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by Ian Grant on 20 Sep 2000
Katrina Butler
Robert Scheidt the defending Laser class Gold Medallist opened the defence of his title with an impressive first race win in the 2000 Olympic regatta on Sydney Harbour this afternoon.

Sheidt the winner of the recent World championship in Mexico again exercised his supreme Laser sailing technique in ideal 12 knot variable South South Easterly winds.

As expected Sheidt was cramped for room on the starting line where Luis Martinez of Spain held the advantage to lead a closely grouped fleet to the first mark followed by Vasilij Zbogar of Slovenia and Andreas Geritzer of Austria.

Sheidt settled into his race plan improving his fleet position from a close 6th at the second mark before claiming the lead mid race to score a relatively comfortable win over Andreas Geritzer of Austria and Martinez of Spain.

Australia's Michael Blackburn the World championship Silver Medallist to Scheidt in Mexico and rated as a medal contender finished 8th.

The second race sailed in a similar wind velocity with the shifts favouring the left hand side of the beat played into the tactical race plan of the English helmsman Ben Ainslie.

Ainslie the Silver Medallist behind Scheidt at Savannah 4 years ago recovered valuable points when he won the second race just ahead Scheidt and Peer Moberg of Norway.

At the end of the first day and two intensely competitive races Scheidt with a score of 1-2 appears to be in the right form to win his second successive Gold Medal with a clear 9 point lead over Zbogar of Slovenia (7-5) and Geritzer of Austria (2-12) while Australian Michael Blackburn holds fourth on (8-8).

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