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Daily Archives: October 12, 2008

Yachting: Volvo race around the world gets under way

Eight yachts representing seven nations set off yesterday from the Spanish Mediterranean port of Alicante on the Volvo Ocean Race around the world, one of the most gruelling and hazardous events in sports.
Thousands of people and hundreds of spectator boats saw the competitors off at around at 2:00pm (2200 in Macau) under cloudy skies and in the presence of Spain's King Juan Carlos.
The 10th edition of what started in 1973 as the Whitbread race is the longest and most challenging ever, and includes three stops in Asia for the first time — in Cochin in India, Singapore and Qingdao in China.
After 37,000 nautical miles (68,500 kilometres), the finish line is in St Petersburg, Russia, where the teams are expected in June 2009.
The 88 sailors on the eight 70-foot (21.5-metre) single-hull yachts already face a challenging first two days as they head toward Gibraltar, where stormy weather drove two freighters aground during the night.
From there, they travel south across the Atlantic to the first stop in Cape Town, South Africa, where they are expected around November 3.
Sweden's Ericsson Team International, skippered by Brazil's two-time Olympic gold medallist Torben Grael, and Spain's two Telefonica yachts are the favorities.
But US entry Puma Ocean Racing and the Sino-Irish Green Dragon are seen as strong outsiders.
As the yachts headed out of Alicante bay into the open sea, Ericsson was leading Puma and Telefonica Blue.
The race is expected to be tighter than ever, with the toughest leg that between Singapore and Qingdao, followed by the longest stage, between Qingdao and Rio round Cape Horn.
The teams are "much better prepared" than before and the yacht designers have "homogenised the fleet," said French yachtsmen Sebastien Josse.
Josse took part in the last Volvo race in 2005-06 aboard the Dutch boat ABN-Amro II, on which a crew member died after being washed overboard. The boat later rescued the crew of the Spanish yacht Movistar after their boat sank.
The three other teams competing are Ericsson Team Nordic, which has already been penalised for a rules violation over the weight of its keel, and Team Russia and Team Delta Lloyd from the Netherlands, which have repaired damage to their boats following a collision during the in-port race in Alicante.
Each of the yachts receive points according to their position in each of the 10 legs. Half points are also awarded at seven 'scoring gates' along the route and for the seven 'in-port' races.
On October 4, Telefonica Blue, skippered by Dutch veteran Bouwe Bekking, took an early lead in the competition by winning the first of seven 'in-port' regattas.

Wrestling: Double Japanese delight at women’s world champs

Hitomi Sakamoto and Ayako Shouda brought two gold medals to Japan with Canada's Martine Dugrenier taking the other on the first day of the women's wrestling world championships yesterday.
The 27-year-old Sakamoto, the defending champion, comprehensively defeated Maryna Markevich of Belarus to win the 51-kilogramme title for her sixth time overall.
"I came into the championships thinking I would retire after that, so I'm really happy to finish my career by winning the title again at home where I was born and grew up," said Sakamoto.
Vanessa Bourbryemm of France and Yuliya Blahinya of Ukraine took the bronze medals beating Jessica Bondy of Canada and Marina Vilmova of Russia respectively.
The 26-year-old Shouda, seventh last year, downed Natalia Golts in the first period and then fixed the Russian for a fall, winning back the 59kg title she won in 2005 and 2006.
"I lost the world title last year and I couldn't take part in the Beijing Olympics this year. I was ready to retire in those disappointing days," said Shouda with tears in her eyes.
"But I came back again. I feel great that I was able to win the gold medal for those people who had supported me."
The bronze medals went to Elvira Mursalvoa of Azerbaijan and Agata Pietrzyk of Poland, winners over American Deanra Rix and Sabrina Esposito of Italy.
Dugrenier scored 4-0 and 4-1 to win the first two periods in the best-of-three contest to beat Mami Shinkai of Japan in the 67kg final for her first world title. Japan have never won this category.
"The day has been like I got the momentum one match after the other. I was feeling better and better. Before the matches, I knew I had my opportunity, and I just took it," said the Canadian, 29.
Kateryna Burmistrova of Ukraine defeated Suman Kundu of India, while Ochirbat Nasanburmaa of Mongolia outclassed Ulia Borinovskai of Russia to win the bronze medal.

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