After a Gold medal in the Tornado class and a some months spent on the Volvo Ocean Race, Fernando Echavari and Antón Paz, have gone separate ways. The Spanish have looked for new challenges in different Olympic classes. While Anton Paz has teamed up with his brother on the 49er, Fernando Echavari has made his move on the Star with Fernando Rodriguez.
"After a combined campaign in both the Tornado and the Volvo, I needed a break. I wanted to race in the Star. It is very technical and I like that. It is a real challenge. We are based in Santander and train near by at the National centre. The Worlds in Brazil were our first regatta, we wanted just to see and learn. We have started to train seriously last month with new coach Tytus Konarzewski, Hyères is only our second regatta."
Echavari will meet Finn Bronze medallist, Guillaume Florent (FRA) on the race course. After an18 months break, Florent has decided to start a campaign for 2012 in the Star. He has teamed up with Pascal Rambeau (Bronze medal in the Star in Athens and double World Champion in 2003 and 2005 with Xavier Rohart.)
"Pascal has a huge knowledge. Crews at his level are very rare. We will have three seasons to reach our level before the Games. It will be hard work but we should make it." explains Florent.
2010 marks the start of a new Olympic challenge for double Gold medallist, Sarah Ayton (GBR). Crowned at the last two Olympics in the Yngling, Ayton has chosen the 470 to try to add a third Gold medal at the London Games. Saskia Clark, double 470 World Champion (2005 and 2007) is bringing her high expertise of the boat to the new British team.
"After thinking really hard about my campaign and experimenting with match racing, it was an easy decision in the end to choose the 470," Ayton explained. "Teaming up with Saskia seemed the most natural route and we are already building up a strong understanding and can't wait to get started on our campaign. In Hyeres, the conditions are going to really test us, but this first year is about building up the relationship and proving ourselves as a team."
Other sailors to have changed classes include Marcelien De koning (NED). The triple World champion and Beijing Silver medallist in the 470 has made a drastic move to the RS:X class, after spending six months travelling around the world. "After the 470 I needed a big change. I had tried the Laser Radial many years ago and was not too keen about it. I was looking for something more challenging, fast and physical. The RS:X was the obvious choice!" The SOF will be the third event this year for de Koning.
After collecting two medals in the Laser, Slovenian Vasilij Zbogar has switched to the Finn and Hyères will be his first major event.
With light and shifty wind predicted for most of the week, the Semaine Olympique Française will be a good test for all these talented sailors.
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