Starting in Spain this weekend, 36 of the World's best Women Yngling teams will do battle in their World Championship and final Olympic Qualification Regatta for the Athens Olympic Games.
Nineteen nations are represented, 12 of which have already gained an entry to the Olympic Games, including Greece as the host nation. In Santander, there is the opportunity for a further four places to be granted, three from the original qualification criteria and a further one place granted following the amendment to the qualification quotas on March 15 2004.
Current qualified nations are as follows:
Canada, Norway, Columbia, New Zealand, Japan, the Netherlands and Sweden will all be pushing hard for Olympic qualification. For Columbia, represented in Spain by the crew of Loreana JACOB, Jessica JACOB and Paula DOUAT,
if they are successful in their campaign, the Yngling will be the only class they are represented in at the Olympic Sailing Competition.
Norway, who have sailors representing them in the 49er, Europe, Laser and Mistral Women will add a further string to their bow if successful in qualifying and have two crews at the Worlds who can barely be separated in the rankings. Carolina TOLL
, Karianne UNDRUM, and Nina ANDREASSEN; and Karianne EIKELAND
, Beate KRISTIANSEN, and Lise Birgitte FREDIRKSEN are 31 and 32 respectively.
Canada also has two crews, Lisa ROSS
, Deirdre CRAMPTON and Chantal LEGER; and Felicity CLARKE,
Martha HENDERSON and Kari MacKAY, both up there fighting for the right to represent their nation at the Olympics. They are both in the top 40 of the ISAF World Sailing Rankings, and if Canada successfully qualify, will have a tough nomination battle on their hands.
As well as qualification, sailors are competing for the accolade of 2004 World Champion and all the top ranked sailors are capable of winning the title. Shirley ROBERTSON
(GBR), Sarah AYTON, and Sarah WEBB are in form since taking delivery of a new boat and their victory at Semaine Olympique Française stands them in good stead to take the World title for the first time.
(GER), Wibke BUELLE and Winnie LIPPERT, silver medallists in the 2003 ISAF World Championships, will be hoping to go one better than last year in Cadiz, whilst Dorte JENSEN, ranked number one in the ISAF World Sailing Rankings, and bronze medallist in Cadiz, can never be discounted, neither of course, can the USA's representative in Athens, Carol CRONIN.
(NED), Annemieke BES and Petronella de JONG, who are yet to qualify as a nation in the class for Athens, are on top form though, and are looking like they may be able to win the World Championship and grab Olympic qualification in one regatta.
(USA), last year's World Champion, is not here in Santander so at least one thing can be certain - there will be a new Women's World Champion in a few days time.
Measurement is currently underway and racing starts on Monday for the Olympic Class fleet and concludes next Saturday 18 May. A full entry list and full results will be available on the event website at the address below.