|KIEL, GERMANY-(23-6-2006) Winds may have reduced from twelve down to six knots for the Olympic classes sailing at Kiel Week on Friday, but the British Tornado team of Leigh McMillan and Will Howden swept in to take second place on the leaderboard.
The Skandia Team GBR world silver medallists notched up three top five finishes from their three races of the day to put themselves in the silver medal position, with two days' racing at the Baltic Sea venue still to run.
The Tornado fleet's race starts were littered with black flags as boats on the Bravo course were eager to gain an early advantage in the lighter conditions.† Fellow Brits Rob Wilson and Mark Bulkeley were punished in two of the three races of the day, but McMillan and Howden were unscathed and went on to post a 3,2,5 to push them into second, 19 points behind the leaders and twelve points ahead of the third placed Spaniards Echavarri and Paz.
The boys have put their recent improvement down, in part, to their recent hectic schedule sailing the Volvo Extreme 40 circuit at Portsmouth and Rotterdam.
'We went to Holland, which was our first regatta back after I'd injured my knee and we just really weren't sharp - you could see that on the race course,' Howden explained.† 'It was difficult conditions so you had to be 100 percent on top of your game and we just weren't there.
'The last two weeks sailing the VX40 full time has really sharpened up our racing skills, which is why I think weren't looking pretty flash here.'
But although happy with their Kiel performance so far, Howden knows there's no time to sit back with some fierce competition in the fleet this week.
'Certainly at this event the Aussies have really shone through,' he said of the Australian series leaders and training partners Darren Bundock and Glenn Ashby.† 'It's a funding event for them so they're fully, fully fired up for it.
'And unfortunately for us, the 12 point gap behind us is only 12 points, and tomorrow after nine races the second discard kicks in so there's really still all to play for.'
In the Laser class, Paul Goodison is edging closer in defence of his 2005 Kiel Week title.† The European Champion from Rotherham is now up to fourth place - four points off the series leader - thanks to two bullets and a second from Friday's racing, while development squad sailor Nick Thompson is still on the brink of the top ten, currently in twelfth overall.
Scot Charlotte Dobson broke through into the top ten in the Laser Radial class on Friday - a bullet rounded off her three races of the day and pushed her up to eighth place.
Helena Lucas saw a 6,4,2 in the 2.4mR Paralympic class today - the Southampton sailor is now in fifth place - three points off the bronze medal position and five points away from silver - while teammate Megan Pascoe had a good day on the water, posting a 7,4 before finishing with a bullet in the third race of the day.
Brits currently occupy the seventh positions in both the Finn and 49er tables - Portsmouth's Matt Howard put in a 3,17 on the Finn course, while transitional squad sailors Dave Evans and Rick Peacock clinched their first gold bullet at a senior regatta in the 49er skiff class.
Olympic classes racing in Kiel continues through until Sunday 25 June.