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24 May 2005, 01:16 pm
Olympic Classes Meet Again
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Holland Regatta 2005
Medemblik, Holland

With the European sailing season in full swing over 800 elite sailors from around the globe are gathering in Medemblik, Holland, for the 21st ISAF Grade 1 Holland (formerly Spa) Regatta where racing starts today.
After the first European ISAF Grade 1 Olympic classes event in Hyères, France last month, the Holland Regatta gives the sailors gathering in Medemblik another opportunity to gain significant points to lift them up the Rankings, when the ISAF World Sailing Rankings are next released on 1 June. Racing is due to start today and continue through the week coming to a conclusion on Sunday. Amongst the fleets, former Spa winners, Olympic and World Champions line up against the current leaders of the ISAF World Sailing Rankings and the on form sailors who already have wins in European regattas this year, including Hyères and the ISAF Grade 2 Princess Sofia Trophy and Expert Olympic Garda.

For sailors in the 49er, Tornado and the men's and women's 470, a new experimental race format will present a different challenge. If six races are completed by Saturday the top six teams in each fleet will sail in a semi final comprising of short races, with the top three remaining boats competing for the podium positions. This differs from the usual eleven races and one discard format, as ISAF searches for a new and exciting format to use at the 2008 Olympic Games.

Finn

The Finn class will see the return of current Olympic champion, Ben AINSLIE (GBR). AINSLIE has been sailing with America's Cup challengers Emirates Team New Zealand in the America's Cup and this will be his first return to competition in the Finn since Athens as he begins campaigning for the 2008 Olympics. AINSLIE is in for a tough ride with recent winner of the ISAF Grade 1 Semaine Olympique Française and ISAF Grade 2 Princess Sofia Trophy, Emilios PAPATHANASIOU (GRE). The Finn class in Hyères was decided in a race off format, meaning PAPATHANASIOU has prior experience off the new format - experience that could well prove vital in such a competitive fleet.

Laser Radial

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SUNDBY won in the Europe last
year but will be competing in
the 470 this time round
© Peter Bentley
The Laser Radial class currently has 69 entries, including current ISAF World Sailing Rankings' number one Keamia RASA (CAN). She will be challenged by Hyères winner Sophie DE TURCKHEIM (FRA), 2003 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Champion, Paige RAILEY (USA) and Australia's former Rankings' number one, Krystal WEIR. Rivals since RAILEY narrowly edged out WEIR to take the Youth Worlds title back in 2003, the pair have not competed in as many regattas as the likes of RASA, but are so far unbeaten in every ISAF Graded event they have entered in the Radial. Medemblik pits them against each other in senior Radial competition for the first time.

Laser

With 135 boats entered in the men's Laser fleet the competition for the top slots will be intense. Athens Olympian and new ISAF World Sailing Rankings' leader, Paul GOODISON (GBR) and will be looking to get some good results to protect his number one slot. Olympic bronze medallist and winner here last year, Vasilij ZBOGAR (SLO), is right behind him in the Rankings and after a second place in the recent ISAF Grade 2 Expert Olympic Garda on Lake Garda, another good result could see the Slovenian claim the top spot on the next release of the ISAF World Sailing Rankings' on 1 June. Both though could be put in the shade by Australian Tom SLINGSBY. After winning his first ever ISAF Graded Event in Hyères, the 20 year old went on to repeat the feat in Italy with victory on Lake Garda and will be looking to carry his winning form over to the Netherlands.

49er

The 49er class, introduced to the Holland Regatta in 1997, should prove an interesting class to watch. Back from a winter sabbatical, this will be the first ISAF Graded 49er event that ISAF World Sailing Rankings' number ones, Chris DRAPER and Simon HISCOCKS (GBR) have attended since they won the bronze medal at the Athens Olympic Games. They will face stiff German competition in the shape of Hyères winners and runners up, Jan-Peter PECKOLT and brother, Hannes (GER) and Marcus BAUR and Max GROY (GER).

Yngling

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AYTON will be aiming to repeat
the success she had when crewing
for Shirley ROBERSTON
© Peter Bentley
Sarah AYTON's progress at the helm of the Yngling was confirmed by her team's second place in Hyères and she will be hoping to go one better in Medemblik, especially with Hyères' winners, the American crew of Sally BARKOW (USA), currently not on the Yngling entry list. Even with the absence of BARKOW the Olympic gold medallist will still be facing plenty of tough competition, not least the team of the leading helm on the ISAF World Sailing Rankings, Kristin WAGNER (GER), who won last year's competition.

Tornado

The Tornado fleet does see Hyères winners, Xavier REVIL and Christophe ESPAGNON (FRA), in the lineup along with number three in the ISAF World Sailing Rankings, Fernando ECHAVARRI and Anton PAZ (ESP).

Star

Mateusz KUSZNIEREWICZ (POL) won here last year in the Finn, but this year lines up in the Star fleet, following in a plethora of successful sailors to make the switch to the keelboat. ISAF World Sailing Rankings' number one Fredrik LÖÖF and current Star World Champion Xavier ROHART (FRA) both previously had successful careers in the single-handed dinghy and they will be just two of the competitors KUSZNIEREWICZ will be up against. Robert STANJEK (GER) will be going into the regatta with plenty of confidence after victory in last week's ISAF Grade C1 Star Eastern Hemisphere Championship.

470 men

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ZANDONA will be aiming to
make up for his disappointing
finish in Hyères
© Peter Bentley
ISAF World Sailing Rankings' number ones Gabrio ZANDONA and Francesco DELLA TORRE (ITA) will face off against Gideon KLIGER and Ehud GAL (ISR), winners in Hyères, where the Italians could only manage 15th place. Alvaro MARINHO and Miguel NUNES (POR) won here two years ago. At number two in the ISAF World Sailing Rankings a good result for the Portuguese pair could see them leap above ZANDONA and DELLA TORRE and claim the number one spot in the Rankings.

470 women

Siren SUNDBY (NOR) continues her 470 campaign in Medemblik. The 2004 Olympic gold medallist in the Europe has shown steady progress in the double-handed dinghy and entered the 470 ISAF World Sailing Rankings last month at number 65. Ingrid PETITJEAN and Nadège DOUROUX won in Hyères to further enforce their position as ISAF World Sailing Rankings' number ones

Mistral men

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Home hope, VAN DIJK will be
aiming for a repeat of his win
last year
© Peter Bentley

Joeri VAN DIJK (NED) will be sure to get massive home support in his quest to defend the title he won here last year. Challenging him will be Hyères winner and top ten finisher in last week's ISAF Grade W Mistral World Championship Ivan PASTOR (ESP).

Mistral women

Currently there are only 13 entries in the Mistral women fleet, a situation obviously caused by the close proximity of the regatta to the World Championship. However, Flavia TARTAGLINI (ITA), third in the World Championship and CHAN Wai Kei (HKG) and CHAN Wai Man (HKG), both top ten finishers at the Worlds, have their names on the entry list.

ISAF. Image, Close racing in the Lasers at last year's regatta:© Peter Bentley
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