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30 November 2005, 03:44 pm
Exciting Line Up For First Worlds As An Olympic Class
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Laser Radial World Championship 2005
Fortaleza, Brazil

Since becoming the new Olympic equipment for the Women's One Person Dinghy event, the Laser Radial has seen an influx of new talent and a transfer of old hands from the Europe. From 2-9 December, Fortaleza, Brazil will host the first World Championship for the new bunch of Olympic hopefuls, with a truly global fleet encompassing all continents and 78 sailors from 32 nations battling for the World title.
Krystal WEIR (AUS) will defend her title, but a top class fleet featuring all the top ten from the ISAF World Sailing Rankings and all the winners from this year's ISAF Grade 1 and Grade C1 events, the young Australian looks set to be stretched to the limit.

Scene Set For New Olympic Hopefuls

Olympic Champion in the Europe Siren SUNDBY (NOR) has switched to the 470, silver medallist Lenka SMIDOVA (CZE) has also been racing in the two handers and match racing and bronze medallist Signe LIVBJERG (DEN) is another name missing from the entry list after she endured a torrid time at the ISAF Grade C1 European Championship in Split, Croatia.

The racing in Split also proved a tough test for WEIR, who could only manage 15th place overall and just two finishes in the top three. However, the Australian is far more at home in the stronger conditions expected in Fortaleza, where she will be aiming to set right her disappointing performances in Europe.

The Favourites

Paige RAILEY (USA) dominated in Split to add another gold to an already medal strewn year which included her win at the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship. With the absence of the Olympic medallists, and after RAILEY's dominant form this year which has seen her rise to the top of the Rankings, she will start the racing in Fortaleza as favourite.

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Sophie DE TURCKHEIM is back
for the Worlds after missing
out at the Europeans due to a
broken foot
© Mark Cole
However, if there is one sailor the American has yet to gain the upper hand on this year it is France's Sophie DE TURCKHEIM. She produced a dominating display to win the ISAF Grade 1 Semaine Olympique Française and then went on to win the ISAF Grade 1 Holland Regatta where RAILEY could only finish seventh. DE TURCKHEIM missed out in Split after breaking her left foot just days before the Europeans, but is back on the entry list for Brazil where she will be aiming to recapture the form she showed at the start of the European season.

Strong Teams

The success of Canadian sailors has been a strong feature of the Laser Radial world so far this year and a strong challenge looks likely in Brazil. Former holder of the top spot in the Rankings Keamia RASA (CAN) is one of seven Canadian entrants, along with World number two Magalie BONNEAU-MARCIL (CAN), ISAF Grade C1 Laser North American Champion and World number four Jennifer SPALDING (CAN) and ISAF Grade 1 CORK Regatta winner and World number five Lisa ROSS (CAN).

Only Great Britain send a larger team than the Canadians, with eight sailors led by World number three Lizzie VICKERS (GBR) and ISAF Youth Worlds bronze medallist Alison YOUNG (GBR).

The presence of China's Xu LIJIA means all three medallists from this year's ISAF Youth Worlds feature on the entry list. The young Chinese sailor produced a superb display in Korea to challenge RAILEY right to the wire, less than a fortnight after having first sailed in a Radial. Europe World Champion Shen XIAOYING (CHN) completes the Chinese team, and with five Japanese sailors entered, the Asian challenge in Brazil looks set to be strong.

Home Challenge

ISAF Grade C1 Laser Radial Central And South American Champion Adriana KOSTIW (BRA) leads the home challenge in Fortaleza, and has shown good form in the lead up, finishing top woman in the Radial at the ISAF Grade 3 Laser South Brazilian Championship in Florianópolis this month. Five other Brazilians join KOSTIW, a great turnout for a nation which did not compete in the Europe in Athens.

Finland's Sari MULTALA is one
of the big names to make the
switch from the Europe
© Oscar Pipkin/AFP/
Getty Images
With two sailors coming from Argentina and Venezuela and Mexico also represented by former World number four and their Europe Olympic representative in Athens Tania ELIAS CALLES, the South Americans also look set to mount a significant attack on the trophy.

Making The Switch

Other former Europe sailors who have made the transition to the Radial after appearing at the last Olympics include Sari MULTALA (FIN) - fifth in Athens and third at the Radial Europeans - Virginia KRAVARIOTI (GRE), Petra NIEMANN (GER), Larissa NEVIEROV (ITA), Laura BALDWIN (GBR) and Natalia IVANOVA (RUS).

2004 ISAF Youth World Champion and current Laser Radial European Champion (as the first European behind RAILEY) Sarah STEYAERT (FRA) is also sure to start as one of the title front runners, as will ISAF Grade 1 Kieler Woche winner Gintarė VOLUNGEVIČIŪTĖ (LTU).

Earlier in the year, Fortaleza provided the Lasers with near ideal windy conditions for their World Championship and predictions are for more of the same next week. After a gold first year on the senior circuit, RAILEY will start as favourite in Brazil, but with so many challenges coming from a large and diverse fleet, this year's Laser Radial World Championship looks set to be a fascinating event.

ISAF. Image, Paige RAILEY looks set to lead the charge at the Laser Radial Worlds:© Peter Bentley
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