|FORTALEZA, BRAZIL-(23-9-2005) The opening parade of 137 sailors from 37 countries was both colourful and moving as all the sailors hoisted their national flag to the sound of the Brazilian National Anthem. Following this a sailor from each country poured a flask of water, symbolising their home water, into a collecting vase. This vase was then poured into the sea by the 3 olympic medallist from Athens, Robert Scheidt, Andreas Geritzer and Vasilij Zbogar to symbolise a joining of the waters of the world.|
The ceremony over, an otherwise perfect Day 1 was spoilt by the sad withdrawal of the young Australian, Tom Slingsby, because of stress injury to his leg. Coincidently Brazil's number one soccer team was in town, staying at the regatta hotel, and Tom was kindly attended by the club's doctor who broke the sad news to him. Slingsby was one of the new group of rising stars looking to take over from 7 time Laser World Champion, Robert Scheidt BRA.
Out on the race course a 10 to 14 knot oscillating south easterly wind, tested the world's best Laser sailors under bright blue skies. Split into two fleets of 68 it was important to get a good start and hit the first shift. In the first fleet a group bunched at committee expecting the right to be favoured as it had been in training but today the leaders came from the left hand, seaward side of the course. Amongst these was bronze medallist Vasilij Zbogar SLO who took a yellow flag penalty 200 metres after the start but recovered from last to round the first mark in 30th.
Diego Romero ARG said `I rounded the first mark with Luca Radelic CRO and Zbogar and we all made places on the downwind. Luca caught and passed Adonis Bourgiouris GRE and Aron Lolic CRO to take the winning gun`.
In the second fleet, sailing the inner loop of the trapezoid course, Roope Suomalainen FIN held the lead at the halfway stage. He said `I started at the pin and sailed for 200 metres and the got a shift to cross the fleet. It was a great feeling but I am not sure if I can do the same in stronger winds.` Suomalainen was passed by another member of the strong Croatian team, Mate Aropov on the next down wind leg and went to take the winning gun.
In the second race for the yellow fleet got away at the first attempt. Again the pin end boats came out on top which included, Andrew Murdoch NZL, Radelic, Zbogar, and Giles Scott GBR. Murdoch rounded first and stretched his lead throughout the race to finish 100 metres of Scott.
The Race Committee struggled to get the Blue fleet second race away as as the shifting wind favoured first the pin and then the committee boat. Eventually it was a clean start under a black flag with the Swiss, Christian Steiger port tacking the fleet. However left was the way to go. Jeremie Steyaert FRA said `I started in the middle of the line and played the shifts on the left. I had a good downwind and took the lead but I was watching Robert Scheidt BRA who had moved up to second. We both went right on the next windward leg and I am pleased I was able to stay ahead of him until the finish`.
Steyart is tied with Aropov at the top of the leader board but there is a long way to go in this 14 race series. Defending champion, Robert Scheidt, was one of a number of established names who had a mixed day. He said, `I had a bad start in the first race and made a few mistakes and my start in the second race was not much better but at got the shifts right`.
Overall results without discard:
1. Jermie Steyaert FRA 5pts
2. Mate Aropov CRO 5pts
3. Luka Radelic CRO 6pts
4. Giles Scott GBR 8pts
5. Vasilij Zbogar SLO 8pts
6. Alexander Scholonski GER 10pts
7. Tobias Schdewaldt GER 11pts
8. Diego Romero ARG 12pts
9. Benard Luttmer CAN 14pts
10 Gustavo Lima POR 14pts