Sailing gear on board for San San

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 June, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 June, 2001, 12:00am

Lee Lai-shan's bid to score a hat-trick at the World Championships in August was given a boost as she will be able to train at the venue in Athens for two weeks next month after logistical problems with her sailing equipment were ironed out.

Hong Kong head coach Rene Appel said last month they might not be able to get a feel of the conditions in Athens because it was difficult to transport sails and boards within Europe.

While it is easier to handle the equipment by car, this alternative was ruled out as they would have to endure a 45-hour journey, including a long stay on a ferry on the way to Greece.

But the much-needed training became possible after KLM airlines promised to allow their equipment on the flight from Amsterdam to Athens.

'Few planes that fly continental are big enough to transport the equipment and therefore it's always a gamble whether they will be accepted on the same flight. This results in delays on the other side.

'Of course, there is the risk of damage but we have no choice as driving would be logistically impossible for us,' said Appel, who is coaching the squad led by 1996 Atlanta Olympic champion San San for this week's Kiel Week Regatta in Germany.

Appel said the data-collecting mission in Athens would be valuable for San San's preparation for capturing her third world crown. She tasted successes in Japan in 1993 and in Perth in 1997.

'It would be nice to see San San win a third world title. Yes, the main purpose of going to Athens is to get a feel for the conditions in order to prepare the best we can. We'll only have a little time in Marseille but we place higher priority on the World Championships,' he said.

Meanwhile, San San is hoping to add a Kiel Week Regatta victory to her SPA Regatta trophy she won in Holland last month.

'We've had excellent training conditions so far and have been able to spend a lot of time on the water. All the sailors have made excellent progress,' Appel said.

The squad is completed by former world junior champion Ho Chi-ho, reigning world junior bronze medallist Chan King-yin and female sailor Chan Wai-kei.