New World Ranking Leaders in six of the eleven events and the coming months should bring some interesting clues as to who is planning what for the next Olympic Games in 2008. Already, there are several big names who has swopped classes...
Single-handed dinghy open - Finn
There was only one event in the Finn which had sufficient participants to qualify for ranking points, the ISAF Grade 1 Rolex Miami OCR. As with many of the elite level sailors who competed at the 2004 Olympic Sailing Competition, Rafael TRUJILLO VILLAR (ESP) has not sailed at an ISAF Graded event since then. However, this has not stopped him climbing to the top of the Finn rankings for the first time in his career. Trujillo, who won a silver medal in Athens, goes up one place to the top spot where he resides just 26 points ahead of Karlo KURET (CRO) in second. Third place is 2004 Olympic bronze medallist Mateusz KUSZNIERWICZ (POL), with gold medallist Ben AINSLIE (GBR) in fourth.
The winner of the ISAF Grade 1 Rolex Miami OCR Chris COOK (CAN) remains at number 22 in the rankings. The USA's Olympic representative in the class Kevin HALL finishing second in Miami and subsequently climbs three places to number 24. There is only minor jostling for position further down the ranking list which now totals 350 sailors. There are two new entries to the top 100, Phil TATE (USA) at number 86 and Jorge RODRIGUES at number 100.
Single-handed dinghy men - Laser
It's not easy to keep Robert SCHEIDT (BRA) from the top of the Laser Rankings for long and today, seven time world champion and ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year 2004 returns to the number one position. Scheidt has not fallen below number two since July 2003 and his supremacy in this class is undeniable. The question for the future however, is whether Scheidt will stay in the Laser or whether he will be making the transition to the two person keelboat, the Star for the 2008 Olympic Games - take a look a the report on the Star below for more news!
Scheidt returns to the top despite not having competed in any of the six events that are contributing to this ranking release. Paul GOODISON (GBR) and Michael BLACKBURN (AUS) who complete the new top three have also not competed in any events since the 2004 Olympic Sailing Competition but have such a good cushion of points that they remain at the top of the rankings.
Four ISAF Grade 1, one Grade 2 and two Grade 3 events with enough competitors to count have taken place since the last ranking release back in December 2004 and there are subsequently numerous changes of position in the Laser list. There is plenty of movement in the top twenty but no significant changes and no new sailors, the biggest mover is Roope SUOMALAINEN (FIN) who climbs from 19 to 14 after finishing first at Sail Melbourne and third the Sydney International Regatta.
Further down the rankings, there are many sailors who have picked up valuable ranking points in the absence of many of the top players in this class. Michael BULLOT (NZL) for example has shot up to number 45 from 60. Bullot finished second at both the Sydney International Regatta and the Australian Nationals and combined with a fifth at Sail Melbourne, this youngster who narrowly missed out on a medal at the 2001 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship, is going to be a name to watch in the 2uture.
There are now 925 sailors on the Laser Rankings with five making their debuts inside the top 100. The most notable climbers here are David WRIGHT (CAN), who adds the points from top ten finishes at three ISAF Grade 1 events to shoot up 135 places to number 83, and Henrik BOQUIST (SWE) whose meteoric rise of 152 places to 102 is due to him competing at three Grade 1 events and now having five events to count. The other entrants to the top 100 are James SMITH (GBR), Thomas HACKLIN (FIN) and Alp ALPAGUT (TUR) who are at 94 and 99= respectively. The highest new entry is Blair MCKAY (NZL) at number 148.
Single-handed dinghy women - Laser Radial
The first ISAF World Sailing Ranking for the Laser Radial class sees 55 women contending for ranking points, more than half of whom have jumped across from the Europe fleet. Selected as the equipment for the Single-handed Dinghy Women event at the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition in Beijing, it will be particularly interesting over the next few months to see which of the other top level Europe sailors will make the switch to the Laser Radial and begin a new Olympic campaign.
In this issue of the rankings, there are four events counting points, the Australian Laser Championships (1), Rolex Miami OCR (1), Christmas Race (2) and the Laser Europa Cup and Youth Grand Prix (3).
With two events carrying equal points the Australian Laser Championships and Rolex Miami OCR, it is not surprising to see that the first release of the rankings in very much a shared affair with the sailors in equivalent positions across the two events, sharing the equivalent place on the rankings. Congratulations to Krystal WEIR (AUS) who won the Australian Laser Championship and Paige RAILEY (USA) who won Rolex Miami OCR who are equal first. Behind them it is the respective second place finishers at each event, with Jo ALEH (NZL) and Anna TUNNICLIFFE (USA), followed in third by the respective third place finishers Miranda POWRIE (NZL) and Lenka SMIDOVA (CZE).
