Friday, 21 March 2008

Sarah Steyaert of France Wins Laser Radial Worlds

by Jodie Bakewell-White

Sarah Steyaert of France has won the 2008 Womens Laser Radial World Championship after a sensational finish to the regatta when Lijia Xu of China was disqualified from the final race, ultimately costing her the world title. The six day regatta concluded off Takapuna, North Shore City, Auckland on 20th March.

Steyaert had an excellent day on the water. Lying third at the start of the day she won race nine of the championship and then placed 5th in the final race which was enough to secure her the title. It is Steyaert's first ever world title, her previous best being a 6th place in 2006.

Steyaert was aware of what she needed to do as things unfolded on the water in the final face. Presented with a large bunch of flowers on the podium after racing the French woman had a grin from ear to ear, delighted with the result.

Steyaert said "I knew that I had to finish in the top fourteen - I knew the points. And I did it, so I knew I had the World Championship."

Disappointment for Lijia Xu, who has been outstanding throughout the regatta, came with a disqualification in the final race, a ruling on body movement that came from the on water judges. Despite losing her grasp on the title at the final hour Xu comfortably won the silver medal.

When asked about the disqualification after reaching the beach Xu admitted she was disappointed. "It was very disappointing, but a lesson learnt," said Xu. "I will do better in Qingdao."

Andrea Brewster of Great Britain got up to claim the bronze medal after sitting 5th in the overall standings at the start of the day. The final two days of racing were Brewster's best and were what sealed a podium spot for her.

"I'm really, really pleased. I don't think it's sunk in yet," said Brewster at the conclusion of racing. "I was fifth going into today, and I knew if I sailed like I sailed yesterday, then I had a shot at the podium, and I did, so it was great. I couldn't have had a better day really."

The final day spelt disappointment for Belgium's Evi Van Acker, who had a shot at the title at the outset of racing today, lying second overall. In her worst day yet Van Acker recorded a 47th and 20th, slipping out of the medals and back to 9th overall.

Local girl, Jo Aleh was unable to improve her standing today and finished up 14th overall, after some highlights and some lowlights over the course of the event. She was the best of the New Zealanders competing, with Sara Winther coming in 17th.

FINAL Top fifteen results

1st Sarah Steyaert FRA - 40 points
2nd Liji Xu CHN - 49 points
3rd Andrea Brewster GBR - 69 points
4th Gintare Volungeviciute LTU - 81 points
5th Sarah Blanck AUS - 81 points
6th Anna Tunnicliffe USA - 84 points
7th Penny Clark GBR - 84 points
8th Karin Soderstrom SWE - 86 points
9th Evi Van Acker BEL - 102 points
10th Shen Xiaoying CHN - 106 points
11th Katarzyna Szotzynska POL - 107 points
12th Tuula Tenkanen FIN - 110 points
13th Paige Railey USA - 118 points
14th Jo Aleh NZL - 118 points
15th Lizzie Vickers GBR - 121 points

NZ Results

GOLD Fleet
14th Jo Aleh NZL - 118 points
17th Sara Winther NZL - 125 points
53rd Miranda Powrie NZL - 244 points
55th Cushla Hume-Merry NZL - 249 points

13th Sarah Toothill NZL - 180 points
24th Jane Monk NZL - 222 points
47th Jessica Barrell NZL - 295 points
48th Briar Dye-Hutchinson NZL - 299 points
54th Aevril Hibbard NZL - 341 points
55th Amanda Hargreaves NZL - 348 points

Takapuna Worlds

Thursday, 20 March 2008

China and Belgium lead at Laser Radial Worlds

from Marc Hill, coach to Cushla Hume-Merry (pictured above)

Racing took place in 12-14 knots of wind, which reduced to 5-8 knots during the day on Wednesday, 19th March.

It was not a good day for Wellington youth sailor Cushla Hume-Merry. She finished at the back of gold fleet in all three races. However, a lot of good sailors were down today, including NZ Olympic rep. Jo Aleh. The consistent sailors at the front of the fleet may have placed substantial resources and effort into preparation for Olympic Games conditions, and this is showing.

