Congratulations to Spain, Great Britain, Ukraine, Italy, Denmark and the Netherlands who have claimed the first six slots to qualify for the 2004 Olympic Regatta in the 49er fleet.
An outstanding performance by the 2002 49er World Championship holders Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez of Spain reflecting their third placing on the ISAF World Sailing Rankings.
So whilst these sailors have guaranteed their nation a place at the 2004 Olympic Regatta, they have by no means guaranteed their own. Sailors will still have to proceed through their own national qualification process to determine which sailors will actually take up that slot and represent their nation in 2004.
At this stage four years ago, GBR, USA, FRA, DEN, POR and NED claimed their Olympic Slots from the first qualification regatta, the 1998 49er World Championships. Interestingly of those first six qualifying nations, the first and second qualifying nations, being GBR and USA went on to claim medals at the 2000 Olympic Regatta. Meanwhile, the 2000 Olympic Gold Medallists did not succeed in qualifying their country until the final qualification regatta, the 2000 49er World Championships, where their eighth overall granted Finland the 12th nation slot of the 18 available. As is now history, Finland went on to claim Olympic Gold. Could this be an indicator for who to watch as the 2004 Olympic Regatta draws nearer? Watch this space.
How does the 2004 Olympic Regatta Qualification System work? For each Olympic event, there are three qualification regattas, being the respective Class World Championship in 2002 where approximately 45% of the total quota allocated to each class will qualify, the 2003 ISAF World Sailing Championship in Cadiz, Spain where approximately 20% of the total quote allocated to each class will qualify, and the respective Class World Championship in 2004 (aside from the Yngling Class who in 2004 will most probably use the Class Europeans) where the remaining 35% of slots will be taken. The exact breakdown of qualification and the entire system are detailed in the 2004 Olympic Qualification System, available on the ISAF website at:
The remaining 2002 Olympic Qualification Regattas are:
Yngling World Championship - 19-26 July 2002 - Lake Lucerne, Switzerland
Finn Gold Cup - 20-28 July 2002 - Athens, Greece
Star Class World Championship - 14-25 August 2002 - Marina del Rey, USA
Europe Class World Championship - 26 August - 3 September 2002 - Hamilton, Canada
Laser Class World Championship - 12-18 September 2002 - Cape Cod, USA
Tornado Class World Championship - 21-28 September 2002 - Martha's Vineyard, USA
Mistral Class World Championship - 29 November - 2 December 2002 - Pattaya, Thailand
470 Class World Championship - 2-11 September 2002 - Cagliari, Italy
The total of 400 athlete places available at the 2004 Olympic Regatta, are split between the events, with 153 men's event places, 137 women's event places and 110 open event places.
It should be noted that qualification is subject to confirmation that the sailors who have qualified their nation from the 2002 49er Worlds comply with the nationality criteria requirements.