49ers go big in Hawaii
Will Richardson and Greenhalgh, acknowledged strong wind masters, bring back a medal to Blighty?
If you are looking for a world championship venue, then the Pacific paradise of Hawaii which the 49er class have plumped for this year is about as good as it gets. The class is being hosted by the Kaneohe Yacht Club with racing in the steady trade winds and flat seas of Kaneohe Bay.
More than 80 sailors from 19 countries are in Hawaii this week for 2002 world championship, which doubles up as the first country qualifying event for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
The first qualifying races get today and continue through to Wednesday, 19 June when the gold and silver fleet split will be made. Only the top half have a chance of racing for the 49er world title, which is currently held by Sydney Olympic bronze medallists Jonathan and Charlie McKee, on leave from the US OneWorld America’s Cup team.
Olympic silver medal winning crew Simon Hiscocks, now teamed up with Chris Draper is amongst the favourites, along with former world champions’ Santiago Lopez-Vazquez and Javier de la Plaza from Spain, who finished fourth in Sydney and are ranked fourth in the ISAF world rankings.
In fact, nine of the ISAF’s top 10 world ranked 49er teams are competing in Hawaii, including world number ones’ Rodion Luca and Georgiy Leonchuk from the Ukraine.
There will be a strong push from the British 49er sqaud to medal with three times inside the top ten of the ISAF world rankings. Paul Brotherton, sailing with relatively new crew Mark Asquith, is fourth, Draper and Hiscocks eighth with Alister Richardson and Peter Greenhalgh tenth.
The 40-plus teams in Hawaii for the 2002 Worlds come from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine and the United States.