Cushla Hume-Merry

A more general report of the day's racing... from Jodie Bakewell-White

Lijia Xu of China continues to lead the Women's Laser Radial World Championships, being sailed off Takapuna, New Zealand, going into the final day of the regatta tomorrow. Xu is four points clear of Evi Van Acker of Belgium in second with Sarah Steyaert holding on to third place a further nine points behind Van Acker.

After regular postponements over the initial four days, conditions on the Hauraki Gulf today were conducive to an on time 10am start to racing on what was the penultimate day of the 2008 Women's Laser Radial World Champs. Three races were sailed today with a total of eight races now on the board, and just one day of competition remains.

Racing now in gold and silver fleets, sailors today encountered a predominantly overcast sky and a north easterly breeze which ranged between 6 and 10 knots. Sailors had challenging chop to contend with which made things interesting.

"Race one we had 8-10 knots, less in the second race, like 6-8 knots, and then a little more again, but it was really hard with the waves," said Evi Van Acker after racing. "It was kind of like China, so that was good practice."

"You couldn't really see where the wind was coming from because the waves were so big. It was really difficult and everyone had mixed results, and I think that's why I'm still in second place."

Chinese sensation Lijia Xu, who had the overnight lead, won the first race of the day in the gold fleet. Eighth around the first mark Xu had to battle back to cross the line 12 seconds ahead of Charlotte Dobson GBR.

Race seven was Xu's worst in the regatta to date apart from her DSQ in race two; she finished 30th which effectively wiped her large leading margin putting Evi Van Acker of Belgium back within striking distance of the lead.

Van Acker managed to further diminish Xu's lead by finishing ahead of her in race eight, the last race of the day. Xu was 6th while Van Acker was 4th narrowing the gap to four points at the conclusion of the penultimate day.

"The first race went well for me, until I got a second yellow flag, so I had to pull out of the race" explains Van Acker. "I don't like unfair sailing, and I don't think that I was doing anything wrong."

"In the last race I had a good start, I went to the right," she continued. "We had more current against us on the right, but I managed to get 4th to the top mark, and I finished 4th so that was good."

"So it's all down to tomorrow. I feel good. I can't afford anything, I have my discard, so I need to do two good races - and I will do."

Sarah Steyaert of France retains third place overall despite a mixed day on the water. She recorded a 24th, a 20th and a 3rd today and now has a points total of 58, nine points back from Van Acker. Behind her, Penny Clark GBR is her closed rival who would need to close an eleven point gap to Steyaert to make it onto the podium.

It was a disappointing day for local favourite Jo Aleh who slipped from 5th overall at the start of today out of the top ten and back to 14th overall.

Olympic Qualification

With just six Olympic berths still available and 23 nations here in Auckland who have not yet qualified the battle for national Olympic qualification is on.

The pecking order after today of those in the hunt for Olympic qualification is as follows... Greece, Spain, Russia, Ireland, Croatia and Czechoslovakia with Paraguay further down the list.

Takapuna Worlds

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Wellingtonian is leading Kiwi Youth Sailor at Radial Worlds

from Cushla Hume-Merry (pictured above)

It was another hard day on the water for the Laser radials at the Takapuna Worlds, on Tuesday, 18th March, with light and variable winds boxing the compass from SW to NE and then NW. The fleet was trapped in the convergence zone but two races were completed with changing fortunes.

Race 4
I went left in Race 4, towards the shore, expecting to pick up the land shift which never eventuated leaving the other part of the fleet to sail over us. I finished 53rd and learnt some useful lessons but am reassured that my boat speed is OK in the light. Jo Aleh (NZ Olympic rep. 2008) finished 43rd.

Race 5
The first attempt at this race was abandoned at the third mark due to shifting wind, which was disappointing as I was 11th at the time. The Yellow fleet managed to complete their race whilst Blue fleet was sent ashore. We were called out on to the water later, but it was still very light and shifty. Better tactics saw me finish 15th, just 33 seconds after the leader, in really close racing.

I am the leading Kiwi youth sailor in the Blue Fleet, and have made the cut into the Gold Fleet for the final races. Spanish sailor Susanna Romero Steensma is currently the top youth sailor, lying in 21st place, and I am the fifth youth sailor in the fleet.

Cushla Hume-Merry

A more general report on races 4 and 5... from Jodie Bakewell-White

Lijia Xu (CHN) has hit the lead at the Women's 2008 Laser Radial World Championship and is three points ahead of Sarah Steyaert (FRA) who now lies second. Evi Van Acker (BEL) is just one point back in third overall.

