The Greek men's team at the 2002 470 World Championships here in Cagliari, Italy will have one or two more spectators tomorrow.
Watching from the coach boat will be the new 470 Women's World Champions Sofia Bekatorou and Emilia Tsoulfa (GRE), who today became the first 470 sailors to win 3 consecutive World Championships (2000, 2001 and 2002). And they won it in style, with a race to spare.
This Greek pairing have moved through the 470 pack over the last few years to find themselves now firmly settled in the history books at the front of this hotly contested fleet. They were nominated for the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards 2001 in recognition of their complete domination of the fleet during that year, commencing with a win at the Grade 3 Athens Eurolymp in February 2001, before moving on to win every other Grade 1 event, Hyeres, Spa, Kiel and the 470 Europeans. The shortlisted sailors for the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards 2002 are yet to be announced by ISAF. However, nominations closed 2 September 2002 and were in recognition of achievements for the period 1 September 2001 through to 31 August 2002, so this win couldn't actually be considered.
Despite the win, Sofia is looking forward to her Greek National Championships next week, before a well-deserved rest after what has been a marathon season. Sailors from the almost 30 countries on the European circuit have crossed the continent 3 times and sailed more than 7 major regatta's this year before reaching ultimately, the World Championships here in Italy and the first Olympic Qualification Regatta for the men's and women's double-handed event for the 2004 Olympic Regatta.
Today the Women's Gold was decided but probably also the Silver. Lisa Westerhof and Margriet Matthijisse (NED) were emphatic in their two firsts today, amassing huge leads and sailing to the finish line without kites to avoid risks. Margriet Matthijisse is already an Olympic Silver medallist and with this first season on the wire of a 470 she is enjoying the company and finds the class 'fun'.
Ingrid Petitjean & Nadege Douroux (FRA) were again consistent and hold 3rd by 7 points but there are 3-4 boats still in the hunt for bronze realistically.
In the men's fleet the Spanish have quietly climbed, Gustavo Martinez & Tunte Cantero, being only in the teens after the Qualification went on with 26,1,8,9,3,1 and 6 to hold a slim 2 point lead after today. Going into the last day Andreas Kosmatopoulas and Konstantinos Trigonis (GRE) are just 1 point ahead of overnight leaders Simon Cooke and Peter Nicholas (NZL) and look determined to join their counterparts on top of the podium.
The Kiwi's fought back from a terrible start this morning to 10th before the last run, only to capsize and rip their kite and score a 25th. A 5th in the 2nd race keeps them in 3rd overall but not nearly as comfortable as last night.
Just 8 points separate the top 5 and anything is possible tomorrow.
It will be a long day for our 'not forgotten' Silver and Bronze fleets that only left the beach for their 2nd race at 3.30pm. This was due to safety concerns addressed by the race Committee.
By tomorrow afternoon, Gold will hang around the Neck of the Greek Women and one of 5 men's teams. Nations will also hold their breath to see if they take one of the 10 Men's and 6 Women's 2004 Olympic Qualification spots on offer here in Italy.
The Last Race will start at 11.00 hrs tomorrow.