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28 June 2007, 06:00 pm
Runners And Riders - Star and Yngling Fleets
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ISAF Sailing World Championships 2007
Cascais, Portugal

The clock is ticking down to the start of the 2007 ISAF Sailing World Championships, with sunny skies and plenty of wind welcoming the Olympic Classes to Cascais, Portugal. Amongst the 900+ boats lining up, the two keelboat fleets present an unrivalled array of Olympic Champions.
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The 40-strong Yngling fleet feature all three of the women's Olympic gold medal winning helms from Athens, whilst in terms of Olympic medallists, the 70+ Star fleet is simply unequalled amongst any of the other Olympic fleets.

The Yngling is relatively new to the Olympic Classes, with Athens the first Olympic Sailing Competition featuring the three person keelboat. In contrast the Star has a long and proud Olympic history. It first appeared at the Los Angeles Games in 1932 and, with the exception of 1976, has been on every Olympic programme since. In both classes the races are longer than the majority of the other fleets with a sharp tactical focus.

A prominent feature of the Star fleet in this Olympiad has been the success of new crews helmed by sailors moving over the single-handed dinghy classes. In the Yngling fleet there is also a definite sense of change when comparing the current leading challengers with the top performers from Athens.

Racing for the Star fleet begins on Tuesday 3 July. Two races are schedule for each day on 3, 4, 5, 7 and 8 July, with the Star Medal Race on 9 July. For the Ynglings, racing begins on Thursday 5 July. Two races are schedule for each day on 5, 6, 7, 9 and 10 July, with the Yngling Medal Race on 11 July.

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Star

The Basics

Event: Men's Keelboat
Equipment: Star
Fleet size: 72
Olympic qualification places: 11
Reigning World Champion: Hamish PEPPER and Carl WILLIAMS (NZL)
Reigning Olympic Champion: Torben GRAEL and Marcelo FERREIRA (BRA)

Leading Challengers

Ones to watch...

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Hamish PEPPER and Carl WILLIAMS on their way to
winning the 2006 Star Worlds
© Jan Pehrson/www.JanPehrson.com

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Mateusz KUSZNIEREWICZ and Dominik ZYCKI
© Otto KASCH/segel-bilder.de

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Robert SCHEIDT and Bruno PRADA
© Thom Touw

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Fredrik LOOF and Anders EKSTROM
© Clive Mason/Getty Images

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Torben GRAEL and Marcelo FERREIRA
© MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images

Hamish PEPPER and Carl WILLIAMS (NZL)

Age: 36 and 25
ISAF World Sailing Ranking: 4
Career Highlights: 2006 World Champions, 2006 North American Champions

After ten years in the Laser fleet, Hamish PEPPER teamed up with Carl WILLIAMS and switched to the Star in 2006. The newly formed Kiwi team met with almost instant success, finishing fifth at their opening regatta in Miami before ending the year with World and North American success. In 2007 the opportunities for the pair to sail together have been limited as WILLIAMS has been involved in the BMW ORACLE Racing team at the America's Cup in Valencia. PEPPER has still posted some impressive results with different crew and when the World Champions team up again they should prove a formidable force in Cascais.

Robert SCHEIDT and Bruno PRADA (BRA)

Age: 34 and 35
ISAF World Sailing Ranking: 3
Career Highlights: 2006 World Championship silver medallists, 2007 Star Eastern Hemisphere Champions; SCHEIDT - 1996, 2004 Laser Olympic Champion, 2000 Laser Olympic silver medallist, 2005, 2004, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1997, 1996, 1995 Laser World Champion

After ten years of domination in the Laser fleet, ending with his eighth World Championship title in 2005, Robert SCHEIDT decided to set his sights on a Star campaign for Qingdao. It was a brave move by the yellow-capped Brazilian, as he was still dominant in the Laser fleet and was setting himself up for a battle against 1996 and 2004 Olympic Champion in the Star, Torben GRAEL (BRA). So far though SCHEIDT and PRADA's performances have vindicated the decision, with the Brazilians consistently featuring on the podium at the top regattas.

Mateusz KUSZNIEREWICZ and Dominik ZYCKI (POL)

Age: 32 and 33
ISAF World Sailing Ranking: 2
Career Highlights: 2005 Kiel Week winner; KUSZNIEREWICZ - 1996 Finn Olympic Champion, 2004 Finn Olympic bronze medallist

KUSZNIEREWICZ is amongst a string of competitors who have made the switch from a single-hander to the Star class in this Olympiad. He and ZYCKI have now been sailing together in the Star fleet for over two years and have already made a big impression on the class.

