Lee hopes Pacific Rim will take her to top

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 October, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 October, 1995, 12:00am

FORMER women's world champion Lee Lai-shan is hoping to get back into the top five on the world ranking chart after the Asian Pacific Rim Championships at Tung Chung Bay off Cheung Chau next week.

Lee, who held the number one spot for more than 18 months until a change in the calculation system early this year saw her drop to fourth, is now ranked seventh.

Hong Kong coach Rene Appel is confident the 1993 world champion will give a good account of herself sailing on home waters, and hopes she will regain a berth in the world's top five.

'San San [Lee] missed several of the major regattas this year and that affected her world ranking,' said Appel.

'She won in Holland and France and was second at the pre-Olympic regatta, so she's been winning her fair share of races.

'This would only be her fourth major event of the year so I think it's just a matter of time before she gets back into the top three, or even first place.' The Asian Pacific Rim will bring to Hong Kong 32 overseas sailors - 13 women and 19 men - from China, Japan, Singapore, Thailand and Macau.

However, Lee and local number one Sam Wong Tak-sum are the raging favourites to win their respective divisions.

Lee should be in a class of her own in the absence of Chinese aces Li Ke and Zhang Xiaodong but she still rated budding mainland sailors Zhang Chujun and Wang Lifeng as her top rivals.

Said Lee: 'There are no easy races at this level and it is dangerous to underestimate the opposition.

'Zhang Chujun and Wang Lifeng are both in the top five in China and I'm sure they will give me a good run for the money.' Sam Wong, the 1994 Hiroshima Asian Games silver medallist, is strongly fancied for the men's championship but he is certain to face stiff competition from China's Liu Youcai, Indonesia's Arun, and Japanese duo Ikuo Inoue and Motokaju Kenjo.