Improving Chan produces big finish

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 June, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 June, 2006, 12:00am

Hong Kong's Chan Wai-kei clinched fifth place overall among the women by winning the final medal-race in the RS:X class at the European Championships in Alacati, Turkey.

After a week of competition and 10 previous races, only the top 10 competitors from the field of 38 were eligible for the medal race.

Even though her race victory did not move Wai-kei up in the placings - she started the day in fifth spot and remained there - it marked significant progress for her in the RS:X class.

Like her Hong Kong teammates, Wai-kei is much more experienced in the mistral class, which will be replaced by RS:X as the Olympic class event at the Beijing Olympics.

Hong Kong coach Rene Appel was impressed by her performances throughout the one-week regatta. Wai-kei won races six and 10 and finished second in the ninth race.

'It is an excellent result in this championship where the cream of Europe's sailors compete,' said Appel. 'Most European countries use this championship to determine funding and as a result the level is incredibly high.

'I am obviously very pleased, not only with the results here, but more so with our performances, especially because we are expecting light winds in Qingdao for the 2008 Olympics.

Spaniard Blanca Manchon, who finished third in the medal race, claimed the women's overall title, while the second and third places went to Bryony Shaw of Britain and Antonia Frey of Greece.

The conditions were a bit patchy for the start of the medal race.

Wai-kei took an early lead, covering the fleet down the left side of the course. But she lost her advantage on the first downwind section before regaining it on the last downwind one.

In the men's event, Hong Kong's Chan King-yin made it into the medal race from a field of 94 board sailors, but finished last in the medal showdown and failed to improve on his position of 10th overall.

King-yin kept a decent speed in the lighter conditions against the men's field and sailed consistently in tricky conditions.

Nick Dempsey, Olympic bronze medallist in Athens, won the overall title, followed by Joeri van Dijk of the Netherlands and Przemek Miarczynski of Poland.

The team will arrive back in Hong Kong on Tuesday, when they will start preparing for the national championships in Shandong province next month.