Gearing up for Sail For Gold
Just a few days remain until entries for the Skandia Sail for Gold regatta close on Monday 26th July. Currently over 800 competitors from 53 nations have entered the fifth installment of this ISAF Sailing World Cup event.
Many of the world’s top sailors have signed up, including World, European and Olympic champions, who will all descend on Weymouth and Portland over 9-14 August for the final event of the ISAF Sailing World Cup. Some of these competitors are returning to Olympic class sailing after a break for events such as the Volvo Ocean Race and America’s Cup. Triple Olympic gold and silver medallist Ben Ainslie announced his entry this week. Nearly two years to the day that he secured his third Olympic gold in Beijing, Ben returns to compete in his Finn.
Ainslie commented: “I think Skandia Sail for Gold is a really important regatta for me to attend to not only check in with where the rest of the Finn fleet are, and what developments have taken place since I've been away, but also to familiarise myself with the venue and conditions as I've actually not raced an Olympic Class boat at Weymouth and Portland for about five or six years. I have to accept I'm not going to be 100 percent race ready, 100 percent Finn fit and at my ideal racing weight, but the benefits of competing far outweigh any frustrations I may experience as long as I'm realistic, and possibly more importantly, other people are realistic about what I can achieve on such limited preparation."
Current ISAF Rolex World Sailors of the year Torben Grael (BRA) and Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) are set to compete at this event. Grael, a five time Olympic medallist has recently returned to the Star. His last Olympic appearance was in Athens in 2004, and most recently he skippered Ericsson 4 to victory in the 2008/09 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race. He will be competing in the highly competitive Star class, where he secured bronze at the World Championships in Rio earlier this year, in Weymouth he and fellow crew Marcelo Ferreira will line up alongside current World Champions and Beijing gold medallists Skandia Team GBR’s Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson. With a gold medal in the Laser Radial Class from Beijing under her belt, Anna Tunnicliffe is back competing both on her Radial in 2010 and also lining up in the fiercely competitive Women’s Match Racing class at Weymouth. Commenting ahead of the event, Tunnicliffe said, “I’m very excited to come to Weymouth. We had a great time last year and it was such good sailing. I think the venue and sailing area are great, what more could we want! The racing will be close, but if we sail smart and minimize the mistakes then we have a good chance at doing well overall”.
Other notable British entries include double Olympic gold medallist Sarah Ayton competing in the 470 with crew Saskia Clark, they recently won the last ISAF Sailing World Cup event in Kiel and have high hopes for a podium finish. In the RS:X class, Beijing Bronze medallist Bryony Shaw will be looking for a good performance on home waters, however she will have to keep an eye over her shoulder for recently crowned RS:X silver medallist at the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championships Izzy Hamilton. World and Olympic Laser champion Paul Goodison will be looking to make his mark in the largest fleet of the event (160 entries so far), whilst recently crowned World Champions in the Paralympic Skud class Alexandra Rickman and Niki Birrell are looking forward taking on the compeition, "Racing on the Olympic courses will be very interesting for us, it will be an opportunity to see what the competition is like on the future 2012 site and we can’t wait to take on the rest of the world on home turf!”.
The international field is a depth of talent including Australian 470 Beijing gold medal-winning crew Malcolm Page, fresh from winning the World Championships with Mathew Belcher. Olympic veteran, quadruple Olympic medallist Robert Scheidt (BRA), and recently crowned Women’s 470 World Champions Lisa Westerhof and Lobke Berkhout (NED). Claire Leroy (FRA) and crew, currently ranked third overall in the ISAF Sailing World Cup Women’s Match Racing standings (view standings here) will be battling it out with just one point separating the top three boats led by Skandia Team GBR’s Lucy Macgregor and crew. Elsewhere the Finn class is equally as close, with just seven points seperating the top three sailors. Britain’s Ed Wright will be looking to defend his ISAF Sailing World Cup title, but with Finn heavyweights including Beijing silver medallist Zach Railey (USA), Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO), Jonathan Lobert (FRA) and Ben Ainslie’s return to the circuit, it is clear there will be a well fought battle for the overall title.
Schedule of events
Sunday 1st August - Venue Opens
Friday 6th August - Event Office opens for registration
Sunday 8th August - Briefing for coaches and team leaders & Opening Ceremony 1900
Monday 9th August - Racing day 1
Tuesday 10th August - Racing day 2
Wednesday 11th August - Racing day 3
Thursday 12th August - Racing day 4
Friday 13th August - Racing day 5
Saturday 14th August - Medal Races (no warning signal after 1530)