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The Globe and Mail

Canada's star pair sit fourth after strong day at Princess Sofia regatta

The light winds were fickle, but the Canadian star team of Richard Clarke and Tyler Bjorn are in fourth place on the second day of the Princess Sofia regatta near Palma, Spain.

Clarke of Toronto and Bjorn of Montreal finished tenth at the world championships in Perth, Australia in December, but were eighth at a pre-Olympic regatta in Weymouth, site of the London Olympic sailing event last fall.

On Monday, the wind was light, delaying the start of the first race. But the Canadians got off to a quick start. "When we tacked onto port, the whole fleet was in our window [a good sign]" Clarke said.

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They rounded the first mark with the lead, and held onto it until 40 metres from the finish when the French boat passed them.

The wind didn't co-operate in the second race, and they dropped back, perhaps a bit rusty for not having raced for a few months.

On Tuesday, the team finished tenth and second in two races under better conditions. "Still the light winds were fickle and we needed to be on our toes to climb the ladders and not slip on any snakes," Clarke wrote in the team blog.

They changed their strategy from the first day, when they had aggressive starts, to a more conservative approach. They rounded the first mark in fifth spot, but things unraveled on the second circuit. They decided to make a classic move "that all sailing books will tell you is the correct thing to do," Clarke wrote.

"Unfortunately today, the books were wrong as the five boats that sailed extra distance past the layline picked up better pressure and passed us.

"It was incredibly frustrating!"

In the second race, they had a poor start, but almost nipped the leader at the finish line to finish second.

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"We are very happy with the day," Clarke said. "We are sailing well, just need to stop the one bad mistake or at least find a way to stop the bleeding before it gets worse."

They are only two points out of second place.

Chris Cook of Toronto on the comeback trail, posted solid results in the Finn class, finishing tenth and fourth, moving him up to seventh place overall. He's only three points away from fifth place.

Cook finished fifth at the 2008 Olympics and retired for three years to work as a coach in Toronto, but felt he had unfinished business.

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