Home trio sail ahead in opening exchanges

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 December, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 December, 2009, 12:00am

The absence of China's top two boardsailors has virtually handed Vicky Chan Wai-kei the gold medal in the RS:X women's class, and the Hong Kong ace asserted her authority by winning the opening two races yesterday.

Up-and-coming mainland stars Chen Peina and Zeng Huiyan both failed to show up on a wet and dreary day at Stanley. No one could fully explain their absence, and it is unclear if they will turn up today.

'All we know is that Chen had injured herself - we don't know what the injury is - while the other Chinese girl was sick,' Hong Kong head coach Rene Appel said.

Chen defeated Hong Kong duo Vicky Chan and Chan Hei-man - the other local competitor in the race - at the National Games three months ago and was expected to pose the biggest challenge to the home team.

While their absence opens the way for Vicky Chan, Appel said he would have preferred a competitive 10-race series, one that would have challenged his team.

'It's not the sort of way we want to win,' Appel said. 'It will be nice if they can compete.'

In second place is Japan's Yuki Kanai, who is lying two penalty points adrift, while Hei-man is in third place, another two points behind.

'It was cold and miserable, but happily we are off to a good start - not only in this class, but also in a couple of the other categories,' Appel said.

Hong Kong sailors also finished top in both the mistral classes with Cheng Kwok-fai dominating both races in the lightweight event, while Leung Ho-tsun had a one-two finish in the heavyweights.

The only blip, although it is still early in the competition, came in the RS:X men's class where Ho Chi-ho finished second and third in the opening two races to finish in third place overall.

Japan's Makoto Tomizawa spent a week acclimatising to the conditions off the shores of Stanley and, even though the weather took a turn for the worse yesterday, he showed his versatility with one-two finishes to lead the eight-strong field.

South Korean Lee Tae-hoon was one penalty point behind Tomizawa, while Ho was two behind. Hong Kong's other competitor, Chan King-yin, was in fourth place overall.

Appel is still hopeful that Hong Kong will be able to make a clean sweep of all four gold medals in windsurfing. 'However, we can't be complacent,' he said. 'The conditions were very strong out there and the forecast is for it to be the same [today] before wind conditions get lighter later in the week.

'It will help some of our athletes, and might not help others. It is too early to start tallying gold medals.'