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29 December 2002, 01:31 pm
Issue Four - August/September
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2002 - A Year in Review
The World

Moving into the final few months of the year there were World Champions a plenty, Olympic Qualification and test events, and the countdown started to the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award.
Issue 4, August and September

ISAF would like to point out that if certain events or significant achievements have been omitted, this is not intentional, but purely that it is impossible to mention everything that has taken place throughout the year.

August saw the holding of the South American Games, which had been rather disorientated as its venue had changed several times during the preceding months, but eventually at short notice, it was the Brazilians who stepped in to host the eighth South American Games in Rio de Janeiro. Reward for hosting the event was given in Brazilian sailors dominating the Games with Gold Medals in 3 of the 5 events.

Continuing their support of sailing, Rolex added to their sponsorship of major events with the announcement at the end of July of a three-year agreement as title sponsor of the Rolex Middle Sea Race, an offshore race which starts and finishes in Malta. Rolex has added the Rolex Middle Sea Race to other prestigious Rolex-sponsored events including the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year, the Rolex Sydney Hobart, the Rolex Fastnet Race, the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, the Giraglia Rolex Cup, the St. Francis Big Boat Series and the International Rolex Regatta in St. Thomas.

August saw ISAF formally open nominations for the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards 2002 for outstanding achievement during the period 1 September 2001 through to 31 August 2002. Nominations closed 2 September 2002, which then left the Shortlist Panel with the onerous task of determining the male and female sailors who would proceed to the final round of voting, with the winners to be announced on 12 November 2002 at the ISAF Annual Conference in Cyprus.

With results including those from the Olympic Test Event, it was not surprising to see Ben Ainslie (GBR) on the shortlist, he continued his domination of the Finn Class since jumping ship from the America's Cup OneWorld syndicate, alongside Bruno Peyron (FRA) of Jules Verne fame, John Kostecki (USA) for his domination of the Volvo Ocean Race on illbruck, Ian Percy (GBR) who had moved from the Finn Class to the Star Class and paralleled Ben's achievements of domination, alongside the Spanish pairing of Iker Martinez and Xabier Fernandez (ESP) who were leading the 49er Class.

Over in the female shortlist, no-one was surprised to see the Greek duo of Sofia Bekatorou and Emilia Tsoulfa (GRE) who continued to dominate the 470 Class on the voting round, alongside Christine Briand (FRA) whose skills ranged from match racing to offshore to keelboat fleet racing, the renowned duo of Adrienne Cahalan (AUS) and Helena Darvelid (SWE) for their navigator/skipper team breaking records as they went both on Playstation and Maiden II, Sari Multala (FIN) who continued to lead the world in the Europe Class and finally 2000 Olympic Gold Medallist Alessandra Sensini (ITA) who showed her skills both in the Mistral Class and Formula event at the World Sailing Games where she took a bullet in every race to claim the title.

Whilst some of the world's leading sailors were being identified as the main contenders for the sport's premier award, all sailors were being targeted by the ISAF President in his desire to 'clean up the sport' and reduce the pushing of the kinetics rules to gain the ultimate speed advantage. Another subject which got the emails flying and considerable feedback:

President's Feedback

Feedback Part 1

Feedback Part 2

Feedback Part 3

With the following concluded as the key issues to move forward:

- Kinetics must be controlled and consistently applied with understandable rules.
- The Judges must talk to the sailors and put the line in the sand over which they cannot go.
- There must be a special group of IJ's who fully understand the class and are respected by the sailors.
- The Judges must be tough and fair.
- The only way to influence the sport is to ensure that the top sailors are controlled and that it filters down.
- ISAF must be proactive.

The challenge is to ISAF to make the necessary adjustments or Sailing, as we know it, suffers. As a result an ISAF working party will now be considering the Rule 42 issue in 2003. ISAF will also be hosting a Rule 42 Seminar in March 2003 which will focus on education to achieve a consistent and accurate approach to the policing of the rule worldwide, including discussion on a review of RRS 42 and modifications, problem areas and interpretations from the Racing Rules Committee, and different perspectives on judging the rule. As part of ISAF's responsibility to all aspects of the sport, the Offshore Committee were undertaking a survey of single-handed offshore sailing, to assess the extent and associated risks of the discipline the conclusion of which was considered by the ISAF Offshore Committee at its November Meeting.

