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8 July 2007, 04:11 pm
World Champion In The Waiting?
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ISAF Sailing World Championships 2007
Cascais, Portugal

For many sailors here in Cascais, Greek sailor Emilios PAPATHANASIOU is highly tipped to take the Finn title this week at the ISAF Sailing World Championships. As the most experienced and medalled sailor in the fleet, one would already have expected him to have won a world title but it has continued to elude him time after time. However, he is undoubtedly the best sailor in recent years never to have won a World Championship. Could this be his year?
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He sailed his first Olympics in 1996 in Savannah, USA and did so badly that he went home and started to train immediately. This was rewarded the following year with a top ten at the Finn Gold Cup in Gdansk and a third place finish at the European Championships in Split. Since then PAPATHANASIOU has been a force to be reckoned with at every major regatta, but an Olympic medal and a World Championship title have always evaporated in front of him. His only major success was in becoming the 2001 European Champion.

However, between 2000 and 2002 he took the bronze medal at the Finn Gold Cup three times in a row, behind the likes of Mateusz KUSZNIEREWICZ (POL), Sebastien GODEFROID (BEL) and Ben AINSLIE (GBR). He returned to the podium in 2005 again behind AINSLIE, losing the title on the final sailed race. In 2006, he again took the silver medal within a whisker of Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN (DEN).

Cascais

Results
49er
Men's 470
Women's 470
Finn
Laser
Laser Radial
Men's RS:X
Women's RS:X
Star
Tornado
Yngling

PAPATHANASIOU started his 2007 attempt here in Cascais on Thursday, with two confident race wins in the tricky conditions. Then, as so many times before it seemed to go wrong on Friday. He said: 'I had a bad race on Friday in awful conditions - no wind one side, 15 knots the other, 60 degrees shifts, free pumping, no free pumping. I finished 12th. But it has happened now so I look forward keep going and try to discard it.' In yesterday's extreme conditions he placed second and third to move back into the lead.

'You need to be careful in those conditions. Sometimes I think I should try to push my boat to the limit. But then you have chance to capsize or damage something and as we are only just starting this World Championship, sometimes it pays to be careful.'

Emilios PAPATHANASIOU competing in
Cascais
© PTVela2007/JFF
On second overall Pieter-Jan POSTMA (NED), he said: 'PJ is sailing very well and is showing good form. He proved he's fast in a breeze. He's very good technically, probably one of the best in the fleet. However the points are close so everyone is still in the game. Anyone in top 10 can easily take the medals and I think this is very good for sport and for those watching . I think this is very nice. I hope and I'm sure that the next four races are very enjoyable and interesting for people to watch.'

Racing

On his preferred conditions: 'I prefer to have all types of conditions. Some sailors go really fast in one condition. For me I can survive and get top places in strong winds as well as light winds. This is good and proves why in the last 12 years I have won nine medals in Finn Gold Cup and European Championships. I am very confident in all conditions.'

On the series so far: 'The top is all very close. Many sailors are still very much in the game. I think the mental race is more technical than physical though and will depend much on experience. Then the Medal Race itself is very tough. You need to concentrate a lot. When the medal comes close the legs are heavy and the heart beats faster. Here experience can help more than in some other sports. This can make the difference between winning and losing.'

On the Finn: 'The Finn class once again has some really good sailors. This makes the Finn one of the favourite classes in sailing and why since 1952 it has been in the Olympic games, and I'm sure in the future. The Finn embodies the spirit of sailing.'

Priorities

On the Olympic Test Event (next month) being so close to the ISAF Sailing World Championships: 'For sure it is a breezy venue here, and maybe it will be light winds for Qingdao. Has this regatta wrecked some sailors chances of performing well in Qingdao because they have prepared for a windy regatta here? No I don't think so. If you want to be top sportsman and top sailor you must be good in all conditions. Who knows what will happen? In Qingdao we could easily have some days of strong winds and big waves. In 2006 almost 40 per cent of regatta was like this, so if you are not ready for everything you have no chance of winning a medal.'

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At the 2004 Olympics
© Menahem Kahana/AFP/
Getty Images
On what winning the Finn Gold Cup would mean to him: 'This is the World Championship, it is the most important regatta of the year. Of course everyone wants to win. But this year is an exception. My first priority here is to quality the country for 2008, because next year the Finn Gold Cup is in January in Melbourne, just seven months away from the Games in August. That means it will be hard to prepare my body and my priorities in both January and August. So I want to finish here with a good result, qualify the country, then go to Qingdao for the Test Event. And then after that I will only focus on preparing for the Olympic Games.'

On the Gold fleet racing: 'I will keep sailing much the same as I have been. Of course there will be more key sailors on the start line so some parts will be tougher. The key will be to concentrate on the wind, which is off the land, so there are many shifts to look out for. I will keep trying to be consistently in the top four, keep going bit by bit, point by point. Of course sometimes when I see it is possible to push the limit I do so, but under control.'

Racing for the Finn class here in Cascais resumes Monday at 13:00 after a lay day today, Sunday. PAPATHANASIOU currently leads POSTMAby one point with Rafael TRUJILLO (ESP) another two points back. There are only 14 points separating the top ten, so the initial gold fleet races could be a crucial decider in the 2007 Finn Gold Cup.

About The 2007 ISAF Worlds

Over 1,300 sailors from 76 nations are competing at the 2007 ISAF Sailing World Championships, from 28 June-13 July in Cascais, Portugal. 'The Wind Is Calling' is the official motto for the 2007 Worlds. The Championships are the principal qualification regatta for the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition, with 75% of all national places to be decided.

Watch the Medal Races live on Sail.TV

Read our fleet by fleet reports by clicking on the links below:

Finn - Tornado - Yngling - Star - 49er - 470s - Lasers - RS:Xs

For all the news on the ISAF Sailing World Championships 2007 CLICK HERE.

ISAF. Image, Emilios PAPATHANASIOU:© Robert Deaves, IFA
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