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7 July 2006, 09:40 am
GOODISON Starts European Title Defence
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Laser European Championship 2006
Gdynia, Poland

British sailor and number one in the ISAF World Sailing Rankings Paul GOODISON begins the defence of his European crown today when the ISAF Grade C1 Laser European Championship gets underway in Gdynia, Poland.
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The 28 year old from Rotherham has a clutch of four medals from major Olympic classes regattas this year, including two first places at the ISAF Grade 1 Rolex Miami OCR in January and more recently at the ISAF Grade 1 Kiel Week, Germany, at the end of June.

The World number one GOODISON topped a strong fleet of over 170 boats at Kiel to clinch the title less than two weeks ago and gain a timely confidence boost ahead of the Laser Europeans. There he will be up against some 140 competitors from 38 countries competing in the senior fleet at this six day event.

The Main Contenders

Amongst GOODISON's main rivals for the European crown will be Polish local hero and 2001 champion Maciej GRABOWSKI, the World number two and 2003 champion Vasilij ZBOGAR of Slovenia, and the Portuguese World Champion from 2003, Gustavo LIMA.

Athens Olympic silver medallist Andreas GERITZER (AUT) will be looking to make amends for what has been a disappointing season so far. The ten strong French team will be led by Felix PRUVOT, and runner up in the European standings to GOODISON last year, Mate ARAPOV (CRO) is sure to right amongst the action again.

Amongst the non Europeans racing in Poland, there looks certain to be a strong Aussie challenge with 2000 Olympic silver medallist Michael BLACKBURN (AUS) and ISAF World Sailing Games winner Tom SLINGSBY (AUS) two of the five strong team. Canada's 21 year old Michael LEIGH has also been making rapid progress this year, as has World number three Andrew MURDOCH of New Zealand.

Young British Stars

Together with GOODISON gunning for Skandia Team GBR will be former ISAF Youth World Champions Mark POWELL from Hayling Island, and Lymington's Nick THOMPSON who will have fond memories of Gdynia as the site of his 2004 Youth Worlds triumph. Currently ranked 42nd in the world, the 20 year old THOMPSON recorded his best senior regatta result to date in Kiel last month, where he finished eighth overall, so will certainly be looking to trouble seasoned campaigners once again this week.

Regining Youth Worlds Champion Giles SCOTT, Stephen POWELL, Charles BAILLIE STRONG and Luke BREEN-TURNER complete the seven boat line up for Skandia Team GBR in Poland.

The Laser European Championships comprises a twelve race series, with two races scheduled per day from Friday 7 July through until the Medal Race on Wednesday 12 July.

For all the latest news from the Laser European Championship CLICK HERE.

Lindsey BELL (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Maciej GRABOWSKI can count on plenty of home support:© Dan NERNEY/Rolex
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