It was a mixed day for most on the water today with some serious shuffling on the leader board as the day unfolded. Five races have now been completed with two days of the regatta remaining.

Light winds continued to frustrate race management and made for an eventful day on the water for the Women's Laser Radial fleet at the 2008 World Championships in Takapuna, North Shore City, New Zealand. The intention to start early today was thwarted by lack of breeze due to the large high sitting over New Zealand's upper North Island.

Race four did get underway at around 11am with the yellow fleet up first, sailing in a south westerly wind of 6-8 knots, followed by the blue fleet. The breeze eased and shifted and sailors had an on water delay of around an hour before race five got started, again the yellow fleet went first, sailing in 5-7 knots of wind which had shifted through to the south east.

Blue fleet were well into race five, with Jo Aleh (NZL) out to a four minute lead, just around the final mark and heading for the finish line when the race was abandoned with the dying breeze stalling the sailors towards the back of the fleet. Both fleets were back ashore by 4pm and while yellow fleet packed up for the day, blue were put on standby in the hope that race five could be re-raced and added to the leader board for all.

A light wind filled in an hour later from the north east and the blue fleet headed back out onto the course, finally getting a start away just before 6pm. Jo Aleh came out firing after the earlier disappointment and put a second on the scoreboard finishing behind Susanna Romero Steensma of Spain.

Lijia Xu (CHN) was also on hot form winning race four and then placing third in race five taking the overall lead now that she is able to discard her disqualification from Race 2. Two wins and two thirds give her 8 points in total as the regatta heads into the finals.

Sarah Steyaert (FRA) dropped back to second overall with a 2nd and then a 36th in racing today while Evi Van Acker (BEL) is still looking strong just one point behind. Van Acker was 2nd and 14th in today's races.

Paige Railey (USA) and Jo Aleh (NZL) share 4th place overall both on 20 points. Railey was consistent today with a 7th and an 8th while Aleh's day was mixed with a 43rd followed by a 2nd.

Romero Steensma was the stand-out performer of the day languishing back in 60th overall at the start of the day the Spaniard clearly mastered the tricky light winds coming home with two bullets today. She improved her standing by 39 places to now lie 21st overall.

Racing continues tomorrow with the fleet now splitting into gold and silver for finals with a start scheduled for 10am.

Olympic Qualification

With just six Olympic berths still available and 23 nations here in Auckland who have not yet qualified the battle for national Olympic qualification is on.

Currently Russia, Paraguay, Greece, Spain, Croatia and Ireland are the top six of the nations not yet Olympic qualified with Czechoslovakia remaining in touch.

PROVISIONAL Top twelve overall standings after five races

1st Lijia Xu CHN - 8 points (3, (DSQ), 1, 1, 3)
2nd Sarah Steyaert FRA - 11 points (6, 1, 2, 2, (36))
3rd Evi Van Acker BEL - 12 points (1, 2, 7, 2, (14))
4th Paige Railey USA - 20 points (3, 2, (DNF), 7, 8)
5th Jo Aleh NZL - 20 points (7, 7, 5, (43), 2)
6th Sarah Blanck AUS - 24 points (1, 4, 8, (42), 11)
7th Nathalie Brugger SUI - 31 points (7, 5, 14, (50), 5)
8th Katarzyna Szotzynska POL - 32 points (10, 6, 13, 4, (20))
9th Marit Bouwmeester NED - 40 points (4, 8, 16, (22), 13)
10th Karin Soderstrom SWE - 45 points (24, 10, 2, 9, (38))
11th Lizzie Vickers GBR - 45 points (8, 6, 15, 16, (31))
12th Sophie de Turkheim FRA - 46 points (4, (OCS), 9, 5, 28)

NZ placings
GOLD Fleet

5th Jo Aleh NZL - 20 points (7, 7, 5, (43), 2)
19th Sara Winther NZL - 53 points ((26), 19, 20, 6, 8)
53rd Cushla Hume-Merry NZL - 92 points (8, 32, 37, (53), 15)
56th Miranda Powrie NZL - 93 points (12, 27, 24, (40), 30)


