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Ashley Best NZ Sailor After First Day In Spain

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, March 29 NZPA - New Zealand board sailor Tom Ashley has made a strong start at the opening regatta of this year's Olympic class European circuit in Palma de Majorca in Spain.

The Beijing Olympic gold medalist had to work hard in light and unstable winds between 6-8 knots, eventually finishing in third place overall after two races in the men's RS:X board sailing on the opening day of the six-day regatta.

In a fleet of 72, Ashley placed third in the first race and sixth in the second, giving him a total of nine points. Israel's Shahar Zubari, bronze medallist in the 2008 Olympics, snared the early lead two wins.

New Zealanders Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie also made a strong start to the regatta in the women's 470 double-handed dinghy class. Opening the series with a race win, the pair then placed 13th in the second race of the day to sit fifth overall in a strong fleet of 41.

Teammates Paul Snow-Hansen and Jason Saunders had an equally solid start in the men's 470, a division with 93 entries split into two fleets for the qualifying round. Just one race was completed on the opening day, and Snow-Hansen and Saunders were fourth in their race, giving them a share of seventh overall.

New Zealand has six sailors in the Laser class which totals 131 boats. After day one of racing, there are two are placed within the top 10 of the fleet -- Andrew Murdoch in seventh place and Michael Bullot (ninth).

Murdoch, New Zealand's representative at the 2008 Olympic Games, returned a fourth and eighth, while Bullot was 12th and fourth. Teammate Andy Moloney, 16th in his opening race, finished second in the second race of the day and currently lies 12th.

The regatta is the third of seven events in the 2009-10 ISAF Sailing World Cup series.


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