San San's worlds bid blown off course

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 April, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 April, 2004, 12:00am

Lee Lai-shan's chances of winning her fourth world title nosedived into the warm waters off Cesmi, Turkey, when she turned in two below-par performances in the sixth and seventh races at the World Championships.

The Hong Kong windsurfing ace struggled once again in strong winds to finish 12th and 20th in the two races respectively to kiss goodbye to the slim hopes she had of overhauling race leader Alessandra Sensini of Italy.

The poor results saw San San slip from the second position to fourth on the overall standings.

'This is far from what was needed to consolidate her second place and keep within touch of the leader. She has now dropped to fourth. It has been a bad day for us,' said disappointed Hong Kong coach Rene Appel.

Sensini, winner of the gold medal at the Sydney Olympics four years ago and San San's main rival this summer in Athens, has taken a stranglehold on the title holding a 19 point lead over second-placed Barbara Kendall of New Zealand.

Sensini aggregates 10 penalty points from seven races while Kendall has 29. In third place is Frenchwoman Faustine Merret with 38 while San San is fourth on 45.

Appel revealed that the strong winds had played havoc with both the men's and women's fleets.

The first race in the men's event had to be abandoned midway and re-started after a three hour wait by the sailors on the water.

'After the three-hour wait, the winds stabilised somewhat but the next couple of hours were spent trying to get a proper start for the different groups. This was made difficult by a starting vessel which could not get anchored properly. After nine hours afloat we managed to get two races in for all groups. San San's race took place in winds well over 25 knots,' recounted Appel.

Earlier in the week-long competition, San San earned a disqualification from one race after she clashed boards with another competitor.

She was able to use that race as her discard race, but it left her with little margin for error.

Hong Kong's men fared little better with Ho Chi-ho and Cheng Kwok-fai trailing at the back of the gold fleet.


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