Xavier ROHART and Pascal RAMBEAU (FRA)

Age: 38 and 35
ISAF World Sailing Ranking: 1
Career Highlights: 2005, 2003 World Champions, 2004 Olympic bronze medallists

The French duo are rarely out of the running in the major Star events, although the start of their 2007 season has been more consistent than spectacular.

Fredrik LOOF and Anders EKSTROM (SWE)

Age: 37 and 26
ISAF World Sailing Ranking: 6
Career Highlights: 2004 World Champions; LOOF - 2001 Star World Champion, 2000 Finn Olympic bronze medallist

The Swedish Star team are rarely out of the running in the big regattas. Have started this season strongly with wins at the Western Hemisphere Championship and, most impressively, against a top-class fleet at the Rolex Miami OCR.

Team USA

Age: N/A
ISAF World Sailing Ranking: From 9-40
Career Highlights: REYNOLDS - 2000, 1992 Olympic Champion

The USA have seven entries in the Star fleet in Cascais and everyone of them could challenge for the title. Mark REYNOLDS and Hal HAENEL won Olympic gold in Barcelona in 1992 (REYNOLDS won again in 2000 with Magnus LILJEDAHL). LILJEDAHL has now teamed up with George SZABO and is currently the top American team on the ISAF World Sailing Rankings, whilst Andy HORTON and Brad NICHOL (USA) won last year's Olympic Test Event.

Torben GRAEL and Marcelo FERREIRA (BRA)

Age: 46 and 41
ISAF World Sailing Ranking: 95
Career Highlights: 2004, 1996 Olympic Champions, 2000 Olympic bronze medallists, 1990 World Champions

GRAEL has more Olympic medals than any other sailor, with two gold and two bronze medals in the Star and a silver in the Soling. Over the past ten years he and FERREIRA have been a dominant force in Olympic Star sailing, although recently GRAEL's other sailing exploits in the Volvo Ocean Race and America's Cup have massively reduced their time on the Olympic Class circuit.

Outside Bets

Diego NEGRI and Luigi VIALE (ITA)

Age: 36 and 28
ISAF World Sailing Ranking: 7
Career Highlights: 2006 European Champions

NEGRI switched from the Laser to the Star for this Olympiad and together with VIALE has formed a strong Italian crew. They are the reigning European Champions and go to Cascais on a high after winning the Breitling Regatta.

Afonso DOMINGOS and Bernardo SANTOS (POR)

Age: 37 and 26
ISAF World Sailing Ranking: 8
Career Highlights: 2005 World Championship eighth place

Having graduated from the Laser and 49er classes, DOMINGOS moved to the Star in 2001 but missed out on the 2004 Olympics. He and SANTOS seemed a little off the boil last year, but have started 2007 strongly and could be a major force on their home waters.

Iain PERCY and Andrew SIMPSON (GBR)

Age: 32 and 31
ISAF World Sailing Ranking: 37
Career Highlights: PERCY - 2002 Star World Champion, 2000 Finn Olympic Champion

The recently formed British Star team have had limited time together after PERCY split with long time crew Steve MITCHELL at the start of this year. Since then the new team's appearances have been limited by PERCY's involvement with the +39 America's Cup challenge. As the only British Star team there is little room for error as they aim to secure one of the 11 national places at the Beijing Olympics.

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Yngling

The Basics

Event: Women's Keelboat
Equipment: Yngling
Fleet size: 40
Olympic qualification places: 10
Reigning World Champion: Monica AZON, Sandra AZON and Graciela PISONERO (ESP)
Reigning Olympic Champion: Shirley ROBERTSON, Sarah WEBB and Sarah AYTON (GBR)

Leading Challengers

Ones to watch...

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Monica AZON, Sandra AZON and Graciela PISONERO
© Dan Nerney/Rolex

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Sarah AYTON, Sarah WEBB and Pippa WILSON
© onEdition

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Sally BARKOW, Carrie HOWE and Debbie CAPOZZI
© Walter Cooper/Rolex

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Anna BASALKINA, Vlada UKRAINTSEVA and
Ekaterina MAXIMOVA
© Thom Touw

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Renee GROENEVELD, Marije FABER and Floortje HENDRIKSEN
© Thom Touw

Monica AZON, Sandra AZON and Graciela PISONERO (ESP)

Age: 36, 35 and 24
ISAF World Sailing Ranking: 6
Career Highlights: 2006, 2002 World Champions

The reigning World Champions and one of the most experienced crews in the Yngling fleet. This year they have yet to rediscover the form which won them the World and European titles in 2006.

