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 January 12th 2008



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Windsurf: Olympic Class - RS:X  Male and Female
At the Takapuna Boating Club in New Zealand, the competition took off with a practice race, a race to test out equipment and get an idea of the racing field. At 12 noon local time, while here in Italy it will be midnight, the first races will begin between 200 competitors who after selections will be down to 60. Other races will be held to see who will qualify for the golden fleet where only the first 10 will take part in the finals, to see who will take the title in the Medal Race. A total of 11 races will be held throughout the week. Amongst the favourites in the male category are Ricardo Santos and Tom Ashley, and Alessandra Sensini and Barabara Kendall in the female category. The favourites in the Italian category are Heidegger and Esposito.


The kiwi Tom Ashely on his return after the pratice race

Flavia Tartaglini in the lead during the pratice race

While in Italy another day is finished, on the other side of the world another day has just began. As it has done in Hauraki's gulf, in New Zealand, at 10.00am local time on the 12th of January, the practice race began of the RS:X Olympic Class World Championships, the third to take place after Garda in 2006, with a victory from Alessandra Sensini , and Cascais 2007.
Italy has a good group of athletes in New Zealand, Alessandra Sensini (Genova Yachting Club), is in the company of young promising athletes such as Flavia Tartagliani (Fiamme Gialle) and Laura Linares (Marsala Sailing Club). In the male category Fabian Heidegger (Marina Military) Alessandro Giannini (4th in the 2007 Olympic Class Italian Championships), Federico Esposito, Michele Cicerone and Marcantonio Baglione (1st Youth in the 2007 Olympic Class Italian Championships) in the younger age group along with Guido Carli. Heidegger and Esposito are the favouites amongst the Italians, both have excellent technical qualities and have results in lighter winds, but Heidegger seems to have more self assurance and an emerging character after qualifying for China.


The very fast surfer Federico Esposito


A tough week is ahead with a total of 11 races forecast, which will begin on Sunday. The spot lights will be focusing on Alessandra Sensini, Barbara Kendall, Sofia Klepaka, Ricardo Santos, the world champion who is seeking to keep his title, and Tom Ashley. It's hard to predict a winner in this World Championship. The more expert athletes in this race will most likely be amongst the winners, such as Alessandra Sensini , Barbara Kendall and Tom Ashley. There are many athletes who have prepared themselves for the last important race before the Olympic Games in Qingadou. Young athletes and not so young athletes will compete against each other in the many races that the wind conditions will allow to carry out. The athletes were officially invited to participate in qualifying for the finals. Alessandra Sensini and Flavia Tartagliani will race in the same group with athletes with the most titles, while Barbara Kendall in the other group with the young Laura Linares, who with light winds could reach a good position in the results. Everything is ready for the official opening of the races, starting on the 13th of January, will be divided into two groups, male and female, up until the 19th when the first 10 of each category will race in the last two finals on the 20th. The "Medal Race" will be the last race of the championship and will be held only for those who reach the finals, and will decide who the 6 medals go to. Tomorrow two races are due to be carried out for both categories with the athletes being divided into another two groups for both male and female. The first day begins tomorrow the 13th of January at 12 noon local time. A wind of 6-10 knots is forecast, coming from a North-East dierction and a temperature of 22 C.
On the racing field there will be the television cameras, but not like there was at the America's Cup, at Takapuna it seems to be more like at a football match than at Windsurf World Championship. Penalised by the fact that there are no television networks, the event can't enjoy the same attention as other sailing events such the America's Cup, which made plenty of fans thanks to the media, from all over the world, many of these people don't even get near sea but can get an inside to sports carried out in it by watching t.v. A Windsurf World Championship will never be an America's Cup, but whoever had the chance to live such an experience of a pre-olympic race will know how eye-catching 200 athletes from 50 nations can be. "Travelling a lot and changing places where I train, I've got to know lots of different kinds of windsurfs and ways of doing it, but the great thing about it is the freedom you have and the contact you have from the nature, the sea and the wind" says the champion from Caldaro, Fabian Heidegger, and talking about media coverage he adds "there are countries such as Israel where windsurf has a completly different meaning than here in Italy. The space they have dedicated by the newspapers and the t.v. is huge".
The RS:X World Championships will allow more nations to qualify for the Olympics. There are 9 places in the male category (bringing the number to a total of 35 athletes for the Olympic races to be held in august at Qingdao), and 7 places in the female category (for a total of 28 athletes). Italy has already qualified in both categories at Cascais in 2007, thanks to an 11th position by Fabian Heidegger and 5th by Alessandra Sensini. They will represent Italy in the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing.


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