Looking at the past form of these sailors, they are a very young crowd and many are protégés from the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship and used to carrying the flags of their nation. Krystal WEIR won silver in the Laser Radial at the 2003 ISAF Youth Worlds, and is the defending Laser Radial Women's World Champion - certainly a force to be reckoned with. Her main contender at this stage, Paige RAILEY (USA) is a youngster with phenomenal potential, who has won medals at two ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships, a Gold in 2003 and bronze in 2002.
Third equal, Jo ALEH (NZL) has competed in two ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship, winning the Silver Medal in 2004, improving on her sixth place from 2003.
Equal in fifteenth are Jen SPALDING (CAN) and Lyndall PATTERSON (AUS). Jen's most significant international success was Gold at the 2002 ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship in the Byte Class, whilst Lyndall was one of the few women who had earned a world ranking in the Laser Open fleet.
In at 40 is Charlotte DOBSON (GBR) who won the bronze medal at the 2004 ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship, and a fifth in 2003. Charlotte's win at the ISAF Grade 2 Palamos Christmas Race provided her entry on the ISAF World Sailing Rankings. Just behind Charlotte at the 2004 Youth Worlds was Gea BARBIC (CRO) in fourth, and her second place at the Laser Europa Cup enters her on the rankings at 55.
Those seasoned Olympic campaigners making the transition to the Laser Radial, Lenka SMIDOVA (CZE), the silver medallist in Athens who finished third at Rolex Miami OCR, and Germany's Petra NIEMANN who enters at 42. after a third at Palamos Christmas Race. At the last ranking of the Europe on 2 September 2004, Niemann and Smidova were at three and four respectively.
There are no sailors who are counting results from more than one event at this stage, so the next ranking releases on 4 and 30 March should be interesting. As the racing calendar gets busier, expect a significant increase from the current 13 countries on the rankings.
Double-handed dinghy men - 470
There is a new number one in the Men's 470 rankings and four more events that count towards this ranking. Gabrio ZANDONA and Andrea TRANI (ITA) the 2003 World Champions have moved up to the number one spot but their lead is a precarious one. Just ten points behind them are Olympic gold medallists Paul FOERSTER and Kevin BURNHAM (USA) who climb two places to number two. Also climbing two places are Alvaro MARINHO and Miguel NUNES (POR) who now rest at number three. Previous number one duo Nick ROGERS and Joe GLANFIELD (GBR) who, along with Foerster and Burnham, provided viewers with one of the most exciting climaxes to an Olympic regatta, slide down to number four just ahead of Nathan WILMOT and Malcolm PAGE (AUS).
Of the four events counting results, there are two ISAF Grade one, one Grade 2 and one Grade 3. The top podium positions at the two Grade 1 events were taken by teams in the top 20 of the ISAF Rankings. Matthew BELCHER and Nick BEHRENS (AUS) won at Sail Melbourne and rise one place to number 28 whilst the Coster brothers from the Netherlands used their victory in Miami to climb up from 12 to 11. The biggest tumble in the top 20 is taken by Olympic bronze medallists Seki and Todoroki from Japan who slip from number seven to eleven. 2005 begins with 222 teams on the men's 470 rankings.
Double-handed dinghy women - 470
There are no events for the Women's 470 which had sufficient competitors to count rankings points.
That is not to say there have been no changes in position however as events fall outside of the two-year rolling calculation system. Ingrid PETITJEAN and Nadege DOUROUX (FRA) keep hold of the number one spot but Jenny ARMSTRONG and Belinda STOWELL (AUS) surrender the number two position to Vlada ILIENKO and Natalia GAPONOVICH (RUS). Petitjean's hold on the top spot has diminshed however and she is just 25 points ahead of second placed Ilienko.
There are other minor place changes in the top 20 including current World Champions Therese TORGERSSON and Vendela ZACHRISSON (SWE) climbing up two to number five and Christina BASSADONE and Catherine HOPSON (GBR) sliding out of the top ten to twelve. Returning to the top 20 is Marcelien DE KONING and Lobke BERHKOUT (NED) who climb just one place to number 20. There are a total of 77 teams on the ranking list.
