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8 August 2008, 10:00 pm
Event Guide: Women's Keelboat - Yngling
Yngling racing at the Athens Games
Great Britain are favourites to retain their gold medal in Qingdao

2008 Beijing Olympic Games
Qingdao, China

Forty-five sailors represent 15 nations in the Women's Keelboat event sailed in the three-person Yngling class at the 2008 Olympic Games - get the low down on the event here...
The Yngling event in Qingdao is packed full of Olympic medallists, including two of the three-strong British Yngling crew who won gold in Athens four years and gold medallists from both the one and two person dinghy events in Athens. This is the second Olympic Games featuring the Yngling keelboat, following on from Athens where it made its debut. Expect racing to be close and highly tactical, especially in the predominantly lighter conditions expected in Qingdao.

At A Glance

Event: Women's Keelboat
Equipment: Yngling
Racing Dates: 9-16 August
Medal Race: 16 August

Find out more about the event and the equipment here

Key Results

2004 Olympic medallists - full details here
1. Shirley ROBERTSON, Sarah WEBB, Sarah AYTON (GBR)
2. Ruslana TARAN, Svitlana MATEVUSHEVA and Ganna KALININA (UKR)
3. Dorte JENSEN, Christina OTZEN and Helle JESPERSEN (DEN)

2008 World Championship - full details here
1. Sarah AYTON, Sarah WEBB and Pippa WILSON (GBR)
2. Krystal WEIR, Karyn GOJNICH and Angela FARRELL (AUS)
3. Ulrike SCHUEMANN, Julia BLECK and Ute HOEPFNER (GER)

2007 Olympic Test Event - full results here
1. Sarah AYTON, Sarah WEBB and Pippa WILSON (GBR)
2. Renee GROENEVELD, Annemieke BES and Marije KAMPEN (NED)
3. Ekaterina SKUDINA, Diana KRUTSKIKH and Natalia IVANOVA (RUS)

ISAF World Sailing Rankings top three - full Rankings here
1. Sarah AYTON, Sarah WEBB and Pippa WILSON (GBR)
2. Ulrike SCHUEMANN, Julia BLECK and Ute HOEPFNER (GER)
3. Ekaterina SKUDINA, Diana KRUTSKIKH and Natalia IVANOVA (RUS)

Click here for a full list of all previous Yngling medallists

Form Guide

The Yngling is one of the most tactical boats in the Olympic Sailing Competition. Racing tends to be very close and therefore small mistakes can prove extremely costly. The expected conditions in Qingdao, with predominantly lighter winds and strong currents are likely to put good decision making at a premium. Sandra AZON, Olympic silver medallist in the 470 event in Athens and now part of the Spanish Yngling team, also believes Qingdao still has plenty of surprises in store: "I have been here four times and I'm still learning. The conditions here are different every day. I think the key to success here is to be patient, because this time the competition is going to be a long one."

Following Athens, the gold medal winning team from Athens split but the result appears to be an even stronger GBR challenge this time around. Sarah AYTON and Sarah WEBB won gold with Shirley ROBERTSON at the helm, but in Qingdao it is AYTON who will be at the back of the boat with Pippa WILSON joining the team on the bow. This team has a phenomenal record over the past two seasons, scoring podium finishes at all but one event they have entered and winning back-to-back World Championship titles as well as last year's Olympic Test Event. WEBB says the team's dynamic is a key part of their success, "We're all completely different but I think that's what makes a really successful team. We've all got the common goal [of Olympic gold] but we go about achieving it in very different ways which means we're bringing out the best in each other."

The American team of Sally BARKOW, Carrie HOWE and Debbie CAPOZZI are long time rivals to the Brits and the two teams have faced off on numerous occasions in some very close Medal Races. Early in the Olympic cycle the US team appeared to have the edge but since their win at the 2007 Worlds, the Brits have held the upper hand. The German has also been particular strong through this Olympic cycle and are proven performers at the top events.

Newer teams making waves come from Finland, Norway and the re-jigged Australian team. The Norwegians in particular have hit a rich vein of form coming into the Games. Their team is spearhead by Athens gold medallist in the single-person dinghy, Siren SUNDBY: "Winning a medal in Chin may be the most special achievement in my career because it represents overcoming the most challenges - having started this Olympic period as a double-handed sailor, having a break and now sailing as the skipper of a three-person boat," she commented.

