ISAF on Thursday released the first rankings of the new Olympiad following the conclusion of the Olympic Sailing Competition of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games last Saturday.
Although the primary event included in this rankings release, the Olympic Games, is Graded as a World Championship for all eleven events, there are a number of other Grade 1 and 2 events included. These affect the rankings of athletes who were not in Athens, but who are starting their relevant campaigns for 2008 in Beijing.
Windsurfing - Mistral
In the men's fleet, medal favourite for the Olympic Games, Julien BONTEMPS (FRA) still tops the rankings, despite him failing to secure a podium finish in Greece. Gold medallist Gal FRIDMAN (ISR), who secured Israel's first ever Olympic Gold, has consolidated his position in the rankings and moves up from eleventh to sixth. Meanwhile, Nikos KAKLAMANAKIS (GRE), in winning the Silver medal after a long period of training alone and not being on the circuit, jumped from 17 to eighth.
Nick DEMPSEY (GBR) in that rock and roll final race in Athens secured his first Olympic medal and the bronze for Great Britain, he now sits in second place, the highest of the three Olympic medallists for 2004. The gap between him and Bontemps remains fairly large and a number of athletes will be pushing to close that gap.
Further back in the top twenty there are some new names emerging in this post Olympic period of the rankings. Lars KLEPPICH (USA) finished eighth out in Athens. It was not his best performance at an Olympic Games as he finished fourth in Sydney in 2000, but the result has catapulted him up the rankings from 27, to round out the top ten.
Women's ranking leader, French athlete Faustine MERRET firmly embedded herself at the top of the Windsurfing ladder when she won Olympic Gold at her first attempt. Third at both the 2004 and 2003 World Championship, she has extended her lead at the top of the rankings to a massive 240 points over Italian Alessandra SENSINI. Alessandra herself has leapfrogged Natasha STURGES (GBR) as a result of her Bronze medal in Athens. Natasha had a disappointing time in Greece and her ranking has suffered as a result.
Silver medallist Jian YIN (CHN) has rocketed into the top twenty, up from 25 to 18 after her result at the Olympics. She hasn't been a big attendee on the World circuit but looking forward to the next four years, she will be developing in order to represent her nation at the Olympic Games on her doorstep.
Single-handed Dinghy Women - Europe
Siren SUNDBY dominated the Saronic Gulf over August, taking home a Gold medal for her efforts, but the gap is still tight at the top of the rankings in the class. Finnish Olympic representative Sari MULTALA is hot on her heels and her fifth place in Athens has kept her firmly attached to Siren's tail.
The hardest thing for Siren, with a Gold medal in her possession, will be to try and maintain the edge over her rivals, of which during the next four years, there will be any number wanting to take the accolade from the Norwegian athlete.
Silver medallist in Athens, Lenka SMIDOVA (CZE) has not seen her position on the list change as a result of her fantastic achievement, whilst Signe LIVJBERG (DEN), who scored one of Denmark's two Olympic medals, has popped up from 10 to eighth. She jumps over a no doubt disappointed Carolijn BROUWER (NED), who finished 19 in Athens.
Single-handed Dinghy Open - Laser
Robert SCHEIDT (BRA) has now reached legendary status in the class that was first introduced for the 1996 Olympic Sailing Competition in Savannah. That was one Gold medal he won and after finishing second in Sydney in 2000, he reclaimed what he must really be considering his own possession, becoming the first to win two Gold medals in the class.
At the top of the ISAF World Sailing Rankings he is also unassailable and holds nearly a 300 point advantage over closest rival Paul GOODISON (GBR). After a shaky start in Athens, Goodison recovered and narrowly lost out on the bronze medal, but it is refreshing to see the athlete back on form and looking forward to Beijing in four years time.
Silver medallist Andreas GERITZER has always been there or thereabouts on the International circuit but he really found his form in Athens. The resultant medal for Austria has moved Geritzer into the top ten for the first time in 2004. Vasilij ZBOGAR (SLO), Bronze medallist in Athens is up to fourth overall, behind Australia's Michael BLACKBURN.
Double-handed Dinghy - 470
The men's 470 fleet in Athens was one of the tightest in the Games, and the Gold and Silver medals were not decided until the final race. It was the start of the final race when US veterans Paul FOERSTER and Kevin BURNHAM went one better than their combined previous in getting the better of Nick ROGERS and Joe GLANFIELD (GBR)
The Silver medal for the British team, however, was enough to secure them the top spot in the subsequent rankings release. They rose from third overall as a result of a disappointing result in Athens from previous ranking leaders, Nathan WILMOT and Malcolm PAGE (AUS). Foerster and Burnham remain in fifth spot.
Surprise Bronze medallists Kazuto SEKI and Kenjiro TODOROKI (JPN), have moved into the top ten and now sit just behind class veterans Eugene BRASLIVETS and Igor MATVITENKO (UKR) in 14 place. The biggest moves in the top twenty however, are reserved for Slovenians Tomaz COPI and Davor GLAVINA. They finished 14 in Athens and are making their first appearance in the top twenty, now lying in 17 position in the rankings, their highest point in the last two years.
The women's fleet was dominated by the familiar sight of local athletes Sofia BEKATOROU and Emilia TSOULFA (GRE), and after a period of uncertainty when due to injury it was doubtful as to whether we'd see them on the startline, they were popular winners of the Gold medal.
Ingrid PETITJEAN and Nadege DOROUX (FRA) still lead the rankings despite finishing a disappointing tenth in Athens. Sofia and Emilia, after their extended layoff from International competition moved up from 14 to 11 position along with receiving their Olympic Gold medals.