Mid-August saw amendments made to the Offshore Special Regulations, relating to liferaft specifications in Section 4 - Portable Equipment & Supplies and Appendix A Part 2 - Minimum Specifications for Yachtmen's Liferafts.

September opened with a shock as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) published the review of the Olympic sports by the Olympic Programme Commission, with sailing targeted in their reduction of events, specifically identifying the keelboats. The ISAF Executive Committee received the news at their quarterly meeting in Toronto and vowed that whilst ISAF may have to respect the proposal to reduce the number of sailing events, that ISAF should choose which events were on the programme.

Meanwhile, the Olympics at which the changes were proposed to take effect, Beijing 2008, received acclaim from the IOC with its progress to date.

It was with great sadness that ISAF received the news that Canada's pre-eminent yachtsman Paul J. Phelan had passed away on Monday 2 September 2002. Paul, who was one of the greatest supporters of youth sailing who had received recognition for his devotion to the sport, with amongst others the awarding of the Order of Canada, the B'nai Brith Foundation Award of Merit, an ISAF Gold Medal and the ISAF Beppe Croce Trophy.

With more and more ISAF National Authorities launching websites or revamping old for new, it was South Africa Sailing's turn to produce a new website taking advantage of the include files available from the ISAF website.

At the initiative of the ISAF Women's Sailing Committee Member, Ninfa Provenza Caldarella, a women's seminar was hosted in Palermo, Italy frim 13-14 September, which achieved its aim of contributing to the training promotion and development of women in sailing. Presentations and discussion included race organisation and management, races and meteorology and emergency first aid procedures.

September saw the first qualification regatta for the 2004 Paralympic Regatta with the holding of the 2002 IFDS World Disabled Sailing Championship at the International Sailing Centre in Medemblik, Holland.

With the only two qualification regattas for the 2004 Paralympics, being the 2002 and 2003 Worlds in the three-person keelboat - Sonar and single-handed keelboat - 2.4mR, competition was closely fought for the seven qualification slots in each event, and with only one more chance in 2003. The Championship adopted the slogan'Sailing is a State of Mind' as the guiding theme of the Worlds as living with restricted physical disabilities requires extra effort from the body, and almost always even more from the mind, and in sailing a call to courage is made on both.

By the end of the event, in the 2.4mR it was the reigning World Champion Heiko Kroger (GER) who took the Gold and secured qualification for Germany, alongside France, USA, Denmark, Australia, Norway and the Netherlands.

In the Sonar, it was again Germany who dominated with 2000 Olympic Silver Medallist, Jens Kroker (GER) taking the title and paralympic qualification for Germany, together withGreat Britain, Canada, USA, Australia, Ireland and Israel.

With less than two months until the start of the oldest sporting trophy in Auckland, syndicate preparations became almost frantic in August. Cowes week competitors and spectators alike were treated to the spectacle of the second GBR Challenge America's Cup Yacht, 'Wight Magic' leaving the Isle of Wight bound ultimately for Auckland, Luna Rossa was bound for New Zealand, and the OneWorld Saga continued as they were found to be in breach of the America's Cup Protocol. Meanwhile, erstwhile America's Cup challenger Peter de Savary, announced his intention to head up a second British Challenge.

The list of World Champions increased steadily in August with Harry Melges winning the Melges 24 Worlds in Germany, his fifth attempt at the trophy that bears his name, Spanish sailors took the top three places at the Vaurien Worlds in Portugal, and began a period of Spanish dominance in sailing that was not going to end any time shortly. The French team comprising two IMX 40's and an X-442 showed local sailors how IMS should be done in the Solent as they walked away from Cowes with the Rolex Commodores Cup, the biennial three-yacht team event growing in both popularity and prestige.

At the South American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil took three Gold medals, winning the Lightning, snipe and Laser Radial fleets, with Argentina completing the Gold medal Tally with victories in the Laser Standard and Mistral men.

No ALT tag specifiedISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year nominee Bruno Peyron (FRA) brought his Giant catamaran Orange to Cowes in preparation for a stab at the Round Britain and Ireland record. It was to prove fruitless however, when they were becalmed at the final stage, when the record was almost in sight and missed out by the smallest of margins.

