Friday, 3 June 2011
The Star class at Skandia Sail for Gold 2010. Image copyright onEdition.
by Nicky Moore
2011 will officially see the biggest Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta ever, as a record-breaking entry of more than 1,000 of the world’s top Olympic and Paralympic sailors bid to claim early supremacy on the 2012 waters of Weymouth and Portland.
With a confirmed entry of 1050 sailors, in 740 boats, from 62 nations, competition within every class will be extremely fierce, with many of the sailors bidding to show their Olympic selectors why they should be in contention to represent their country at next year’s Games. No fewer than 11 reigning Olympic and Paralympic champions, and a whole host of Beijing 2008 and World medallists, will do battle across a total of 13 classes when 2011 Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta takes place between 6 - 11 June.
Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta is the penultimate event of the seven-round ISAF Sailing World Cup, with the latest event taking place just one week ago at the Delta Lloyd Regatta in Medemblik. Many of the early ISAF World Cup Series leaders chose not to compete at Delta Lloyd, resulting in a shake up in the overall leaderboard.
Paul Goodison (GBR), Beijing 2008 Olympic champion in the Laser, was one of those who chose not to compete at Delta Lloyd, opting to spend the time training on waters of Weymouth and Portland. Goodison explains: “It’s been quite a busy year so far with lots of foreign trips, so it’s really nice to be back home in Weymouth. I didn’t attend the Delta Lloyd Regatta last month as the two big events that are really going to matter to me are the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta and the pre-Olympic test event. With the games just over 12 months away it’s about trying to perform on Olympic waters”
Skuds at Skandia Sail for Gold 2010. Image copyright onEdition.
Among those Beijing gold medallists looking to throw down the gauntlet to their challengers at Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta are Kiwi RS:X master Tom Ashley, who will face a stiff challenge from a competitive fleet, including Dutchman Dorian Van Rijsselberge, Skandia Team GBR’s Nick Dempsey, the 2009 World champion, and Poland’s Piotr Myszka, the 2010 World Champion, if he is to claim his first ever Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta title. In the ladies’ event reigning World champion Blanca Manchon heads the fleet with 2010 Worlds silver and bronze medallists Alessandra Sensini (ITA) and Charline Picon (FRA) hot on her heels. Britain’s Beijing bronze medallist Bryony Shaw will also want to make a big impact on her home waters.
Three-time world champion Tom Slingsby (AUS) is reigning Olympic champion Paul Goodison’s biggest rival in the Laser, while 2010 Worlds bronze medallist, Andrew Murdoch (NZL) presents another danger from Down Under. The Laser Radial is also poised for an intriguing battle between ISAF World Cup Series leader and the 2010 Worlds silver medallist Marit Bouwmeester (NED) and double world champion Suri Multala (FIN).
In the Star, Brazilian legends Robert Schiedt and Bruno Prada, the Beijing silver medallists and current ISAF World Cup Series leaders, will want to make it an uncomfortable week for Olympic champions Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson (GBR) on their home waters, while Ireland’s Peter O’Leary will look to show his 2010 Sail for Gold win was no fluke, with David Burrows.
Strong international competition is guaranteed in the Finn class, from the likes of Beijing silver medallist Zach Railey (USA), Rafa Trujillo (SPA), Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) and Dan Slater (NZL) desperate to prove home advantage counts for nothing. The competition amongst the British Finn contenders is likely to be just as fierce, with three times Olympic Finn champion Ben Ainslie, Giles Scott and 2010 World champion Ed Wright, who respectively make up the top three in the ISAF World Cup standings going into Skandia Sail for Gold.
Ben Ainslie at Skandia Sail for Gold 2010. Image copyright onEdition.
Ainslie says: “The Finn is a pretty open class at the moment. There is a really strong foreign contingent taking part in the regatta, while, especially if there is a bit of breeze, the other British boys can do very well. Normally you find in these high pressure situations that some people step up and sail out of their skins to get results people might not expect, while others crack under the pressure. It is always interesting to see how people deal with pressure and there will be plenty of that of Skandia Sail for Gold.”
Reigning Olympic champions also feature in both the men and women’s 470 events. Since teaming up with new helm Mathew Belcher, 2008 gold medal-winning crew, Malcolm Page, has added a 2010 Worlds gold to his collection and the Australian pair currently top the ISAF World Cup standings. Meanwhile, fellow Aussie, Tessa Parkinson, who claimed Beijing gold with Elise Rechichi, will sail with Belinda Stowell at Sail for Gold. The dominant women’s pair coming into the regatta, however, remains Lisa Westerhof and Lobke Berkhort (NED), winners of the last two World Championships.
Danish 49er 2008 gold medallist Jonas Warrer is another to have changed crew since his Beijing triumph, but the new partnership with Soren Hansen is looking equally promising, the pair having picked up bronze at the recent Hyeres World Cup event. But 2010 Worlds silver medallists, Nathen Outteridge and Iain Jensen (AUS) are sure to be in the mix as are a number of British crews including Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes, winners of last week’s Delta Lloyd Regatta, Paul Brotherton / Mark Asquith and Chris Draper / Peter Greenhalgh.
Beijing Laser Radial champion Anna Tunnicliffe is now one of the leading contenders in the Women’s Match Racing, a new class for London 2012. Tunnicliffe’s team of Molly Andemoer and Debbie Capozzii is one of two American crews bidding to get the upper hand in the States’ selectors’ thoughts, with Sally Barcow leading the other crew of Elizabeth Kratizig-Burnham and Alana O'Reilly. Britain’s current World champion crew of Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor head the entry list.
Both defending Paralympic champions in the Sonar and 2.4mR classes will also be taking to the start line, with Paul Tingley (CAN) in the 2.4mR and the German trio of Jens Kroker, Robert Prem and Siegmund Mainka in the Sonar. 2010 IFDS Worlds Sonar gold medallists Udo Hessels, Marcel Van Heen and Mischa Rossen (NED) will want to give the Germans food for thought however, while multiple world champion Damien Seguin (FRA) will as always be a force in the 2.4mR, along with Thierry Schmitter (NED) and Heiko Kroeger (GER). The SKUD is poised for an intriguing tussle between double World champion Brits, Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell, and Beijing silver medallists Daniel Fitzgibbon / Liesl Tesch (USA).
Tim Hall, RYA Competitions Manager and Skandia Sail for Gold Event Director, added: “It’s going to be a tough event, and we expect standards to be high. We will be on top of our race management to ensure we deliver a great event for the sailors, making their lives as easy as we can so they can get their best out of the event and concentrate on their results.”
Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta is supported by UK Sport. For more information visit www.skandiasailforgoldregatta.co.uk