The Harken Laser World Championship completed in Turkey today with four more countries qualifiying for the 2004 Olympics fleet

In perfect sailing conditions two more races were completed to end the qualifying series of the Harken Laser World Championship in Turkey today. It was also a day when four more countries qualified for the 2004 Olympics as they qualified for the gold fleet – Korea, Malaysia, Ireland and Uruguay.

Now the fleet is split into gold and silver there will be equal interest in the gold fleet and silver fleet with 22 countries still trying to qualify for the remaining four country positions in the silver fleet.

Today the racing was exciting at the front of both the qualifying fleets was exciting in the 17-20 knot winds. In the first yellow fleet race Ali Kemal Turfekci from Turkey led at the halfway stage. He and the next four boats took the port-hand mark at the downwind gate whilst Mathieu Murati FRA opted for the starboard mark which proved decisive as he had a comfortable lead by the time the fleet reached the next windward mark which he held to the finish.

In the first race of the blue fleet Hamish Pepper NZL and Gareth Blanckenberg RSA tied at the end of the first downwind with each taking opposite marks at the gate. Following Blankenberg to the right-hand side of the course was Frederick Westman FIN and Robert Scheidt BRA. Scheidt was on a roll. He said: “I played the shifts on the second beat the same way I did on the first and was able to pass the guys in front of me. After that I just protected my lead.”

In the second race of the yellow fleet Michael Blackburn AUS started in the middle of the line. He said: “I had a good start and had good speed. I was patient and waited for the knock and then had a few good tacks sailing the high angles and got to the top mark third behind Brendan Casey AUS and Mark Mendelblatt USA. On the second windward I had a little bit of extra speed, which hasn’t been the case in every race, and got to the top mark first.” Blackburn held his lead to finish ahead of Karl Suneson and Casy with Mendelblatt fourth.

Scheidt completed a perfect day by winning the second race of the blue fleet. “Again I played the shifts nicely up the first beat and came to the top mark behind Andreas Geritzer AUT. We had a bit of match race for the rest of the race and I managed to win by 20 metres.”

Results (provisional) after one discard

1. Robert Scheidt BRA 9pts

2. Michael Blackburn AUS 15pts

3. Mark Mendelblatt USA 15pts

4. Karl Suneson SWE 20pts

5. Hamish Pepper NZL 23pts

6. Andreas Geritzer AUT 24pts

7. Gareth Blanckenberg RSA 30pts

8. Paul Goodison GBR 33pts

9. Brendan Casey AUS 33pts

10. Peer Moberg NOR 42pts