Other teams to look out for are the Dutch, whose unique selection process (see below) has been the subject of some controversy, the Spanish and the Russians, who were close to missing out on the regatta entirely after a weight correctors were found in a prohibited location of their Yngling during measurement (see the full Jury Ruling here).

Qualification

The principal qualification regatta for the Yngling event was the 2007 ISAF Sailing World Championships in Cascais, Portugal where 10 of the 15 nations where decided. The 2008 Yngling Worlds in Miami decided final four national places. In addition there is one automatic place for the host nation China.

About the Yngling

The Yngling was designed by the originator of the Soling, Jan LINGE (NOR) in 1967 and was granted international status by the IYRU (now ISAF) in May 1979. The International Yngling Association was founded in 1971.

In 1990 the interior of the boat was re-designed to include a double-bottom cockpit sole, and self-bailers above the waterline on the side. Designed to be sailed by three, the boat is unsinkable, and a light and responsive keelboat.

The Yngling is a strict one-design class and, popular with both men and women, the class has separate open and women's world championship events with highly competitive fleets at both.

The Yngling was chosen as the equipment to be used for the new Olympic Games Women's Keelboat event at the ISAF Annual Conference in November 2000 and made it's debut Olympic appearance in Athens 2004.

The Sailors

Australia - Krystal WEIR, Karyn GOJNICH and Angela FARRELL

Ages: 23, 47, 26
Current ISAF World Sailing Ranking: 28

After a hard fought but ultimately unsuccessful campaign in the single-handed Laser Radial, WEIR seized her chance to go to Beijing by taking over the helm of the Aussie Yngling at the start of this year following an injury to Nicky BETHWAITE. The re-jigged team gave a demonstration of their potential straight out of the blocks, out performing many of the class' most established names to win the silver medal at the 2008 Worlds in Miami. Other results this year have been less impressive, but with their blend of youth, talent and experience this is definitely a team capable of upsetting the odds.

Canada - Jennifer PROVAN, Martha HENDERSON and Katie ABBOTT

Ages: 30, 40, 21
Current ISAF World Sailing Ranking: 35

The Canadian team qualified for Beijing following the withdrawal of the New Zealand Yngling. PROVAN competed in Athens in the 470, whilst both HENDERSON and ABBOTT are making their first Olympic appearance, although both come from famous sailing families in Canada.

Finland - Silja LEHTINEN, Maria KLEMETZ and Livia VARESMAA

Ages: 22, 31, 33
Current ISAF World Sailing Ranking: 14

The Finnish trio are one of the few new teams who have been able to challenge the established hierarchy in the Yngling class over the past couple of seasons. Aged just 23, helm LEHTINEN has already scored a number of successes on the skiff and match racing circuits and that talent is beginning to come through in the Women's Keelboat. The team performed strongly in Qingdao at last year's Test Event, eventually finishing in fifth place. On current form they would expect to make the Medal Race and from there, the team's match racing experience could prove to be a key asset.

France - Anne LE HELLEY, Catherine LEPESANT and Julie GERECHT

Ages: 37, 36, 28
Current ISAF World Sailing Ranking: 16

The two French Yngling teams had a lengthy battle for selection to the Beijing Games, but eventually it was LE HELLEY, also the French Yngling helm in Athens, who won the day. Four years ago LE HELLEY and her crew produced had a fantastic finish to the regatta, eventually finishing fifth and coming within three points of the podium. However, with her new crew line up of LEPESANT and GERECHT she has failed to reach those heights again and the team also missed out on competition at the two Test Events in Qingdao.

Germany - Ulrike SCHUEMANN, Julia BLECK and Ute HOEPFNER

Ages: 35, 28, 23
Current ISAF World Sailing Ranking: 2

Although they are making their first appearance at the Games, the German Yngling team start the racing in Qingdao as one of the favourites for medals. Over the course the of past year their World Ranking, currently at #2, has not dropped out of the world top five and in total Schuemann holds an impressive tally of four World Championship medals. The team did appear to be going through a bit of a downturn in form following their bronze medal performance at this year's Worlds, but were back to their best with a second place finish at Medemblik.