Silver medallists Natalia VIA DUFRESNE and Sandra AZON (ESP) have remained in sixth place, whilst Therese TORGERSSON and Vendela ZACHRISSON (SWE) have closed the gap on their Spanish rivals after their Bronze medal performance out in Greece.
Double-handed Dinghy Open - 49er
Leading up to the Olympic Sailing Competition there were one or two teams who really stood out as consistent contenders for Olympic glory. Over the sixteen short, sharp races that cream rose to the top.
Current leaders of the Rankings, Great Britain's Chris DRAPER and Simon HISCOCKS, eventually secured the bronze medal in Athens and as a result have maintained their lead at the front of the 49er fleet. Coming into the Olympics on the back of a fairly serious arm injury, Iker MARTINEZ and Xavier FERNANDEZ were their closest rivals, and were hungry to keep themselves from breaking and taking home a medal. This they achieved and as a result have moved up from 20 to 13.
Rodion LUKA and George LEONCHUK (UKR), have always been up there in a fleet with an excellent camaraderie between athletes and teams, and in winning the silver medal ahead of Draper and Hiscocks in Athens, they popped into the top three in the rankings, behind Tim WADLOW and Pete SPAULDING.
Single-handed Dinghy Men - Finn
Ben AINSLIE (GBR) showed the world exactly what he is capable of in the world of sailing when he fought back from a disqualification early on in the regatta to claim his second Gold medal in a row, his first being in the Laser in Sydney 2000.
That feat has not launched him to the top of the rankings in a very tight front of the pack, but it has closed the gap between himself and the three top class athletes infront of him. The number one spot is held by multiple medal winner Mateusz KUSZNIEREWICZ, who seemed to be the happiest man in Greece when he won the Bronze medal after a tense final race.
Rafa TRUJILLO (ESP), who was third at the ISAF World Championships in Cadiz in 2003, has closed the gap to the front to a mere 15 points following his second place finish in Athens.
Further back in the rankings, Laser sailor turned America's Cup skipper turned Finn sailor Dean BARKER, has made his first appearance in the top twenty of the Finn rankings, just. In finishing well in Greece he has improved his position in the World by nine places up to 20 overall.
Multihull Open - Tornado
One of the final events to finish at the 2004 Olympic Games on the last Saturday, Gold medals were eventually awarded to the Austrian team of Roman HAGARA and Peter STEINACHER. Despite this, the proximity of Satiago LANGE and Carlos ESPINOLA (ARG) in the final finishing positions to the Austrians has resulted in them taking the top spot from the Olympic Champions.
Lange and Espinola won the bronze medal in Athens and finished behind John LOVELL and Charlie OGLETREE (USA), who won USA's second medal in the Olympic Sailing Competition. That has pushed them up a single place to fifth overall in the rankings, ahead of Leigh MCMILLAN and Mark BULKELY (GBR), who had a disappointing time on the racecourse in Athens.
Francesco MARCOLINI Edoardo BIANCHI (ITA) have really come on strongly in their build up to finishing tenth in the fleet in Athens, that build up to a solid result has meant that they are now established within the top twenty in the World, and rightly so.
Keelboat Women - Yngling
Shirley ROBERTSON, Sarah WEBB and Sarah AYTON's emphatic victory in the class at the Olympic Sailing Competition was as impressive as it was useful to their ranking position. They are now in the top three of the rankings, behind leader Dorte JENSEN (DEN) and Kristin WAGNER (GER).
Dorte eventually ended up with a Bronze medal in Athens after being OCS'd in a decisive last race. With the OCS attached to her scoreline she lost the fight for silver with Ruslana TARAN (UKR), who has now one three Olympic medals in two different classes over the years.
Ruslana was previously 15 in the rankings but her Silver medal in Athens has pushed her up to eleventh. The US crowding of the fleet that was obvious in the build up to their very competitive Olympic Trials as diluting as many of the skippers and crews return to their match racing or other products.
Carol CRONIN, Liz FILTER and Nancy HABERLAND, who represented the USA to tenth place at the Games, have maintained their fifth place position in the rankings, just behind Giulia CONTI (ITA).
Keelboat men - Star
Out in Athens, Torben GRAEL and Marcelo FERREIRA showed the amassed depth of talent exactly how easy it was to win a fifth Olympic medal, his fourth in the Star class. That results has pushed him up the Rankings from 14 to 12 after having not been seen on the circuit for a little while.
Freddie LOOF and Anders EKSTROM (SWE), ex Finn sailors, had an Olympic Regatta that they might want to forget quite quickly, although finishing 12 in one of the closest fleets in the Olympic Games has not hurt their position at the top of the latest rankings release.
A disappointing Olympics for Loof allowed Iain PERCY and Steve MITCHELL (GBR), the chance to come back at their close friends and rivals, despite being strong medal prospects, like Loof and Ekstrom they suffered from inconsistent results in the light and tricky conditions on the Saronic Gulf. Flashes of brilliance enabled them to pull back to finish sixth overall, closing the gap on the leaders in the overall rankings release.
Silver medallists Ross MACDONALD and Mike WOLFS (CAN) have also watched their ranking position improve as a result of a brilliant result in Athens. Now in fifth place they have made the gap at the top look pretty slim going in to the next Olympiad. It was French athletes Xavier ROHART and Pascal RAMBEAU (FRA), who pulled off a Bronze medal and with it secured an extra place on the rankings. They now lie in sixth place.