Ulrike SCHUEMANN, Ute HOEPFNER and Julia BLECK (GER)

Age: 34, 27 and 22
ISAF World Sailing Ranking: 1
Career Highlights: 2006, 2003, 2002 World Championship silver medallists

Consistency is the watchword with German Yngling crew, who have hit the top spot in the Yngling World Rankings this year. Despite having two World Championship silver medals to her name (with Wibke BUELLE and Winnie LIPPERT), SCHUEMANN missed out on the 2004 Olympic spot to Kristin WAGNER (GER). Since teaming up with HOEPFNER and BLECK she has added her third Worlds silver medal in 2006.

Sally BARKOW, Carrie HOWE and Debbie CAPOZZI (USA)

Age: 26, 26 and 25
ISAF World Sailing Ranking: 2
Career Highlights: 2005 World Champions

BARKOW and her team have probably been the most consistent performers at the top Yngling regattas over the past two years. As well as winning the Yngling Worlds in 2005 and finishing third last year, they are also double ISAF Women's Match Racing World Champions and have demonstrated their ability in tight Medal Race situations on numerous occasions.

Sarah AYTON, Sarah WEBB and Pippa WILSON (GBR); Shirley ROBERTSON, Annie LUSH and Lucy MACGREGOR (GBR)

Age: 27, 30 and 21; 38, 27 and 20
ISAF World Sailing Ranking: 4; 36
Career Highlights: ROBERTSON, AYTON and WEBB - 2004 Olympic Champions

After winning gold in Athens in 2004, Shirley ROBERTSON, Sarah AYTON and Sarah WEBB (GBR) split, with AYTON helming a new British challenge whilst ROBERTSON took time off, giving birth to twins last year. Now ROBERTSON is back and on the trail of her third Olympic gold medal (she also won gold in the single-handed Europe dinghy in 2000). However, so far it is AYTON's crew who have led the way, finishing on the podium at every regatta they have entered this year.

Team Russia

Age: N/A
ISAF World Sailing Ranking: 3; 5; 10
Career Highlights: ILIENKO - 2005 World Championship bronze medallist

The Russian Yngling teams present a formidable challenge in Cascais, with all three currently holding an ISAF World Sailing Ranking in the top ten. Ekaterina SKUDINA led the Russian team to an eighth place finish at the Olympic Games in Athens two years ago, but since then Anna BASALKINA and her crew have upped their game to climb up to #3 in the World Rankings, whilst Vlada ILIENKO has had almost instant success after moving from the 470.

Team Netherlands

Age: N/A
ISAF World Sailing Ranking: 9-29
Career Highlights: MULDER - 2006 Olympic Test Event winner

Four teams form a formidable Dutch line up in the Yngling fleet at Cascais. Amongst them, helm Mandy MULDER was impressive winning the Olympic Test Event last year and recently finished second at the Breitling Regatta. Renee GROENEVELD (NED) was just behind her in third place at Medemblik, whilst Janneke HIN (NED) has also impressed at the helm over the last year.

Outside Bets

Silja LEHTINEN, Maria KLEMETZ and Livia VARESMAA (FIN)

Age: 21, 31 and 31
ISAF World Sailing Ranking: 24
Career Highlights: 2007 Rolex Miami OCR fourth place

Silja LEHTINEN and her crew are new arrivals on the Yngling scene, having just launched their Olympic campaign at the start of this year. At just 21, LEHTINEN is already a World Champion in the 29er skiff and has demonstrated her potential in the Yngling fleet with a series of eye-opening performances this year.

Siren SUNDBY, Lise Birgitte FREDRIKSEN and Alexandra KOEFOED (NOR)

Age: 24, 27 and 29
ISAF World Sailing Ranking: 30
Career Highlights: 2007 North Americans seventh place; SUNDBY - 2004 Europe Olympic Champion

After two World Championship titles and an Olympic gold medal in the single-handed Europe, SUNDBY took an extended break from the Olympic Classes and for a time looked set to miss out on Beijing altogether. An opening at the helm of the Norwegian Yngling drew her back into the fold and since then the team have improved steadily without yet troubling the fleet's very top performers.

Sofia BEKATOROU, Sofia PAPADOPOULOU and Christina HARAMOUNTA (GER)

Age: 29, 23 and 20
ISAF World Sailing Ranking: 33
Career Highlights: 2007 Breitling Regatta eighth place; BEKATOROU - 2004 470 Olympic Champion

Following four consecutive World titles (2000-2003) and then Olympic glory on her home waters, Sofia BEKATOROU left the 470 class after Athens. After an extended break she returned to the Olympic Classes in the Yngling. Despite injury hampering her preparations this year, BEKATOROU and her team impressed at the recent Breitling Regatta.

About The 2007 ISAF Worlds

The 2007 ISAF Sailing World Championships will take place 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.

All Media wishing to attend the Championships will require accreditation. On-site accreditations only will be available after 31 May.

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

ISAF. Image:© Clive Mason/Getty Images
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