Mistral Worlds kick off tomorrow

Sasha Oswald previews tomorrow action at the Pattaya Park Beach Resort in Thailand

Saturday December 7th 2002, Author: Sasha Oswald, Location: Australasia
As the 2002 Olympic class sailing season draws to a close, the last world championship of the year is due to commence tomorrow at the Pattaya Park Beach Resort in Thailand. It has been a long drawn out year for the Mistral fleet, and tomorrow will mark the start of their most important event of the season.

Organised by the Windsurfing Association Thailand and the Eastern Windsurfing Club, 160 windsurfers from 60 countries are due to compete at the worlds in picturesque settings, two hours from Bangkok. The average breeze for the venue this time of the year is 10-20 knots and with water temperatures in excess of 25 *C and with air temperatures to match, it is sure to be ideal conditions for what is one of the most physical classes that competes at the Olympic Games.

It has been a successful year for the RYA Team GBR windsurfers under the guidance of coach Barrie Edgington. In the women's discipline Natasha Sturges has put in a string of medal winning performances this year, including taking home the silver medal from the European championships in Austria at the beginning of September.

The medals have also been rolling in from Nick Dempsey and Dom Tidey in the men's fleet, who have guaranteed between them that a medal has come home from each of the Olympic class regatta's (with the exception of the Olympic Test Event) and Dempsey was placed highest Brit at the Europeans, finishing in sixth place.

The Mistral fleet has had a number of different sailors at the top of the class this year. The key event of the year, the 2002 Olympic Test Event, was dominated in the men's fleet by Olympic gold medallist and current world champion Nikolaos Kaklamanakis of Greece who won from James Wells of New Zealand and in the women's fleet, European champion Alessandra Sensini of Italy took home the gold from Olympic medallist and current world champion Lai Shan Lee of Hong Kong. These are a few of the names that are likely to be seen at the top of the scoreboard, but it is by no means decided who will be victorious at the 2002 world championship and it is certain to be a closely fought battle for the silverware.

Racing will take place from the 8-15 December with Wednesday 11 scheduled as a lay day and the format will be a twelve race series over the seven days of competition.

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