Storming victory for Laser ace Xu at Sail For Gold

Dorset Echo: GOLDEN GIRL: China’s Lijia Xu GOLDEN GIRL: China’s Lijia Xu

THE fourth day of racing at the Sail for Gold Regatta in Weymouth and Portland brought strong winds from the word go, with 18 to 22 knots gradually building throughout the day.

However, it appeared to make no odds to the Laser Radial 2012 Olympic champion Lijia Xu, who is coached by Weymouth sailor Jon Emmett, as she clinched event honours on the penultimate day of the event.

The forecasters certainly hit the nail on the head with the British ‘summer’ battering the 2012 venue at this third stage of the EUROSAF Champions Sail-ing Cup.

Race officials had a challenging time out on the water as they contended with poor visibility and strong south-westerly gusts.

With a scheduled start of 2pm the racing for the 49er and 49erFX fleets was canned while other classes suffered postponements, cancellations and some exhilarating racing for the classes who did take to the water.

The Laser Radial fleet completed two of the three scheduled races, and with a race win – her seventh of the 11 races so far – followed by a third for her efforts yesterday, Xu amassed a 22-point lead at the top of the table to take the Sail for Gold crown ahead of today’s double points-scoring medal race.

Xu’s fellow team-mate Dong-shuang Zhang (CHN) has as good as wrapped up the silver medal, with the Radial sailor sailing a consistent series across the mixture of conditions which have been thrown her way.

The RS:X 8.5 and 9.5 raced in the morning in the more moderate conditions, and it’s still all about the one-two double act from Weymouth’s Nick Dempsey and Elliot Carney.

The young pretender to Demp-sey’s throne had another impressive day with a first and three seconds to hold on to his over-night lead, while Dempsey added three bullets and a second to claw back points on his GBR counterpart.

The gap between them is now a single point – setting up an intense medal race decided on the closing day of regatta.

Robert York (GBR), 17, had another day impressive day in the RS:X 8.5 rig racing alongside Olympic bronze medallist Bry-ony Shaw (GBR), scoring three firsts and a fourth, cementing him in second place.

Shaw holds on to her lead at the top of the scoreboard with 3-1-2-6, while the two-time ISAF Youth Worlds silver medallist Izzy Hamilton (GBR) occupies third, once again posting consistent results with three seconds and a third.

In the Finn fleet, Andrews Mills (GBR) has opened up a two-point gap over Mark Andrews (GBR) with two seconds from the two races completed yesterday.

In the 2.4mR Paralympic class, Portland’s Megan Pascoe (GBR) stormed to two race wins to open up a four-point gap over fellow islander Helena Lucas (GBR), who posted two thirds.

John Robertson, Hannah Stod-el and Stephen Thomas (GBR) also added a further two race wins to their almost perfect scorecard of nine wins from the 11 races completed.

In the women’s 49erFX class, Charlotte Dobson and Nicola Groves (GBR) take a healthy 11-point lead into today’s final day, while Kate Macgregor and Sop-hie Ainsworth (GBR) are second and Frances Peter and Lyme’s Mary Rook (GBR) are third.

The battle for the Radial bronze is still on with Annalise Murphy (IRL) clawing back a seven-point gap from GB’s Chloe Martin in the fight for the podium position – with the pair equal on 58 points.

Sam Meech (NZL) has in-creased his lead at the top of the Laser fleet despite recording his worst score of the regatta with a first followed by 15th in the final race of the day, with the Kiwi only needing to sail a clean race today to secure event victory.

The Nacra 17 course completed three races with Australia’s pairing of Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darminin delivering a blistering performance.

Racing is scheduled to start at 10am today with one double-points medal race for all classes apart from the 49er and 49erFX, who will have three, and the Paralympic classes who will sail two final single-points fleet races.

Similar conditions to yesterday are expected with a breezy start to the day, expected to moderate by lunchtime. The event is also open to the general public today giving them the chance to witness all the action of the medal races, the closing ceremony and the opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the world’s top Olympic and Paralympic sailors.

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