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16 December 2002, 11:14 am
Final 2002 Olympic Qualification Regatta Concludes
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Barbara Kendall (NZL)Mistral World Champion

Mistral World Championship and Olympic Qualification Regatta
Pattaya

The Olympic Mistral class has two new World Champions after events conspired against both of last year's winners in different ways to deny them repeat titles.
In the men's event, Nikos Kaklamanakis (GRE), Olympic medallist and last years world champion started strongly after a delay to racing caused by one or two measurement issues, which needed to be resolved on the first day. He led the regatta going into the fleet split after race four, but subsequently became a little inconsistent, eventually finishing fourth overall, a result he will expect to improve on over the coming months leading up to next years championship in Cadiz.

Gal Fridman (ISR), the new Mistral World Champion however, started the final races with an enthusiasm that matches his steady rise up the ISAF Sailing Rankings from a position of 21 in May, to his current standing of SIXTH, which is sure to rise given his latest result, when the new rankings are released later today. He scored a first, fourth and second in the first three races after the split, and only once ventured outside of the top ten, in a result he discarded. He eventually won the regatta a full twelve points ahead of Ricardo Santos (BRA), who resides only one place below him in the ISAF Sailing Rankings, in seventh.

Frenchman Julien Bontemps rounded off the podium positions, finishing the World Championship with a string of results that saw him leapfrog Nikos on the final day.

As a result of this, the final Olympic Qualification regatta of 2002, the following twelve nations have, subject to ISAF ratification, qualified for an entry into the Olympic Games in Athens 2004, in the Men's windsurfing event:

Israel, Brazil, France, Great Britain, Argentina, Portugal, New Zealand, Poland, Ukraine, Spain, Hungary, The Netherlands.

The second qualification regatta, the 2003 ISAF World Sailing Championships in Cadiz, will see a further fifteen nations qualify.

The Women's fleet saw a return to dominance from Barbara Kendall (NZL) in her first major regatta since winning the bronze medal at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. She added the title of World Champion for the third time to her impressive tally of an Olympic medal of every colour. After sailing an amazing consistent series, Kendall won the penultimate race to establish an unassailable lead over Faustine Merrett (FRA) to take her well-deserved championship win.

Pre event favourite, Lee Lai Shan (HKG) unfortunately had to pull out of the regatta early due to illness and left Hong Kong's Olympic qualification hopes pinned on Wang Shen Mei, who sailed a good regatta to assure (subject to ratification by ISAF) that an athlete from Hong Kong will indeed be competing in Athens 2004. She finished ninth overall.

After a shaky start and some results she may want to forget, ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year nominee, Alessandra Sensini (ITA) sailed well in the latter part of the event to finish second overall, overtaking Faustine Merrett in the last race to secure the second podium slot.

The ten qualifying nations for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens are (Subject to ISAF ratification):

New Zealand, Italy, France, Great Britain, Germany, China, Spain, Poland, Hong Kong, Switzerland.

Only eight nations qualified at the same point for Sydney, and this time around we can add Great Britain, Switzerland and Spain, whilst the USA has failed to qualify at this point. Twelve further nations will qualify in Cadiz next year.

Overall Top Ten

Men: Final Races

Position Nation Name Total
1 ISR FRIDMAN Gal 33
2 BRA SANTOS Ricardo 45
3 FRA BONTEMPS Julien 50
4 GRE KAKLAMANAKIS Nikolas 58
5 GBR TIDEY Dominic 63
6 ARG GALVAN Marcos 65
7 GBR DEMPSEY Nick 77
8 POR CASPAR RODRIGUES J-Filip 83
9 FRA HASSEN Fabrice 96
10 NZL ASHLEY Tom 101

Women

Position Nation Name Total
1 NZL KENDALL Barbara 26
2 ITA SENSINI Alessandra 34
3 FRA MERRET Faustine 46.1
4 FRA VIDAL Lise 48.4
5 GBR STURGES Natasha 61
6 FRA NUVOLONE Sandrine 64
7 GER LUX Amelie 80
8 FRA GROS Synthia 85
9 CHN SHENGMEI Wang 102
10 ESP MANCHON Blanca 108

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