Brits on top at 49er Worlds

Reigning 49er World Champion skipper Nathan Outteridge and crew Iain Jensen have had a strong second day of the 49er World Championships in Riva del Garda, Italy, moving up the leader board to fourth overall after six races.

The Australian Sailing Team crew was at the front of the fleet in the day's three races with a fourth, second and first leaving them just two points behind leaders Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes of Great Britain.

However, Great Britain continues to dominate with three crews in the top five. Morrison and Rhodes, the 2007 ISAF Sailing World Champions, were able to sail a 3, 1, 3 today to move into the overall lead. They are closely followed by fellow British teammates and ISAF Sailing World Cup leaders Paul Campbell-James and Mark Asquith, who sailed a 2, 3, 1 to keep the two teams just one point apart.

The Ora came in as planned at 13:00 and built slowly to about 18 knots, but soon dropped down to 12 with the last fleets coming off the water at 18:30. In these conditions, overnight leaders, Dave Evans and Simon Hiscocks (GBR) did not have such a great day and after finishes of 19, 16 and 18 drop from first to 15th overall.

Nico Delle-Karth and Nikolaus Resch from Austria continue to look good. They lie in third on 11 points after 1, 6, 2 scores today (the sixth is their discard). It was also a good day for two-time Olympic medallists Iker Martinez and Xabier Fernandez (ESP), who after a shaky start yesterday came back strongly with 1, 3, 4 results today. They climb from 25th up to 12th overall.

Australian 49er coach Emmett Lazich said if the weather stays as it is with late Ora thermal winds in the 10 to 16 knots range, the race starts will be very intense and the championship results can change very quickly with the top four appearing to be the in-form teams at this stage.

“Nathan and Iain are in a strong position in terms of confidence and skills accuracy considering they are learning more as a new team with every race they do,” said Lazich. “They're in good health and know how to fight.”

The Australian Sailing Development Squad crew of Euan McNicol and Sam Newton are the next best placed Australians in 13th and still well within striking distance of the leading crews.

“Euan and Sam are in a good position in an extremely strong fleet, which is a great result so far given that this is just their third 49er regatta as a team and only the third ever 49er regatta that Sam has competed in,” said Lazich.

Australian crews hold down 22nd and 23rd positions in the 89 boat fleet with brothers Will and Sam Phillips in 22nd and David O'Connor and Robert Bell in 23rd.

Chris Nicholson and 2008 Beijing Olympic Games representative Ben Austin continue to gel as a team in their first ever regatta together and sit in 40th, with three-time 49er World Champion Nicholson replacing the injured Darren Bundock just two weeks before the start of the regatta.

Steven Thomas and Kyle Langford are currently 45th and finished day two strongly with an eighth and ninth placing in the final two races, ahead of Clint and Ty Marshall in 58th.

Sean O'Rourke and Harry Bethwaite are in 66th, while Robert Gibbs and James Garnaut are 73rd.

Silja Lehtinen (FIN), 2006 29er World Champion with crew Will Howard (AUS) leads the 29erXX Gold Cup posting a 2, 1, 1 today in trying conditions. The Swedish crew of Sara Engstrom and Hanna Darhlborg also posted good finishes, but a collision caused them a DNF in the last race. Tiina Kotamies and Camilla Cedercreutz of Finland round out the top three of the 15-boat fleet.

Sailing continues tomorrow with three more races for the qualifying of the 49er class while the 29erXX fleet will have three remaining races to close out the Gold Cup.

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