Double-handed dinghy open - 49er
The 49er fleet are counting three events for this ranking release, two ISAF Grade 1 - Sydney International Regatta and Rolex Miami OCR and one ISAF Grade 2 event - Palamos Christmas Race. There have not been substantial changes at the head of the rankings and it is the same players who remain in the top five, albeit in a different order. Chris DRAPER and Simon HISCOCKS (GBR), bronze medallists from Athens, hang on at the top and still have a comfortable lead over the number two Ukrainian team, Rodion LUKA and George LEONCHUK, who are now counting the points from their second place in Miami.That leaves Chris NICHOLSON and Gary BOYD (AUS) alone in third place, which they had previously shared with Luka and Leonchuk.
At number four are Tim WADLOW and Peter SPAULDING (USA) who slide down two places and Marcus BAUR and Max GROY (GER) are at number five, neither having competed in any ranked events since the Olympic Sailing Competition in Athens. Peter SPAULDING has however gained ranking points with a different skipper, Morgan LARSON, and the pair had a successful regatta in Miami where they took the top podium position. Larson subsequently climbs 16 places up to number 68.
There are now 162 teams on the 49er rankings with seven new teams joining today. The highest of these is Andrew ESTCOURT (NZL) who collected 442 points after finising sixth at Rolex Miami OCR and enters at number 107. Another notable new entry is Nathan OUTTERIDGE crewed by Malcolm PAGE (AUS) at numbr 110 after a fourth place at Sydney International Regatta. Outteridge already has an exceptional list of results to his name, at just 19 years of age he has three ISAF Youth World Championship titles under his belt - he won gold in the 29er in 2002 and in the 420 in 2003 and 2004. Outteridge has competed on the Olympic 470 circuit since 2002 and is ranked at number 35. Is this a change of ship for his 2008 Olympic campaign?
Multihull Open - Tornado
Like the Finn, there is only one event counting toward the Tornado rankings and that is the ISAF Grade 1 Rolex Miami OCR. There's no change at the top however as double Olympic gold medallists Roman HAGARA and Hans Pete STEINACHER (AUT) keep hold of their pole position. It is however by the slimmest of margins, as Mitch BOOTH and Herbert DERCKSON (NED) are snapping at the heels, just eight points behind in second. Also climbing one place is Olivier BACKES and Laurent VOIRON (FRA) who are now at number three. None of these teams competed in Miami but the fourth placed team did. Olympic silver medallists John LOVELL and Charlie OGLETREE (USA) have climbed one place up the rankings after convincingly winning the event with five firsts and a second.
Second overall in Miami was Roland GAEBLER and Gunnar STRUCKMANN (GER) but their ranking position does not change and they remain at number seven. There are only minor movements throughout the rankings which now includes 120 teams. The highest new entry is Rob PARRISH and Lars GUCK (USA) who finished fourth at the Rolex Miami OCR to enter the rankings at number 91.
Unfortunately the Tornado North American Championship, which shoud have been an ISAF C1 event did not meet particiption criteria, and the North American Tornado Association plans to re-schedule the championship for November 2005.
Keelboat Women - Yngling
There are no results added to the Yngling rankings in this ranking release as neither Sydney International Regatta, Sail Melbourne, Rolex Miami OCR or the Christmas Race had enough competitors to count . This does not mean that there are no changes amongst the 45 teams on the ranking list.
Dorte JENSEN, Helle JESPERSEN and Christina OTZEN (DEN) have finally been shifted from the top spot where they have resided since February 2004. Kristin WAGNER, Anna HOLL and Veronika LOCHBRUNNER (GER) are in the number one position for the first time in their careers but their lead is a slim one - just 28 points. The golden girls from Great Britain remain at number three but this could be short lived as Shirley ROBERTSON has announced she is taking a break from the class in 2005, whilst her crew, the two Sarah's, are teaming up with a third team member to mount a campaign of their own.
The team at number four are new to the top five of the Yngling rankings and they are Anne LEHEELEY, Marion DEPLANQUE and Elodie LESAFFRE (FRA) who climb two places to number six. Giula CONTI and her crew remain at number five.
The rest of the top 20 have also jostled for position but their have been no dramatic movements.
Keelboat Men - Star
No significant change in the top 10 of the Star rankings, with Frederik LÖÖF and Anders EKSTROM (SWE), sitting pretty at number 1, a position they have held since May 2003. A second place at the ISAF Grade 1 Rolex Miami OCR, the only graded event they have entered since the Olympic Games, sees them extend their points margin over the chasing Mark NEELEMANN and Peter VAN NIEKERK (NED) in second. As the defending Star World Champions, Freddy and Anders, will be wanting to defend their title and retain their rankings position, at the upcoming Star Worlds, 8-20 February in Argentina.
