Shark sighting hurries World Championship racing


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The Independent Online

A shark sighted close inshore led to a hurried morning meeting of leaders from the 78 countries and 1,100 competitors taking part in the world championships of sailing.

“Aerial shark patrols over the sailing courses have been stepped up after a credible sighting of a large shark in the fishing boat harbour,” said spokesman Richard Palfreyman.

Two people are believed to have been killed by sharks in the last six weeks in adjacent waters. Event director John Longley said: “The report was made by a professional fisherman. Our course boats and the rescue service will be on extra alert. The safety of athletes is paramount.”

The previous day all racing had been cancelled because of the threat of lightning and stormy winds, but battle was resumed with particular focus on the men’s heavyweight Finn singlehander and the two-man 470 dinghy.

Conditions were perfect for the 470s, winds up to 20 knots and a moderate swell as Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell banged in three wins to be equal on points with the defending world champions Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page of Australia.

Patience and Bithell were revelling in the conditions and their nearest British rivals, as they seek to wrap up selection for Weymouth next year, were Nic Asher and Elliot Willis in 10th plus Nick Rogers and Chris Grube 13th as the fleet reforms into gold and silver groupings.

Just as tight is the Finn heavyweight singlehander. In his group, current world champion Ed Wright crossed the line first in all three races, but he was disqualified from the first for jumping the gun at the start. He is still in the top six overall. In the other group, reigning Olympic champion Ben Ainslie scored three thirds as his young rival Giles Scott lodged a second and two firsts. The battle continues.

In the RSX windsurfer, Britain’s 2008 bronze medallist Bryony Shaw moved up to second behind Lee Korzits of Israel after five races, and a win in the final race of the day lifted Alison Young to fourth in the Laser Radial.  And Britain’s Lucy and Kate Macgregor plus Annie Lush were sitting comfortably on six wins and two losses in the women’s match race preliminaries.


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