San San hits top form to grab lead

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 January, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 January, 1998, 12:00am

Lee Lai-shan swept to the top of the women's mistral class standings at the Sail Melbourne Regatta after winning both her races yesterday in performances reminiscent of her World Championships victory last month.

With one more race to go in the nine-race series, San San is poised to retain her title and stay unbeaten since winning in Perth four weeks ago.

The Cheung Chau-born sailor finally struck top form when it mattered to leave her rivals in her wake in Melbourne.

It was in this manner that she won the world title after facing an unenviable task going into the final three races.

Then, she fought back from a near hopeless position to win her last three races, pipping Olympic bronze medallist Alessandra Sensini by just one point on the final day's racing for her second world title.

In Melbourne, San San appears headed for victory after an indifferent start to the championship - one of two qualifying events for December's Asian Games. The Auckland Regatta next week is the second qualifying event for the Asiad.

She was fifth after the second day of racing but has now worked her way up the board after going into yesterday's races in third place.

A top-three placing in her final race today should be enough for Hong Kong's Olympic champion to seal her first victory of the year.

She will be able to discard her two worst results over the week's competition - a fifth and a seventh place - which should further brighten her prospects.

San San leads Australia's Natasha Sturgess by three penalty points.

Australian Jessica Crisp is in third place a further 12 points adrift, with Britain's Christine Johnston steady in fourth place.

'She is in a strong position to retain her title,' said Windsurfing Association of Hong Kong sports executive Louis Leung. 'She had two marvellous races today and barring any hiccoughs in her final race tomorrow, she should win the title again.

'Her win would depend on how her rivals fare in the final race. Natasha Sturgess [lying second] still looks a threat but San San looks too good at the moment especially as she has now regained her confidence,' he said.

'Knowing San San, she will probably go all out for a win and put the result beyond doubt.' Chan Hoi-suen, Hong Kong's up-and-coming young sailor, had another consistent day of sailing to stay in 10th place overall after finishing seventh yesterday.

Meanwhile, Wong Tak-sum improved to 11th place overall in the men's mistral class after a topsy-turvy day of racing when he finished third in his first race and then ninth in the next.

Sweden's Fredrik Palm is guaranteed the men's title barring a disaster today.

He is 25 points clear of his nearest rival Kenjo Motokavu of Japan.

Germany's Baronjan Alexander is in third place ahead of a pair of Britons, Dominic Tidey and Benjamin Profitt