3rd Sarah Tootill NZL - 101 points (45, 40, 10, (46), 6)
38th Briar Dye-Hutchinson NZL - 155 points (35, (OCS), 36, 45, 39)
43rd Jane Monk NZL - 159 points (45, 36, 36, 42, (53))
49th Jessica Barrell NZL - 176 points (46, 47, 45, 38, (56))
53rd Amanda Hargreaves NZL - 186 points (32, 45, 54, (58), 55)
55th Aevril Hibbard NZL - 197 points (48, 46, 44, (51), DNC)

Takapuna Worlds

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Womens Radial Worlds - Second Day of Racing

by Marc Hill and Cushla Hume-Merry

Light winds made a procession towards the end of the only race of the day at Takapuna. Many good sailors were down the results list, but also many good sailors pulled up, as those who had trained in light airs came to the forefront.

Cushla Hume-Merry, aged 17 from Wellington, who has her sights set on the 2012 Olympics in Weymouth, England, was in the third NZ spot after day one, with an eighth place in the first race, but slipped to fourth after a 38th place today.

The sailors face the prospect of three races tomorrow, to get back on schedule.

Cushla Hume-Merry

A more general report on the day's racing... by Jodie Bakewell-White

Sarah Steyaert of France has taken the overall lead at the 2008 Women’s Laser Radial World Championship being sailed off Takapuna Beach, North Shore City, Auckland. Just one race was sailed today with three races in total now on the board.

A postponement due to lack of wind delayed the scheduled start of racing off Takapuna Beach for the 116 boat Women’s Laser Radial fleet competing for the world title. However a light north easterly sea breeze gradually filled in and the fleet left the beach at around 1o’clock for a 2 o’clock start to racing.

The day belonged, however, to Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) and Lijia Xu (CHN) who both brought home a race win with a solid leading margin in their respective fleets in today’s race. Despite this neither Tunnicliffe or Xu are featured in the top ten as the American is carrying an OCS and lies 36th overall while Xu has a DSQ on her scorecard and lies 30th at this stage in the regatta. Both will likely rocket up the leader board once the first discard comes into play.

Steyaert leapt into the lead today, placing 2nd in today’s race after starting the day lying 5th overall. She has a total of nine points which means her leading margin is slight with Evi Van Acker (BEL) hot on her heals just one point adrift on ten points. Van Acker, who had a share of the lead overnight, was 7th on the water today.

Australian Sarah Blanck retains third overall after race three with an 8th placing in today’s race and is three points back from Van Acker.

Local girl and current ISAF # 1, Jo Aleh was a big mover in the standings today shooting from 11th overall up to 4th place on the leader board. Fighting her way back from 10th at the first mark Aleh managed to cross the line in 5th which gives her a points total of 18 putting her eight points clear of Nathalie Brugger (SUI) who has 5th place in the current standings.

Sari Multala of Finland will be disappointed after a poor race today saw her drop out of the lead and back to 12th place overall. A 37th in race three was the cause of her slide down the standings, and this race will likely become her discard once in play.

The intention for tomorrow, Tuesday 19th March is for an early start to racing in order to try and catch up for lost races on Saturday and today. Organisers hope to start racing at 10am in order to squeeze in three races.

Provisional Results after 3 races - top 12 places

1st Sarah Steyaert (FRA) 9.0 (6, 1, 2)
2nd Evi Van Acker (BEL) 10.0 (1, 2, 7)
3rd Sarah Blanck (AUS) 13.0 (1, 4, 8)
4th Jo Aleh (NZL) 18.0 (7, 6, 5)
5th Nathalie Brugger (SUI) 26.0 (7, 5, 14)
6th Marit Bouwmeester (NED) 27.0 (4, 7, 16)
7th Katrzyna Szotynska (POL) 28.0 (10, 5, 13)
8th Lizzie Vickers (GBR) 29.0 (8, 6, 15)
9th Penny Clark (GBR) 35.0 (10, 7, 18)
10th Karin Soderstrom Karin (SWE) 36.0 (24, 10, 2)
11th Eftychia Mantzaraki (GRE) 36.0 (11, 8, 17)
12th Sari Multala (FIN) 40.0 (2, 1, 37)