At the Star World Championship in Marina del Rey in California, newcomers Iain Percy and Steve Mitchell embarrassed the fleet pecking order and added a World Championship title to a quiver that was to include the Europeans by the time the year was out and the Europe Worlds in Hamilton, Canada was impressively won by Australian Sarah Blanck. Olympic qualification regattas continued in September with the 470 World Championship in the Sardinian town of Cagliari, the women's fleet was won for the third time by Sofia Bekatorou and Emilia Tsoulfa (GRE) who were beginning to have a legendary season, which was only going to get better. Nathan Wilmot and Malcom Page (NZL) staged an impressive comeback to take the men's title, and qualify New Zealand for Athens 2004.

The Around Alone started from New York after Graham Dalton was penalised for arriving late at the race village. Records were broken on the first leg across the Atlantic to Torquay when Emma Richards, the only girl in the race became the fastest woman to sail eastwards across the pond.

No ALT tag specified2000 470 Olympic Champions, Jenny Armstrong and Belinda Stowell (AUS) retained their position at the top of the Rankings again on 29 August after toppling the seemingly unstoppable Greeks, Bekatorou and Tsoulfa, back in July. Bekatorou and Tsoulfa took the 2002 European title at the beginning of August in Estonia for the third successive year but this wasn't enough to climb back to Number One.

In the men's fleet Nicolas Charbonnier and Christidis Stephane (FRA) took the European title but the Ukrainian duo of Braslavets and Matviyenko who finished out of the medals in 4th place were strong enough to stay at the top of the Rankings.

Monica Azon's success at the Yngling World Championships in July had been enough to boost her and her crew to the number one slot of the Yngling rankings - the only team to topple Australian Melanie Dennison since the Yngling rankings began - and she held on again at the next release on 29 August despite Dennison taking the Gold at the Athens Test Event.

The fourth sailor to top the Laser Rankings in 2002 took the top spot at the 29 August release. 2002 European champion, Kalle Suneson (SWE) climbed one place to number one.

Back in May, Przemek Miarczynski (POL) took over the number one spot in the men's Mistral Rankings and despite his dominance of the windy conditions at the Mistral Europeans in Austria he was unable to take a medal due to poor results in the lighter conditions at the start of the championship. He did however stay at the top of the rankings at the 29 August release.

No ALT tag specifiedItalian Mistral ace Alessandra Sensini finished the Mistral Europeans on equal points with Britain's Natasha Sturges but her greater consistency gave her the gold. Neither sailor could touch Lee Lai Shan (HKG) who had toped the rankings since October 2001.

The only top graded event included in the 29 August ranking release was the biggest one in the Star calendar, the Star Class World Championships in California, USA. Mark Reynolds (USA) reclaimed the number one spot in the Rankings from Jose Maria van der Ploeg and Diego Perez (ESP) whilst winners Iain Percy and Steve Mitchell rose to number 17 after putting away 11 past Star World champions to take the Gold.

No ALT tag specifiedThere was no change at the top of the 49er Rankings after the 49er European Championships or the Test Event in Athens. Iker Martinez and Xabier Fernandez (ESP) fought of a strong challenge from Briton's Chris Draper and Simon Hiscocks to repeat their championship winning form from the Worlds to add the European title to their list of successes.

No ALT tag specifiedRoman Hagara and Henrich Steinacher (AUT) held on to the number one spot of the Tornado Rankings, Sari Multala (FIN) was once again not to be displaced from her position at the top and Emilios Papathanasiou (GRE) also kept his place in the Finn Rankings.

August and September were busier months for the grade one Match Racing events. In Newport, Rhode Island Chris Law (GBR) came out of retirement for the UBS Challenge Finals to defeat world class sailors and America's Cup helms. Karol Jablonski took the grade one Yava Trohpy in Russia and then went on win the KSSS City Match ISAF World Match Racing Championships in Sweden to become the 2002 ISAF World Match Racing Champion.

In the Open World Match Racing Rankings however, it was Denmark's Jesper Radich who knocked Peter Holmberg (ISV) from the Number One position on the 30 August Rankings release. Marie Bjorling remained solid at the top of the Women's Rankings.

The next issues of "2002 - A Year In Review" will be published as follows:

Issue 5 - Published 31 December - News from October, November, December

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