Errors leave Lee all at sea

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 November, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 November, 1999, 12:00am

A premature start and a collision with another boardsailor added up to a disastrous beginning for Lee Lai-shan at the World Championships yesterday.

The Olympic champion was placed 46th overall after the opening two races in the 60-strong fleet of the championships in Noumea, New Caledonia.

San San was dealt a major blow after she was scored a maximum penalty point of 61 for the mistake she allegedly committed at the start of race one where she came a respectable fifth.

To make matters worse, she came a disappointing 31st in race two after colliding with another board at the start, which resulted in her spending a large amount of time performing penalty turns.

San San had filed a protest to the jury and pending the final outcome of it, her hopes for a hat-trick of world titles appear gloomy.

She must ensure she sails extremely well and makes no mistakes in the rest of the week-long event, which comprises a maximum of 11 races. Competitors are able to discard their worst two race results.

Her arch-rival, Barcelona Olympic champion and reigning world champion Barbara Kendall of New Zealand, is joint leader along with Natasha Sturges of Australia.

National coach Rene Appel said they hoped the protest could help overturn the original jury decision.

'She felt that she wasn't over the line at the moment of the start. The jury was sympathetic to the fact that she wasn't the only one, and not the one who crossed the line most,' the Dutchman said.

This is the latest of a series of incidents that have contributed to a far-from-ideal preparation for the Hong Kong team.

San San and Sam Wong Tak-sum, her husband, have not been in top form as they have been concentrating on their sports management degree course in Canberra the past five months.

And problems emerged as soon as they left Sydney.

They had to put up with a cancelled initial flight, unsuitable accommodation, illness and inadequate strong winds for training.

Meanwhile, Wong and Ho Chi-ho also had poor starts to their bids to qualify for the Sydney Olympics. The event offers 11 places for Sydney. Wong was 40th overall with his 36-41 finish in group green, which comprises 48 sailors while Ho was 37th overall after finishing 38th and 34th in yesterday's races in the 48-strong group blue.

Defending champion Aaron McIntosh of New Zealand and Tony Philip of Fiji lead group green and group blue respectively.