Sarah Blanck (AUS) wins Europe Worlds and Olympic Qualification for Australia.
Australia's Sarah Blanck, has won her first World title at the Europe Class World Championships in Hamilton, Canada. Blanck's victory also guarantees Australia an entry to the Women's single-handed dinghy event at the 2004 Olympics, and is her best ever result in her Europe sailing career to date.
Currently ranked at number 30 in the ISAF World Rankings for the Europe Class, Blanck saw off stiff competition from the World's best Europe sailors for a series which included 3 bullets, three 2nds and a 3rd. Blanck led the Championship from Day 2 after taking the lead from Norway's Siren Sundby who eventually finished 12 points behind Blanck in 2nd.
Conditions for the finals were light and shifty and despite the final day being her worst day of the Championship, Blanck had already done enough to maintain a 12 point lead, illustrating the importance of a good start throughout a Championship.
Defending champion and World ranked number 1, Sari Multala had to settle for 4th overall as 2nd place went to Siren Sundby (NOR) and 3rd to Petra Niemann (GER) only one point behind Sundby. Niemann, currently ranked at number 21 in the world took the bullet in races 15 and 18 to improve on her 6th in 2000 and 7th in 2001.
World ranked number 2 Maria Coleman (IRL) could manage no better than 7th overall, just behind the world ranked number 3 Carolijn Brouwer (NED) in 6th.
In a fleet of 109, the top 9 nations qualified for the 2004 Olympic Regatta and Congratulations to Australia, Norway, Germany, Finland, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Ireland, Poland and China (subject to confirmation of compliance with the ISAF Olympic Qualification System).
Only three of these nations qualified at the same stage before the 2000 Olympic Regatta, and in fact last time around China and Norway did not qualify until the final qualification regatta in the actual year of the Olympics in 2000.
The next chance for sailors to qualify in the single-handed dinghy women's event for the 2004 Olympic Regatta will be at the ISAF World Sailing Championship, 11-25 September, Cadiz, Spain.
Probably the biggest surprise in the final results was China taking 9th and 10th place, the only nation to have two sailors finish in the top 10, and indeed they had 4 sailors finishing in the top 20. With only 2 graded events under her belt, the Worlds in 2001 and Open Week 2001, where she finished 28th and 25th respectively, Zhou Juying is currently ranked at number 123 in the World but sailed consistently well to finish 9th overall. Just behind her with 97 points to Juying's 96, was Xu Chunjuan, the top ranked Chinese Europe sailor at number 82 in the World.
Top 10 Results Overall - After 19 Races and 2 Discards
1. Sarah Blanck (AUS) - 33,1,2,3,1,1,1,5, 2,2,6,26,10,DNC=56 - 33
2. Siren Sundby (NOR) - 45,2, 1, 1,PEN=20, PEN=4,11,2,6,3,24,9,4,4 - 45
3. Petra Niemann (GER) - 46,3,10, 5, 2,2,3,11, 34,1,3,1,8,42 - 46
4. Sari Multala (FIN) - 62,4,1,1,8,5, 4,20,26,1,39,19,2,1 - 62
5. Lenka Smidova (CZE) - 62,5,19, 17,3,3,5,13,1,DNF-56,9,3,6,2 - 62
6. Carolijn Brouwer (NED) - 81,6, 25,OCS-56, 18,22, 3,1,8,3,15,2,1,8 - 81
7. Maria Coleman (IRL) - 84,7, 3,8,11,4,8,6,10, 2,25,45,23,9 - 84
8. Monika Bronicka (POL) - 92,8,3,15,30, 8,5,17,6,10,18,14,9,5 - 92
9. Zhou Juying (CHN) - 96,9, 8, 13,3,41, 6,2, 2,13,40,21,5,23 - 96
10. Xu Chunjuan (CHN) - 97,10,7, 11, 25, 7, 2, 8, 5, 25, 4,15,26,13 - 97