Pre-Olympics/test event starts today
The Weymouth and Portland International Regatta (aka the 'Pre-Olympics' or the '2012 test event') starts today out of the Weymouth & Portland Sailing Academy as a dry run of the sailing event for London 2012. Principally the event is designed to test the facilities, the staffing and operations, etc all of which must operate within the draconian parameters laid down by London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG).
The event is a good practice for those running and working on it as it is for the sailors taking part, for like the Olympic regatta, and crucially unlike Skandia Sail for Gold and all the other Olympic classes event, the Weymouth and Portland International Regatta is also a 'one boat, per country, per fleet' affair and as a result there will be considerably less traffic on the race courses, less congestion in the boat park, etc. So for example in the 470s while Skandia Sail for Gold saw 77 470 Men's teams and 46 Women's, at the Weymouth and Portland International Regatta there are just 32 of the former and 26 of the latter.
Racing gets underway today with the Women's Match Racing with Round Robins until Thursday. Then the pace drops somewhat with the quarter finals on 6 August (Saturday), the semis on the 9th and the finals on the 11th. Women's Match Racing perennially seems to take more time than the other events so it is probably wise to have left several reserve days allowing much possibility for playing catch-up if required.
Next up are the RS:Xes which start racing on 4 August (Thursday) and finish with their medal race on the 11th. On the 5 August the 470s and Lasers kick off with their medal races held on 12th while the 49ers, Stars and Finns get underway on 6 August (Saturday) and finish a week later. So essentially the all-important medal races will span three days - 11-13 August.
How relevant the results from the competition on the water will be is questionable. Only a very few nations, such as Italy, have selected the sailors they are definitely sending to the Games next year and for example the British representatives competing over the next fortnight are those that came out on top in their respective classes at Skandia Sail for Gold and there remain big question marks over selection particularly in both 470 classes, the 49er and the Laser Radial. The Brit 470 reps competing are especially interesting because they are both late runners in Nick Rogers and Chris Grube, plus Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark. Perhaps this is a welcome issue unique to Skandia Team GBR and the other big sailing nations which are fortunate to have depth and talent in a number of different classes.
Weather-wise, after a few benign days, the last of which looks set to be today, the wind is set to build - Wednesday and Thursday are forecast to be a sea breeze days with little happening until the southwesterlies kick in during the afternoon, but from Friday over the weekend the gradient wind builds and Sunday and Monday are looking decidedly brisk.
So, as mentioned, first up today is the Women’s Match Racing. To explain the format: 12 teams from Australia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden and USA will all sail against each other in the Round Robin. The top eight move to the Quarter Finals and their results will determine seeding. For the remaining teams their result in the Round Robin determines their place from 9-12 overall. The winner of the Quarter Finals advance to the Semi Finals and the losers move to a sail off to determine fifth to eighth place. The winners of the semi-finals then advance to the Final.
ISAF Sailing World Cup Women’s Match Racing title winner and Beijing Laser Radial Gold medallist Anna Tunnicliffe misses out on the Weymouth and Portland International Regatta after Sally Barkow was selected ahead of her. Barkow was impressive throughout the ISAF Sailing World Cup and recorded four podium finishes including gold at Trofeo S.A.R. Princess Sofia MAPFRE.
The Weymouth and Portland International Regatta will also feature the Rolex Miami OCR winner Claire Leroy (FRA), Semainé Olympique Française victor Lucy Macgregor (GBR) and Kieler-Woche winner Ekaterina Skudina (RUS).