Thrilling start to Laser Radial Women’s World Championship Final Series in Oman – Denmark at top but Netherlands in hot pursuit

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The opening races of the Final Series produced the windiest conditions seen so far at the Oman Sail-organised Laser Radial Women’s World Championship. After a tough opening three days on the water, and a day of relaxation enjoying cultural activities on Reserve Day yesterday, competitors were ready for action this morning for the first, final showdown.

Winds that reached in excess of 16kts made for exciting racing with the cream of the fleets embracing the conditions and producing some extremely impressive racing.

Although she didn’t actually win a race today Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN), representing Horsens Sejlklub in Jutland, took two good starts from the middle of the line, sailed consistently and was happy to finish the day with a 4, 5 score.

Rindom commented: “I was just trying to sail my own race, not do so many tacks just sail really, really fast because that is what it is all about when there is that much wind. Because of my leading position, also, I don’t want to risk anything so my strategy is to just stick with the fleet and sail my own race and do as best I can. I do not want to think about other people, especially Marit [Bouwmeester] and the other Danish girl because we have our Olympic trials here.”

Marit Bouwmeester (NED), reigning World Champion and silver medallist at London 2012 demonstrated her heavy weather skills today and concluded the day with a 1, 3, which lifts her into second place overall overnight.

A modest Bouwmeester commenting on the opening races of the Finals Series, said: “It was an okay day. I was naturally pleased with the first race of the day, but my focus switched to the second race where I messed up my start. Thankfully I worked really hard and made a good comeback, so I’m happy about that.”

Number 1-ranked Evi Van Acker (BEL) had a poor first race of the day but learned from her mistakes and rounded the day off with a first. In race 1 she found herself in the middle of the start line and confessed she was not happy at all with her sailing.

“My upwind performance in that race had plenty of room for improvement. Getting stuck in the middle of the line wasn’t a particularly smart decision either but I learned from it and did better in the second race, so I’m happy with that.”

In the second race of the day, it paid to go right off the start and that was exactly where Van Acker (30) positioned herself.

“I also had good speed in the windy conditions and built up a nice lead. Tomorrow will be all about making improvements in the opening moments of the race.”

Josefin Olsson (SWE) who won the ISAF Sailing World Cup Final in Abu Dhabi a few weeks ago, is also sailing consistently. With 5, 4 score line today, this 26-year-old from Kungliga Svenska Segel Sällskapet (KSSS) in Saltsjöbaden, Sweden, is now in fourth place.

With a 15th and 27th it was not such a good day for reigning Olympic champion, Lijia Xu (CHN) who now drops down the rankings to 7th with 54 points. However, this 28-year-old sailor from Shanghai, who is back on the race scene after her two-year break to recover from sailing-related injury, says this event is all about getting back into the grove.

In Silver fleet, Line Flem Høst (NOR) currently holds the lead from Isabella Bertold (CAN) with Susannah Pyatt (NZL) in third.

As the event reaches the penultimate day tomorrow, the competition is likely to intensify further, particularly with just four points between the top four boats. At the end of play tomorrow (after 10 races are complete) a second discard will also come into play.

Finals Races 3 and 4 will take place tomorrow (Wednesday) with a start time scheduled for 1200 local time (CET +3).

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