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Hazelman in contention for sailing medal

Arin Kumar
Tuesday, June 10, 2014

FIJI'S Robert Hazelman is officially a medal contender at the Oceania Sailing Championships that is currently underway in New Caledonia.

Hazelman raced to two second placings, two third placings and a fourth placing in five races to be ranked third in his laser category in Nouméa.

Fiji Yachting Association secretary and team manager Neville Koop Hazelman performance on day one was positive.

"Robert is the most experienced of the three Fiji sailors competing this week," he said.

"Robert pushed the locals very hard today (yesterday) on their home waters and led the fleet at various times in several races, and he is very competitive in these conditions.

"Unfortunately he was disqualified in the first race of the day today (yesterday) after being over the start line early, an error he suffered yesterday (Sunday) also.

"With 10 races now completed each competitor can discard their two worst placings meaning Robert is presently third overall just a few points behind the second placed sailor.

"But with 5 more heats to go tomorrow (today) the pressure is building and he cannot afford any more mistakes."

The other two Fiji sailors, Naomi Waqalevu and Vili Ratulu performed credibly and finished each race with more competitors behind them than in front of them in what is their first international regatta.

"Vili has been a real revelation. This is not only his first international event but it is his first time away from Fiji.

"Despite having just turned 14, he has approached the regatta with a maturity that belies his youth and it shows in his performances.

"He has consistently finished with more sailors behind him than ahead of him and a top 10 finish is not beyond him if he applies himself and has some good luck.

"Young Naomi has shown that she is more than capable of holding her own at this standard also, and with more coaching and a better conditioning she will improve rapidly."

Competition ends today.

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