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16 December 2004, 09:15 am
Part 2 - April And May
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2004 - ISAF Year In Review

As the Olympic Games got ever closer, the pressure on the Olympic classes intensified in April and May as all eleven completed their final qualification regatta to decide the line-up of nations for Athens. The World Championships of the Mistral, Tornado, 49er, 470, Star, Yngling and Star classes, the Finn European Championship and Semaine Olympique Francaise for the Europe were the high pressure events.
The final national qualification slots were up for grabs and the athletes intent on making their last preparations. The biggest drama took place at the 470 Worlds in Zadar, Croatia when multiple World Champion and Olympic gold medal hopefuls Sofia BEKATOROU and Emilia TSOULFA (GRE) pulled out of the championship, as Sofia was medivaced back to Greece for urgent surgery on her back. With less than 100 days to go until the start of the Olympic Games, it looked like one of the home nation's biggest dreams was over before it had began.

At the Laser Worlds, Brazilian legend Robert SCHEIDT won a record seventh title - fabulous preparation for his assault on the gold medal in Athens. Following the close of the Laser Worlds, the final list of nations eligible to compete at the Olympic Sailing Competition was compiled and the stage was set for a phenomenal summer.

The ISAF Grade 2 Princess Sofia Trophy took place at the beginning of April, and May wrapped up with the ISAF Grade 1 SPA Regatta closing another phase in the build up to Athens. It was many of the usual suspects who climbed onto the podium and with just one more ISAF Grade 1 event for all the Olympic Classes scheduled before the Olympics, speculation was rife as to who would peak at just the right time.

As the countdown to the Games went below 100 days, complementing the Olympic microsite, ISAF published the Making Waves Olympic Update bringing readers all the latest news and features. The build up to the 2004 Paralympic Games was also intensifying at this time. ISAF launched a new 2004 Paralympic Games microsite and the IFDS announced the final list of sixteen nations who would be competing out on the Saronic Gulf in September.

Following on from the IFDS Single-Person Dinghy Championship in Melbourne, the IFDS completed the second of its two inaugural World Championships, the IFDS Two-Person Keelboat World Championship sailed in the Martin 16 in St Petersburg, Florida. The event attracted a class act of sailors but was dominated from start to finish by the Swedish sailors Gustaf FRESK and Aron ANDERSON, both of whom were to be seen later in the year in Athens.

It was a busy couple of months on the match racing circuit as well with no less than six ISAF Grade 1 events taking place. Ed BAIRD (USA), Jesper RADICH (DEN), Russell COUTTS (NZL) and Bertrand PACE (FRA) went home with the prizes from the open events whilst Australia's Peter GILMOUR found himself the runner up in three finals. On 28 April, ISAF released the Match Race Rankings which would decide which skippers would be invited to the 2004 ISAF Match Racing World Championship to be held in Russia in July. Baird's consistent form and increasing collection of ranking points was not yet enough to propel him to the top of the world rankings but he was certainly lining up for a strong defence of his world title.

The first of the two ISAF Grade 1 women's match racing events took place in Alicante, Spain and it was a sweet victory for Sweden's Jenny AXHEDE. However, the results from this event were not including into the rankings of 28 April and Marie BJÖRLING (SWE) was not toppled from her perch. There was good news for the women's circuit in May when a new ISAF Grade 1 event was added to the calendar for August. The Lysekil Women's Match Race offered 40,000 Euros prize money and a line-up including the world's top 12 skippers.

And it wasn't just the professionals who were strutting their stuff on the match racing course. On 9 May, HRH Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and the Crown Princess-to-be Australia's Mary DONALDSON did battle on the race course with the assistance of sailing icons from their respective countries - John BERTRAND (AUS) and Jesper BANK (DEN). The couple were married on 14 May and ISAF was also delighted to welcome HRH Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark as a member of the ISAF Events Committee later in the year.

ISAF was delighted to congratulate ISAF Secretary General Arve SUNDHEIM on his marriage to Jennifer HARRISON on 1 May. Their celebrations were attended by friends and family from around the world. The couple honeymooned in Italy where they also visited the ISAF Olympic Windsurfing Equipment Evaluation Event in Torbole. The second of two Evaluation Events, the testing in Torbole took place during a week of light and rainy conditions on the legendary Lake Garda but the windsurfing world would have to wait until the Annual Conference in November for the final decision on equipment. This issue, amongst others, was also discussed by the Sailing Committee who held their Mid-Year Meeting at the ISAF Secretariat at the end of April.

Whilst equipment was being tested for the 2008 Olympic Regatta, the PWA circuit was in full swing. The inaugural Super X World Cup took place in France with Antoine ALBEAU claiming victory and in Hawaii it was 32 year old Australian wave sensation Jason POLAKOW who stormed to victory.

As the final preparations were being made for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, the International Olympic Committee announced on 18 May the shortlist of five candidate cities bidding to host the 2012 Olympic Games - Paris, New York, Moscow, London and Madrid - who were selected from an original nine cities.

On 20 May, ISAF announced funding allocations for the Athlete Participation Programme (APP), which saw 30 sailors and 14 nations financially assisted to participate in the 2004 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship in Poland in July. One of the fundamental concepts of the APP is to give priority to those nations who have not participated in an ISAF Youth World Championship event and in 2004 athletes representing Cuba and Latvia and competed for the first time.

The big news in the Offshore scene was the incredible Round the World record achieved by Steve FOSSETT and his crew aboard Cheyenne and the claiming of the Jules Verne Trophy by Geronimo. In other news, Ellen MACARTHUR announced that she would be attempting the Single-handed west-east Transatlantic Record, an All-American Volvo Ocean Race syndicate was announced, the Transat start was cancelled due to extreme weather and then started and Chay BLYTH's fleet of 72ft Challenge yachts set off to race around Britain and Ireland. Numerous race weeks were also taking place around the world, including the China Sea Race, BVI Spring Regatta, Antigua Race Week, Bermuda Race Week, Koh Samui Week, Hog's Breath Race Week to name a few.

A host of other World Championships took place in April and May with World Champions crowned in the following classes:

Laser Radial Open - Michael BLACKBURN (AUS)
Laser Radial Women - Krystal WEIR (AUS)
Vaurien Open - Javier PORTO & Alberto MARTIN (ESP)
Vaurien Junior - Roelof KUIPERS & Jelmer KUIPERS (NED)
Laser Radial Youth Boy - Jean Baptiste BERNAZ (FRA)
Laser Radial Youth Girl - Cecilia CARRANZA SAROLI (ARG)
Hobie 16 Women - Pamela NORIEGA and Martha NORIEGA (MEX)
Hobie 16 Youth - Jerome LEGAL and Vaik DELEVAUX (FRA)
Hobie 16 Open - Axel SILVY & Pauline JUPIN (FRA)
J22 - Alec CUTLER, Max SKELLY, Paul MURPHY (USA)
Laser Master - Colin DIBB (AUS)
Click Here for all the News from the ISAF Website for April and May
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