author: Sasha Oswald, Location: none selected
The rain finally cleared over Medemblik, Holland, for the second day of SPA Regatta, and revealed a pleasant day with variable breezes. The six different courses saw everything from 0-15 knots of wind speed, which made for tricky sailing conditions for the competitors.

A good day for the RYA Team GBR Laser sailors, which saw the Brits finish first, second and third, with Paul Goodison leading, Ed Wright in second and Peter Walker in third, in the first race of the day.

Ed Wright continued his good form in the shifty conditions, finishing second behind Goodison in the second race of the day, which turned into a race win as Goodison was penalised for being over the line early. Wright added a fourth place to his successful days score line, to see him move up into third place overall, and match five times World Champion Robert Scheidt of Brazil on best score of the day.

"I had a really good day today, I was trying to be a bit cautious on the starts as I did not want to be over the line, the conditions were tricky as we had everything from 0-15 knots and the standard of the fleet is very high as all of the top Laser sailors are here," commented Wright.

Goodison is currently seeking redress to try and get his position reinstated as he does not believe that he was fairly scored as OCS (on course side) as he was pushed over the line by a another sailor.

In the Star class, Team GBR sailor and Olympic Gold Medallist Iain Percy sailing with Steve Mitchell maintained his second position overall after day two. Percy scored a 27th place and then came back to win the second race of the day, to put him two points away from Mark Neeleman/Jos Schrier from Holland in first place. Fellow Olympian and team GBR sailor Ian Barker, sailing with Ed Peel, scored a fourteenth and an eleventh to put him in thirteenth place overall.

Out on the Women's Mistral course the sailors battled with inconsistent wind conditions. RYA team GBR sailor Natasha Sturges managed to cope well, scoring a second and a tenth place in the forty-three boat fleet to move up one position overall in second place. Team mate Bryony Shaw also had a good day, finishing fourth in the first race and then twelfth in the second to put her inside the top ten, in eighth place. In the men's Mistral fleet, Dom Tidey finished fourth and twenty-second to put him in seventh place overall.

Natasha Sturges commented on the day: "Today was a fairly frustrating day, I was leading the first race by a clear margin, but the breeze came in from behind and pushed the fleet up to me, I did well to finish second. I had a good day overall and am pleased that I have moved up into second place overall."

With a later start time than some of the other fleets, the Finn class enjoyed good racing in a steady breeze. Olympic Gold Medallist Ben Ainslie went all out in the first race of the day to take the 'bullet', which he then followed up with a third place, which has seen him move up onto a podium position, four points behind Emilios Papathanasiou who is currently in first place. Fellow Team GBR sailor Andrew Simpson scored a thirteenth place in the first race, then completed the day with his second race win of the regatta, maintaining his third place overall.

"Today was a better day for me, I am pleased to have won the last race of the day and to have moved up into the top three. I felt quick today, had the right sail up and sailed fairly smart," commented Ainslie.

The 49er course today was more a game of snakes and ladders, and places were easily won and lost in the shifty breeze. Despite this, Chris Draper and Simon Hiscocks kept level headed and sailed a good day, scoring an eighth and two fourth places to keep them in a podium position. There are currently four British teams in the top ten in this fifty-seven boat fleet. Alister Richardson and Peter Greenhalgh are currently lying seventh overall, Paul Brotherton/Mark Asquith are in eighth place and Stevie Morrison/Ben Rhodes are in tenth place.

"The second day of qualifying has been a mixed day for Team GBR. As well as great performances from Natasha Sturges, Paul Goodison, Ed Wright, Andrew Simpson, Ben Ainslie, Chris Draper and Iain Percy, who are all lying in the top three, I am pleased to see that Stevie Morrison is performing well in the 49er fleet. Despite breaking his rudder gantry yesterday, he has finished inside the top ten in all of the other races," commented RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park, who went on to say. "With another day of qualifying rounds tomorrow, with the possibility of another discard coming into play for some fleets and the forecast of strong winds over the next few days, there is a long way to go yet".

The larger fleets have one more day sailing in groups and then get split into Gold and Silver fleets for the remaining two day of the regatta. The winner of the Gold fleet on Sunday in each class will be the regatta winner.

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