There are now only 12 days to go before the opening of the ISAF World Sailing Games in Marseille, France, which will welcome 64 nations from 29 June to 10 July 2002, confirming this regatta as one of the world's biggest international sailing events.
The first World Sailing Games was held in La Rochelle, France in 1994 then in Dubaï in 1998. With the boats provided to the competitors by the Organising Committee, and nations allowed to send two entries per event, the World Sailing Games are really open to all. Using exactly the same and equal provided equipment, it is only the sailors' skill that can determine the medallists.
ISAF in conjunction with the Federation Francaise de Voile and the Organising Committee has supported sailors at the World Sailing Games by means of an "Athlete Participation Programme". The Programme will provide both funding and expert coaching support to sailors who have qualified to the programme. Direct funding will enable sailors to receive subsidies towards their air travel and accommodation expenses, and the coaching support will be provided both prior to the Games and then on a daily basis throughout the Games for those sailors who may not otherwise benefit from a national coach or team manager.
More than 800 athletes will compete in the ten events. Competition will be fierce, with many Olympic and World Championship title-holders ready to do battle on Marseille Bay. However, this event has attracted sailors from across the spectrum, from Olympic Medallists through to sailors who may be competing at their first international event. With everyone sailing on equal equipment - the field could be open. There are few sports that provide athletes across the spectrum the opportunity to compete against the world's best.
Looking at a few of the fleets, there is no question that many of the world's top sailors will be in Marseille. In the 470 Women fleet, both the current world ranking leaders
Sofia Bekatorou and Emilia Tsoulfa
(GRE) and reigning Olympic Champions Jenny Armstrong and Belinda Stowell (AUS) will be looking to do battle.
In the 470 Men fleet, eight of the world's top 10 ranked sailors will be in Marseille. Including ISAF World ranked number one Andreas Kosmatopoulos and Kostas Trigonis
(GRE), ISAF World ranked two Gustavo Martinez and Tunte Cantero (ESP) and IASF World ranked three Alvaro Marinho and Miguel Nines (POR).
In the single-handed men event in the Laser, which will see the greatest number of entries of the 10 events, all except four of the world's top 15 sailors will be there including five times World Champion Robert Scheidt
(BRA), ISAF World ranked number one. ISAF World ranked number two Paul Goodison (GBR), didn't manage to qualify to represent Great Britain, so intense was the national competition for the two British spots that went to Edward Wright and Jim Taylor.
In the women's Sailboard event, on the Bic Techno Formula equipment, there are currently fifteen entries, including Sydney 2000 Olympic Gold Medallist in the Mistral Class Alessandra Sensini
(ITA), and Formula European Championship 2002 Bronze medallist Verena Fauster (ITA).
In the men's Sailboard event, also on the Bic Techno Formula equipment, seasoned professional windsurfing racer Phil McGain (AUS) is entered, along with top Formula Euro Cup competitor Andrea Cucchi (ITA), and top Mistral racer, ISAF World Ranked at number 3, Maxim Obremko (UKR).
ISAF World ranked number two in the Tornado Class Darren Bundock
(AUS) will compete in the Hobie Cat 16 event.
The J/22 will see sailors from a variety of backgrounds including many of the Olympic campaigners from the Yngling Class, jumping boat to the J/22.
Several nations will be competing in this event for the first time including, amongst others, Guam, Ecuador and Peru. ISAF is delighted to welcome both Peru and Guam's sailors who are being supported by the "Athlete Participation Programme".
The twelve days of racing will take place on Marseille Bay, adjacent to "La Corniche" the 5 kilometre waterfront, which will provide an excellent arena from where spectators can watch the racing. The weather for the Games looks good, and at this time of year sun and good winds are to be expected.
All competitors will be hosted at the "Championship Village", which has been built on 4 hectares of the Base Nautique du Roucas Blanc, surrounding the Games marina.
The "Championship Village" will provide all amenities and facilities for competitors and organisers alike, including the more than 500 volunteers who will support the event, both ashore and on the water.
A spectacular Opening Ceremony will be hosted by the City of Marseille on 29 June 2002. The ceremony, which will be held in the streets of Marseille, is open to the public, and it is anticipated that more than 300,000 people will be part of the Opening Ceremony with many more spectators.
Bruno Peyron and his record breaking maxi catamaran, Orange, will also be at the Worlds, based in Marseille's Old Port.