Laser Radial Worlds set sail tomorrow
After nearly a week of blustery Scottish winds, many of the competitors preparing for tomorrow’s start to the Laser Radial World Championships elected to rest, to sail only briefly or to participate in only part of today’s official practice race.
The Clyde estuary off Largs offered great racing conditions. Twelve to 15 knots of southwesterly wind and sunshine. There was a steady churn of competitors on and off the water, but most decided to keep their powder dry.
The championships were opened by a traditional pipe band parade through the streets of Largs tonight, to a warm Scottish welcome.
Both the Women’s Olympic class and the Men’s fleet are considered to be very open. The Women’s fleet have a number of top sailors back in the class after a break and the majority of the world cup regattas and last month’s European Championships have been raced in winds of which the majority have been lighter than 12 knots.
Defending champion is Finland’s Sari Multala who has a record of performing well in the stronger wind ranges, also finishing a very, very close runner up at a breezy 2007 ISAF World Championships in Cascais. Current Olympic champion Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) returns to the class for a refreshing sabbatical from the Women’s Match Race Olympic circuit.
Her last time in the Laser Radial was winning the Women’s Laser Radial North American championships in February after only a week of training. Tunnicliffe has been back in the boat for about the same length of time and has looked sharp on the water and relaxed off it. Croatia’s Tina Miehlić won last month’s European Championships in Tallinn. Lithuania’s Olympic silver medallist Gintare Scheidt comes to Largs, where her husband Robert won his ISAF World Youth Championship title in 1991, after a third place at last month’s European championships.
All three 2008 Women’s Laser Radial Olympic medallists compete here in Largs.
Belgium’s World Ranked No 1 Evi Van Acker finished second at the Delta Lloyd regatta and fourth at the Europeans, while Holland’s Marit Bouwmeester won the Delta Lloyd world cup regatta in May and is world ranked second.
Of the Skandia Team GBR sailors Charlotte Dobson will compete on the waters where she first trained as a youth squad sailors a dozen years ago. A native of nearby Helensburgh she narrowly missed out on Olympic selection in 2008 and is fresh from a second place at the European Championships and second at the ISAF World Cup regatta in Hyeres in April.
The only woman to be competing here who raced at the 1991 ISAF Youth World Championships on these waters is Greece’s Maria Vlachou, when she finished sixth. Her love affair with the Laser Radial continues and she describes her return to the Clyde as a ‘very pleasant déjà vu’.
The Women’s fleet has drawn 118 qualified women from 35 nations while the Men’s World Championships fleet has 104 entries from 30 countries. Defending champion is Poland’s Marcin Rudawski.
Although the breezes have been strong since before last weekend, much lighter, easterly and south easterly winds are forecast for Friday when two races are scheduled.
Croat Tina Mihelic, European Champion commented: “I have been here a few days and it seems like it is always windy. I am not so keen on the weather. I sailed really well at the Europeans and hope I can do the same here, but last year my worlds was not so good. I hope this year it will be better. After the Europeans I had a week of rest and two weeks of sailing. I am good across the wind range. I would be happy with a bit of everything. The standard is very high. I am focused just on my sailing and I am not thinking about the other girls. I just want to do well and make few mistakes and the results will come.”
Marit Bouwmeester, World no 2, who was 4th at last year’s Worlds added: “I like it here, the waves are a little bit the same as Medemblik, so it is OK. I have no clue how I will do. There are a lot of good girls racing. It is the first time this year that everyone is together at the same event so it will be exciting. I am always the same, always quite happy. I think because the wind looks up and down then a consistent series will be important. I like the strong winds, but for me a bit of everything. I have not raced against all the girls now that some are now back in the fleet, so I will just try to do my own thing and see how I end up.”