Scheidt out to keep title

Mon, Aug 6, 2001, 01:00

Reigning champion Robert Scheidt made further gains at the Laser Worlds at Crosshaven yesterday when he added his third win to the scoreboard. A 12th place in the second race of the day was discarded and now the Brazilian holds a six-point overall lead as the event reaches its halfway stage this afternoon.

After a frustrating start to the series for both competitors and organisers alike, the weather settled to a steady, moderate southerly yesterday and the race programme was completed for the day; Saturday saw the 160 sailors endure a marathon 12-hour session afloat waiting for wind.

Meanwhile, as Scheidt appears to be on course for his fifth world title, adding to an Olympic gold medal in 1996 and a silver in Sydney, pressure could yet build from Sweden's Karl Suneson who is attending his first regatta since the Sydney Games. A second and a sixth yesterday points to steady form and a real threat over the next three days.

Suneson isn't alone at the front of the fleet. No fewer than four Swedes are in the top 10 that is spread across a 25-point divide.

Further down the ranks, priority focuses on a different target for after this afternoon's second race will decide the Gold fleet split. With an entry of 164 boats, an overall position of 82nd or better will be the magic figure.

Leading Ireland's hopes for qualification is Rory Fitzpatrick of the Royal Irish YC, who slipped to 68th overall having started the event with a 15th in his flight. A 68th in yesterday's second race is his worst of the series so a return to form will serve him well.

Others from the host nation are less likely to make the cut, though Russell McGovern and Gavan Jones could improve from 97th and 105th given two solid results each.

Yesterday also saw a second competitor dismissed from the entire championship due to Rule 42 breaches. This covers illegal propulsion such as rocking the hull or pumping the sails. On-the-water jurors monitor the fleet and single out offenders with a yellow flag. A single offence results in a warning; the second occasion results in disqualification from that race while the third sees the competitor thrown out of the event.

Mirror Worlds Ireland proved a dominant force in the opening day of the 136-boat Datalex Mirror World Championship at Howth Yacht Club, counting six boats in the top 10.

Lough Derg Yacht Club's Peter Bayly and William Atkinson scored second and first places yesterday, including an impressive lead in the latter race.

Team coach David McHugh rated the opening races as "a good day for the Irish as it helps establish confidence for the event."

Baly and Atkinson are among a squad that have been training at the championship venue for the past number of weeks that paid off with victory in the East Coast Championship two weeks ago.

Nick Meadow and Sam Trott from Carrickfergus Sailing Club are in close contact in second place by just two points. This duo scored fourth in the European Championships and were second in the Irish championship.

A substantial gap then opens to third place, held by Britain's Robert Grieg-Gran and Jonathon Telford. National title holders Chris and Catherine Forrestal from the Royal Cork YC are in fifth place.

There was surprise too when reigning European champion David Gebhard scored an eighth and a 32nd to end the opening day in 12th overall.