The 2002 Laser World Championships is due to kick off on 12 September in Massachusettes, USA, hosted by the Hyannis Yacht Club, Cape Cod.
Racing will begin on 12 September with 2 races taking place each day and a qualification series taking place from 12 - 15 September and the Finals series from 16 - 18 September. The fleet, which currently stands at 134 entries from 44 nations and 5 continents will be divided first into a blue and yellow fleet and then into a gold and silver fleet.
All the top 30 ISAF World Ranked sailors are entered except number 21 Anders Nyholm Pederson (DEN), so the competition for the medals will be fierce from the outset. Not only are the sailors competing for the World title, 14 of them will also qualify their nation to the 2004 Olympic Regatta in the open single-handed dinghy event. With 15 different nations in the top 20 of the ranking list there is everything to play for.
Five times World Champion (1995, 1996, 1997, 2000 & 2001), 2 time Olympic Medallist (Gold 1996, Silver 2000) and ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year 2001, Robert Scheidt (BRA) will be back on familiar ground and looking for another title. Currently ranked at number 2 in the World, Schiedt has been swapping places this season with Sweden's Karl Suneson and Britain's Paul Goodison and all three are strong contenders for the title.
Goodison has produced a string of 1st place results since finishing 4th at the Worlds in 2001. Wins at Kieler Wocher, Rolex Miami OCR, Athens Eurolymp, Sydney International Regatta, Semaine Olympique Francaise, Princess Sofia Trophy and 2nd at the recent Olympic Test Event in Athens could be enough to hold off the many double-Olympians who will be competing. Suneson is currently ranked at number 1 in the world despite having only one 1st place to his name this season, the 2002 Laser Europeans, which goes to show that consistency pays. Suneson has not finished in the top 3 at the Laser Europeans since 1996 when he claimed the silver behind Scheidt, so maybe 2002 will be his year.
There are 4 other double Olympians on the entry list. Bronze medallist in 1996, Peer Moberg (NOR) is currently ranked at number 13 in the world. Moberg finished 3rd at the worlds in 2001 but had a disappointing 10th at the 2000 Olympic Regatta. Currently ranked at number 17 in the world, Philippe Bergmans (BEL) finished 16th in 2000 and 18th in 1996 and just behind him is Allan Julie (SEY) ranked at number 23, who took a 28th in Sydney and 38th in Atlanta. The fourth double Olympian is Malaysia's Kevin Lim, currently ranked at number 90. Can the major regatta experience pay off for Lim and will he be able to qualify Malaysia for 2004 or will the younger up and coming stars push the veterans aside?
Rising stars to watch include Augusto Nicolini (PER) and Michael Bullot (NZL). Nineteen year old Nicolini, ranked at number 209 has steadily worked his way up the world rankings but has only competed in 3 graded events so far, the most recent being the 2002 ISAF World Sailing Games, and this will be his first Laser World Championships. Bullot's best result so far in the Laser is 4th at the 2001 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championships and he is currently ranked at number 120. However, these results could be deceiving, as 18 year-old Bullot's main success has come in the Laser Radial. In July 2001 Bullot became the first sailor ever to win both the Laser Radial Open and Laser Radial Youth World Championships - excellent preparation for transferring to the Laser!
The International Jury will be chaired by Takao Otani (JPN) and includes International Judges (IJ) Withers (GBR) and Eric Melbaum (NED), International Mearsurer (IM) and IJ Jean Luc Michon (FRA), IJ and International Race Officer (IRO) Nelson Horn Ilha (BRA) and National Judge Mason Pepper (NZL). The Principal Race Officer is Jeff Martin (GBR) who is an IRO, IJ and IM Jeff Martin, Executive Secretary of the International Laser Class Association.