Ready, steady, go...

After much anticipation the ISAF World Sailing Games get underway tomorrow

Monday July 1st 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: France
Spectacular! On Saturday night, the 700 competitors participating in these World Sailing Games paraded on the well-known Canebière Avenue. 300,000 Marseille citizens were there to welcome them... Practice sailing for all fleets on Sunday and Monday, the right time to check on the competitors' potential.

There are many elite world sailors here ready to fight for podium positions. Among the favourites, Brazilian Laser multi-World Champion and Olympic medallist Robert Scheidt, Italian Olympic Sailboard Gold Medallist Alessandra Sensini, Greek 470 sailors and current World and European Champions and world ranking leaders Sofia Bekatorou and Emilia Tsoufla, and the Australian 2000 Olympic Silver medallist in the Tornado Class, Darren Bundock who has teamed up with Gavin Colby, current Hobie Cat 16 World Champion, for this event.

The French team hopes to take medals in the male and female Keelboat events.

The last minute registrations of champions Lise Vidal and Julien Bontemps give France a serious chance for top places in the Boardsailing event being sailed on the Bic Techno Formula and the Multihull event being sailed in the Hobie Cat 16.

In the men's single-handed event being raced in the same equipment as for the Olympics, the Laser class, it is "King Scheidt" who dominates the discipline, but he will be confronted by many long-standing Olympic competitors, such as the Portuguese Gustavo Lima, Croatian Mate Arapov and Swedish Karl Suneson. In fact there are, except one, 15 of the worlds top ranked Laser sailors here in Marseilles ready to do battle on the Mediterranean.

In the equivalent women's event, at Olympic level it is the Europe Class which is used, but for the ISAF World Sailing Games the Laser Radial has been selected. The Laser Radial uses the same hull as the Standard Laser, but with a smaller sail, 5,70 meters instead of 7,10 meters. This is ideal for Italian Larissa Nevierov and France's Sophie de Turckheim and Marion Deplanque who will benefit from former experience on this sailing equipment and of course sailing on home waters.

In the male and female keel boat events, there are many nations with a long-standing tradition in competing to a superb standard in both the J/80 and J/22, including the Americans, Italians and Scandinavians, who will be serious rivals for the French François Brénac, current World Champion, and Christine Briand, former ISAF World Sailing Championship World Champion in 1994 when the event was first held in La Rochelle, France.

As regards the Hobie Cat Female and Open events, watch out as the southern hemisphere has arrived in Marseilles in full force! Australians Darren Bundock and Gavin Colby and Simone Matfield (2002 Hobie Cat 16 World Champions) will be wanting to outsail the defending 1998 ISAF World Sailing Champions, Shaun Ferry and Alison Ball (RSA), in the open multihull event, but they will also have fellow countryman, Blaine Dodds (RSA) who took the bronze medal in 1994 hot on their heels. South Africa are also the reigning ISAF World champions in the multihull women's event, and Inge Chabort and Gillian Anley will similarly wish to be on the Gold medallist podium come 10 July 2002.

Over in the Male and female boardsailing event, being sailed using the Formula Windsurfing concept on a Bic Techno the field is really open. The ISAF World Sailing Games is welcoming many sailors who have jumped from the Mistral to formula, but the medals could be anybodys. This is the first time the Formula windsurfing concept has been used at an ISAF event, and the discipline is hoping that it may have a chance to be selected as the new boardsailing Olympic equipment for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, and with the additional exposure the discipline is being provided from the World Sailing Games, who knows?

Tuesday July 2nd - Program
11:00 hours : Single-handed Male and Keelboat Men and Female Qualifying series races

Kitesurf demonstrations

Special day guest : Alain Gabbay, Whitbread skipper.

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