Holding tight in third place are Iain PERCY and Steve MITCHELL (GBR), who retain their ranking, despite not competing since Athens.
Behind the top three, there continues to be no change in position until you get to Colin BEASHEL and David GILES (AUS) who drop two places from 7 to 9, with no rankings points to their credit since the Olympics.
The next big drop is for Paul CAYARD and Phil TRINTER (USA) from 9 to 15, and with Paul's focus now back on big boats, he is likely to be moving further down the rankings. Phil TRINTER meanwhile teamed up with Mark REYNOLDS in Miami and the pair are also registered to compete in the Star Worlds later this month.
With the new C1 grading, giving Continental Championships a quality factor of 1.5, equal to that of a World Championship, a big leap up for the winner of the Star South Americans, with Lars GRAEL and crew Marco LAGOA shifting up 103 places, from 290 to 87. Finishing second behind Lars, was another Brazilian golden boy, Robert SCHEIDT who moves up to 107 on the Star rankings, as he sets out on his Star Olympic campaign, with medals in 2008 proving an attractive lure.
A 17 at the Star South Americans has launched the first entry on the the ISAF World Sailing Rankings in the Star Fleet from Chile- welcome to Vincente GIMENO and Jorge ZUAZOLA (CHI).
Significant movers up include Larry WHIPPLE and Mark STRUBE (USA) up from 72 to 40, having posted a seventh at the Star South Americans, followed by a 17 at Rolex Miami OCR. Mike MILNER and Steve CUTTING (CAN) move up to 69 from 102, and Christian NEHAMMER and Gunther MITTERHAUSER (AUT) up from 109 to 73.
A number of new entries on the rankings, with the highest debuts from Peter FICKER and Marcelo JORDAO (BRA) in at 112, and Fabian MACGOWAN and Federico CALEGARI (ARG) in at 113, both of whom competed at the Grade C1 Star South American Championships.
Windsurfer Men - Mistral
The Mistral will continue to feature in the ISAF World Sailing Rankings until the new Olympic equipment the Neil Pryde RS:X replaces it in the coming months. For the men, the results from the ISAF Grade 1 Sail Melbourne are the only ones to count. The men's Mistral was dominated by the sailors from Hong Kong who picked up all of the top five positions. The highest on the rankings is Ho Chi HO who finished second and subsequently climbs eight places to number eleven.
Maxim OBEREMKO (UKR) returns to the top spot ahead of Julien BONTEMPS (FRA) and Olympic bronze medallist Nick DEMPSEY (GBR). Fellow Olympic medallists Gal FRIDMAN (ISR) and Nikos KAKLAMANAKIS (GRE) have not faired well and this is indicative of the small number of events they competed in during the build up to the Olympic Games. Fridman slips seven places to number 13, and Kaklamanakis finds himself right out of the top 20, going down eleven places to number 22.
Other movers and shakers in the top 20 include Toni WILHELM (GER) who shoots up to number eight from 13, whilst Alexander BARONJAN (GER) and Riccardo GIORDANO (ITA) move up six and four places respectively to 19 and 20.
Windsurfer Women - Mistral
There were no events to count for the Mistral Women in this ranking. Faustine MERRET (FRA) Olympic gold medallist, remains the top of the rankings ahead of bronze medallist Alessandra SENSINI (ITA) who is second. Lee Lai SHAN (HKG), the silver medallist who has excelled in this class for many years, moves back amongst the world's top five from number seven, to sit at number four. In third place, the highest this sailor has ever achieved is Olga MASLIVETS from the Ukraine, with the top five is rounded out by Great Britain's Natasha STURGES.
Two sailors have entered the top 20 for the first time following a slow but steady progression up the rankings. Zofia KLEPACKA (POL) has certainly proved herself at the ISAF Youth Worlds in recent years, having emphatically won the gold for four consecutive years and also competed at the Olympic Sailing Competition in Athens where she finished twelfth, and joins the top twenty at number 16. Bulgarian sailor Irina KONSTANTINOVA moves up one place to enter the top 20 at number 20, her highest ever position.
There are now 104 sailors on the women's Mistral rankings and it's going to be interesting to see which sailors will make the switch to the new equipment, the Neil Pryde RS:X.
The next ISAF World Sailing Rankings will be released on 4 March including the results of events which meet the grading criteria up to and including Athens Eurolymp 2005.