Other NZ placings
31st Miranda Powrie (NZL) 63.0 (12, 27, 24)
35th Sara Winther (NZL) 65.0 (26, 19, 20)
48th Cushla Hume-Merry (NZL) 78.0 (8, 32, 38)
65th Sarah Toothill (NZL) 95.0 (45, 40, 10)
85th Jane Monk (NZL) 117.0 (45, 36, 36)
95th Briar Dye-Hutchinson (NZL) 130.0 (35, OCS, 36)
96th Amanda Hargreaves (NZL) 131.0 (32, 45, 54)
104th Aevril Hibbard (NZL) 138.0 (48, 46, 44)
105th Jessica Barrell (NZL) 138.0 (46, 47, 45)

Takapuna Worlds

Monday, 17 March 2008

Womens Laser Radial World Champs get under way in Takapuna

by Jodie Bakewell-White

Sari Multala (FIN) and Evi Van Acker (BEL) have the early lead with a win and a second place apiece at the 2008 Women’s Laser Radial World Championships which got under way today, 16th March, on Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf.

It was a warm sunny day on Auckland’s North Shore and a 20 knot south westerly breeze greeted sailors for race one of the regatta, which kicked off on time at 11am this morning. Winds eased slightly for race two and the fleet enjoyed excellent sailing conditions all day.

Van Acker enjoyed being back on the water for some top level competition, after being down with a virus. The Belgian demonstrated today that she’s back in top form with a stunning start to the regatta. Despite traditionally being more of a light air specialist Van Acker’s recent training paid off and she won the first race in the blue fleet.

“I think it’s the first time I’ve won a race in strong winds,” she said after racing today. “I’m usually more of a light wind sailor. But last month I’ve been training, and I’ve been getting better, and today was just great. I was so fired up because it’s been so long since I’ve done a real regatta.

“The first race I had a good start, good speed and I was far out in front from the start with an easy lead.

“In the second race I had a bad start. In the beginning it didn’t work out for me, I was on the wrong tack. But anyway I tried to climb up, I was, I think 7th or 8th at the top mark. I made too many mistakes on the downwind; I think I could have won the race,” continued Van Acker.

“But woah, great day, great result – I was crying after the first race. I’m really happy.”

Sari Multala of Finland had an equally good start to the regatta placing 2nd in race one in the yellow fleet and then following that up with a win in race two.

Both Sarah Blanck of Australia and Paige Railey of the USA also started strongly and share third place, both just two points adrift of the leaders. Blanck had a win and a 4th in racing today while Railey was 3rd and 2nd giving them both five points in total and ensuring that they are well placed in this world class fleet going into the second day of the five day series.

Behind them is France's Sarah Stayaert. With a 6th and a win on the water today she has 7 points in total and lies 5th overall on the leaderboard.

Jo Aleh is the best placed of the New Zealand contingent and sits in 11th place overall with two 7th places on the water today. The light air specialist suffered with a capsize but still managed a respectable result and is on equal points with Lizzie Vickers (GBR) in 10th.

Top twelve overall standings after two races

1st Sari Multala (FIN) 3 points (2, 1)
2nd Evi Van Acker (BEL) 3 points (1, 2)
3rd Sarah Blanck (AUS) 5 points (1, 4)
4th Paige Railey (USA) 5 points (3, 2)
5th Sarah Stayaert (FRA) 7 points (6, 1)
6th Charlotte Dobson (GBR) 8 points (5, 3)
7th Lijia Xu (CHN) 8 points (3, 5)
8th Marit Bouwmeester (NED) 12 points (4, 8)
9th Nathalie Brugger (SUI) 12 points (7, 5)
10th Lizzie Vickers (GBR) 14 points (8, 6)
11th Jo Aleh (NZL) 14 points (7, 7)
12th Katarzyna Szotzynska (POL) 16 points (10, 6)

Other NZ sailors
34th Miranda Powrie (NZL) 40 points (12, 28)
37th Cushla Hume-Merry (NZL) 41 points (8, 33)
46th Sara Winther (NZL) 45 points (26, 19)
79th Amanda Hargreaves (NZL) 77 points (32, 45)
84th Jane Monk (NZL) 83 points (46, 37)
86th Sarah Toothill (NZL) 85 points (45, 40)
95th Jessica Barrell (NZL) 93 points (46, 47)
96th Briar Dye-Hutchinson (NZL) 94 points (35, OCS)
101st Aevril Hibbard (NZL) 96 points (49, 47)

Takapuna Worlds