With less than 40 days to go to the Opening Ceremony in Athens on 13 August, ISAF is pleased to publish the provisional entry list for nations competing at the 2004 Olympic Sailing Competition on the ISAF Athens 2004 Microsite.
253 teams of one, two or three athletes will congregate in the Agios Kosmas Sailing Centre in a little under four weeks time, when the venue opens for business. Registration is due to start a mere two days later, when the pressure will manifest in every one of the athletes, team managers, coaches, and all number of other team support staff, as well as every single one of the organisers, media teams, journalists, umpires, measurers and spectators. For a whole month, the eyes of the sailing world will be on Athens.
With the majority of athletes now confirmed by National Olympic Committees, a clearer picture of who will be in Athens, and who will be the nations to watch, is emerging, although more athletes are being confirmed as representing their nation every day.
When that picture becomes clearer closer to the start of the event, ISAF will be bringing you an event-by-event preview of all the runners and riders and the nations to watch when sailing kicks off in Athens. This will be published on the ISAF Website
ISAF will also announce a second stage of invitational places, following on from the first stage on 28 June 2004, next week.
Meanwhile, here is an overview of the current entry for each event.
Single-handed Dinghy Men - Finn
21 nations are represented by 21 athletes in this technically developed, men's single-handed dinghy event using the Finn dinghy, which has been equipment on the Olympic Programme since Helsinki in 1952. Of the 21 competitors, 14 have competed at previous Olympic Sailing Competitions, with special note going to Karlo KURET
(CRO). Karlo's first Olympics were the 1992 Games in Barcelona and he is the only one of the fleet to compete in three Olympics in the same event, confirming his loyalty to the Finn..
Of those who have been to the Olympics before, Rafael TRUJILLO
(ESP) competed as a Star Crew in Sydney, whilst three others have competed in previous Olympics in the Laser Class, including multiple World Champion and hot medal favourite Ben AINSLIE (GBR).
for the full entry list
Double-handed Dinghy Men and Women - 470
Sailing as two separate male and female events, there are 27 male teams and 20 female teams who will fight for the Gold medal in Athens next month. A class that favours the lighter sailors, many have progressed into the 470 from the recognised international youth classes and this is highlighted in the number of athletes for whom Athens is their first Olympics. In the men's fleet, 17 of the 24 teams have not competed at an Olympic Games and in the women's fleet the number of "first time athletes" is 13 out of the 20 teams.
Although the number of teams who will make their debut at Athens is high, there is no shortage of talent and championship winning material. In the men's fleet there are a grand total of seven World Championship titles, including recent wins at the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships, whilst the women's fleet sees its fair share of Champions.
For the full entry list.
Keelboat Women - Yngling
The newest of the Olympic events and equipment, the Yngling, making its debut in Athens, will see three person teams from 12 nations on 12 August, and is one of the first three events for which racing will get underway. Competition has been fierce since the class was selected as Olympic Equipment in November 2000.
Since that date the women who have taken up the challenge have come from a variety of backgrounds, with many moving from the match racing circuit into the Olympic arena in the class. Of the 12 teams and particularly of the skippers; seven have previously been involved in high-level women's match racing, whilst a number have moved into the Yngling fleet from the Europe dinghy.
Only six have been to Olympic Games' prior to Athens, four in the Europe and two in the 470. Interestingly, neither of the last two year's World Champions will be representing their nation at the Olympic Games, both having fallen at the last hurdle in selection for their individual nation.
for the full entry list
Keelboat Men - Star
Arguably, the Star fleet contains the greatest depth of talent and ability of all the Olympic Classes. Highly funded, highly trained and highly experienced, the medal winners amongst this lot could come from almost anywhere. With 17 two-man teams competing against each other there are old scores to settle and points to prove almost all the way down this entry list.
With no fewer than eight Olympic medals, mulitple World Championship titles and a host of America's Cup campaigns, Volvo Ocean Races and a huge amount of sailing time between them, it is no wonder that few pundits would be brave enough to pick a winner this early on.
Only four out of the seventeen have never represented their nation at an Olympic Sailing Competition before, so most know what to expect, and will be prepared and ready come their start in the Saronic Gulf on 21 August 2004.
for the full entry list
Windsurfing Men and Women - Mistral
The Mistral board has been used as Olympic equipment since the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Sailing Competition in Savannah, with the windsurfing event itself first introduced for men in 1984 and women in 1992.. It is represented by both the most nations and the most athletes, with 61 across the two events carrying the hopes of their nations on their shoulders.
Of the 61 athletes, there are 34 men and 27 women. In the men's fleet, 13 athletes have been to an Olympic Sailing Competition before, but this number is set to change as the Gold medallist from 1996 Nikos KAKLAMANAKIS (GRE) has not yet been confirmed by his National Olympic Committee. In the women's fleet eleven have represented their nation at an Olympic Sailing Competition in the past.
The Mistral Class is another that rewards high loyalty and there are no athletes who have switched classes coming into this Olympic Games.
for the full entry list.
Multihull Open - Tornado
The Tornado has been used as the equipment for the multihull event since the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada, and there will be 16 teams representing their nation at the Agios Kosmas Sailing Centre when the venue opens.
Of those 16 teams, half have never sailed in an Olympic Sailing Competition before Athens, whilst some, including 2004 World Champions Santiago LANGE and Carlos ESPINOLA (ARG), have between them sailed in the last four Olympic Games! This is the first time the pair have teamed up together for a common goal however, and they should be watched as top medal prospects, with Carlos carrying two Silver medals from each of the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Sailing Competition from his time in the windsurfing event.
for the full entry list
Single-handed Dinghy Open - Laser
With 44 entries, the Laser fleet is the largest in Athens, and with all equipment provided by the organising authority, medals will be decided on the mental and physical abilities of the athletes. Nineteen of the athletes are making a repeat appearance at the Olympic Sailing Competition since Sydney, although one or two have missed a cycle.
With multiple world champions, ISAF Youth Sailing World Champions, and even one sailor representing his nation at the 2004 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship in Poland which starts on 8 July, the fleet is diverse and competitive. One question still remains though, with there be similar excitement in the final race in Athens as there was in Sydney?
The Laser fleet also has the accolade of the fleet attracting the most nations, and has been identified by ISAF as a preferred event, alongside the other single-handed events, to be allocated invitation places. There are currently five invited athletes on top of the original qualifiers in the Laser fleet, some of whom will make their Olympic debut in Athens.
for the full list of entries
High-performance Dinghy Open - 49er
The 49er is a physical beast of a boat that rewards expert fitness dexterity and a distinct lack of fear and there are 19 teams who fitted the bill and qualified to represent their nation in Athens in August.
Having made its debut at the Olympic Games in Sydney 2000, the ability of 49er teams has gone beyond the level where many were simply proud to have kept the mast above the hull around the race course. It is a tactical, physical event and the medal prospects are wide open.
Seven of the 19 teams have been represented at Olympic Games level before, although no helm/crew combinations have ever sailed together before at the Olympic Games, and only five of those seven actually sailed a 49er in Sydney, so the event is wide open, competitive and backgrounds from the athletes vary hugely. One thing can definitely be guaranteed, 49er racing will be spectacular.
for the full entry list
Single-handed Dinghy Women - Europe
The Europe Class is represented by no fewer than 21 sailors 15 of whom are returning once again to Olympic Competition. Although some have migrated to the Women's Keelboat, this single-handed fleet is still of the highest standard, and judging by the competitive nature of the last few World Championships, no one is giving up.