Mistral Europeans kick off

In Sicily today

Friday May 9th 2003, Author: James Boyd, Location: Italy
The 2003 Mistral European Championships gets underway today (Thursday 8 May), taking place from the Albaria Club in Mondello, Sicily.

91 competitors will race in the men's fleet, including many of the top windsurfers in the world. There will be many sailors capable of medalling at this event including RYA Team GBR windsurfers Dom Tidey and Nick Dempsey who are ranked 3 and 4 in the world respectively. Dempsey is on good form after winning the first major Olympic class event of the year in Palma. Tidey finished fifth at the world championships at the end of last year and will be hoping to repeat this success if not better it in Sicily.

Other sailors that will be fighting it out at the top of the fleet include current world champion and 1996 Olympic bronze medallist Gal Fridman of Israel, 1996 Olympic champion Nikos Kaklamanakis of Greece and worlds bronze medallist Julien Bontemps of France who recently finished runner up to Dempsey in Palma. Bontemps is one of a number of top French windsurfers who you would expect to see finishing at the forefront of the fleet.

In the women's fleet 45 windsurfers will compete for the European title which was won last year by Olympic gold medallist Alessandra Sensini of Italy. Sensini will be back to defend her title and is on strong form after finishing runner up at the world championships last year and winning the Olympic Test Event last summer. The challenges will come from the 1996 Olympic Champion Lai Shan Lee of Hong Kong who finished runner up to Sensini at the Test Event, French sailor Lise Vidal who took home the bronze from the Europeans last year and Britain's own Natasha Sturges who won silver at the Europeans last year and is ranked number one in the world. Fellow RYA Team GBR sailor Bryony Shaw will be looking for a good result here and has made a good start to the season after finishing in sixth place at the Palma Olympic classes regatta.

RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park commented, "Windsurfing within Team GBR is very strong at the moment with Natasha Sturges currently ranked number one in the world and Nick Dempsey and Dom Tidey both in the top five. The team will be looking for a good result at this event and to consolidate on the hard winter months spent training."

Men and women race separately and are scheduled to compete in a total of 12 races over 7 days, which will include a reserve day which may be used for racing. The championship concludes on the 14 May.

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