A fleet of 70 men also will compete for their Laser Radial World title simultaneously, and 180 teenagers will contest the World Youth Championships from 7-12 August. In all, 338 sailors from 37 countries will compete in a dozen races each on ocean courses set on Santa Monica Bay on the western edge of greater Los Angeles.
The focus will be on the women, with the Olympics on their minds. Besides RAILEY, the defending champion, the fleet will include three-time winner Katarzyna SZOTYNSKA of Poland (2001, 2002, 2003), currently ranked number 15 in the world, and 2004 champion and current World number four Krystal WEIR of Australia.
They and the others share ambition stated by RAILEY, 'My goal is to represent my country in the 2008 Olympic Games and to one day win an Olympic gold medal.' And: 'I also plan to race in the America's Cup.'
The Laser Radial, with 5.76 square metres of area in its single sail, will join its big brother, the Laser (7.06) when it replaces the Europe as the Women's One Person Dinghy in the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition in Qingdao, China. The Laser became an Olympic Class at Savannah, USA in 1996, but the men in this event will sail Radials without Olympic implications.
With 19 of the world's top 20 women Radial sailors entered, it is likely that all three 2008 Olympic medallists - gold, silver and bronze - will be lurking somewhere in the fleet. And unlike the Olympics, which allow only one competitor from a country in each event, nations will be sending multiple entries, with RAILEY and TUNNICLIFFE just one particularly high flying example. In California, many will be meeting the same national opponents they will have to beat later for a ticket to Qingdao, as well as the international adversaries they will battle there for medals.
RAILEY, 19, of Clearwater, Florida, and TUNNICLIFFE, 23, of Perrysburg, Ohio, have been major forces in the class for the past year, with RAILEY usually on top. Along with Star sailors George SZABO and Eric MONROE, RAILEY is the only American holding a World number one spot, and TUNNICLIFFE is the next best placed of the USA sailors across any of the eleven Olympic events.
RAILEY, barely out of the youth group in 2005, was one of four nominees and the only American, male or female, nominated for the 2005 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards. She moved up to the major level last year without missing a beat. She won the second of two ISAF Youth World titles in July, then the European adult crown a month later, accumulating victories in six of eight events, including the Worlds in Brazil last December and the ISAF World Sailing Games in Austria in May.
'Sailing is my life,' she told ISAF in Austria this May. 'I have sacrificed so much for it. I feel that sailing and I are one. To me, it is truly 'my everything.' It takes me places I have never seen, allows me to experience new feelings and conquer new obstacles. Sailing challenges me in ways that most people never have experienced. My boat is the best friend I have ever had. It's never late, doesn't get sick, won't break my heart and it's there through all of my ups and downs.
'A dear friend of mine. Olivia CERAOIO, died of a rare cancer at such a young age. Before she became sick I took for granted my time sailing on the water, but when she became sick she yearned to be out training again. I learned how precious everything I do is, and how easily everything can be taken away from you. My whole outlook on sailing changed and I try to enjoy and cherish every experience associated with my sailing.'
The Laser Radial Worlds are supported by sponsors Nestlé, producer of Arrowhead Water and PowerBar©; Vanguard Boats, Sailing World Magazine and Body Glove.
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