Morrison and Rhodes set to defend

Toby Heppell reviews the form going into the 49er World Championship at Sail Melbourne
Taking place as part of Sail Melbourne the 49er World Championships is due to get underway soon. With 13 nations qualified for the Beijing Games, including Australia, and a place automatically going to host nation China, the five remaining places will be decided at this Championship, putting the pressure on a number of international competitors. The championship is also the last Worlds before the Beijing Olympics. As such it is interesting to note that in many ways this Worlds will be easier than the 2007 event in Cascais while in other ways it will be harder. Firstly as a great deal of Olympic selection has already taken place so some of the top names will not be at the event. As an example Chris Draper and Simon Hiscocks - World champions in 2003 and 2006 and runners up in 2004 and 2005 - who missed out on Olympic selection for Skandia Team GBR this year, will not be attending. Also absent are the two American teams Dalton Bergan/Zack Mazam and Morgan Larson/Pete Spaulding both of whom lost out to Tim Wadlow and Chris Rast at the US Olympic Trials back in October. Although a number of top names will not be present at the event those that are there - and there are still a great many of them will be either vying for Olympic selection for themselves or for their country - or gearing up for the Olympics themselves in the summer. This all means the fleet in Melbourne will all be at the very top of their game and will all be looking for the best results possible, with little conservative sailing going on. The form Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes (GBR): After a long time sitting as the second ranked British 49er pairing Morrison and Rhodes have had a phenomenal last couple