Great Britain - Sarah AYTON, Sarah WEBB and Pippa WILSON

Ages: 28, 31, 22
Current ISAF World Sailing Ranking: 1

AYTON and WEBB won gold in Athens with Shirley ROBERTSON at the back of the boat and the British trio start as favourites to retain that title in Qingdao. After success in Athens, the split of the victorious Yngling team set up a battle royal for the GBR berth at this year's Games. After trying out several crew members, WILSON switched from the 470 to join the AYTON and WEBB campaign at the start of 2007 and it has proved to be a winning combination. World Championship success in 2007 ensured their selection to Beijing and wins at the Olympic Test Event and the Worlds and Europeans this year put them in pole position for more medal success in Qingdao. Remarkably consistent, with only one non-podium finish (a fifth) over the past two years.

Greece - Sofia BEKATOROU, Sofia PAPADOPOULOU and Virginia KRAVARIOTI

Ages: 30, 24, 24
Current ISAF World Sailing Ranking: 12

BEKATOROU thrilled the home fans by winning gold for Greece in the 470 at the Athens Games, although so far her story in the Yngling class has been less successful. The Greek campaign has been full of stops and starts, although overall the team has made steady if unspectacular progress. They don't start amongst the favourites, but with BEKATOROU's proven Olympic history the Greek team cannot be discounted.

Italy - Chiara CALLIGARIS, Francesca SCOGNAMILLO and Giulia PIGNOLO

Ages: 36, 26, 28
Current ISAF World Sailing Ranking: 20

The Italian team qualified for Qingdao at the 2008 Worlds in Miami. With their limited appearance in the class, qualifying for the Games was a major achievement in itself. Have yet to record a top ten finish in any ISAF Graded Yngling event and it would be a great achievement to improve upon that record in Qingdao.

Netherlands - Mandy MULDER, Annemieke BES and Merel WITTEVEEN

Ages: 21, 30, 23
Current ISAF World Sailing Ranking: 4

The Dutch team took an unusual approach to their Yngling selection; choosing nine sailors and then constantly rotating them around three boats in different positions and crew combinations. The final team was chosen earlier this year and is led by helm MULDER, the top ranked Dutch skipper on the Yngling World Rankings at #4. She was also the helm of the Dutch Yngling which won the 2006 Test Event. BES is the most experienced member of the team, having also competed in the Dutch team who finished fourth at Athens. Aged 23, WITTEVEEN is another youthful member of the trio.

Norway - Siren SUNDBY, Alexandra KOEFOED and Lise Birgitte FREDRIKSEN

Ages: 25, 28, 30
Current ISAF World Sailing Ranking: 10

Without doubt the most improved team on the Yngling circuit this year. SUNDBY won gold in the single-handed Europe class in Athens and then switched to the two-person 470, although it looked like her Beijing campaign was at an end when her crew got pregnant. A vacancy at the helm of the Norwegian Yngling saw her return to the Olympic fold at the start of 2007. The team struggled to match the top names in the class in their first year together, but since a tenth place finish at this year's Worlds appear to have found a new level of performance. A win in Hyeres this April was a clear signal of the team's rapid improvement and marked them out as definite medal contenders.

China, PR - Xiaqun SONG, Yanli YU and Xiao Ni LI

Ages: 30, 28, 22
Current ISAF World Sailing Ranking: 17

The Chinese team were the surprise package of the first Olympic Test Event back in 2006, finishing third overall in a very high quality Yngling fleet in only their second ISAF Graded regatta together. The team's performances since have not quite reached the same level but have still demonstrated considerable potential for such an inexperienced crew. Results this year have been up and down, with a fourth place finish in Palma sandwiched between a 20th at the Worlds and a 14th at the Europeans.

Russia - Ekaterina SKUDINA, Diana KRUTSKIKH and Natalia IVANOVA

Ages: 27, 30, 24
Current ISAF World Sailing Ranking: 3

With a World Ranking of #3 the Russians and a third place finish in last year's Test Event, the Russians are amongst the medal contenders in Qingdao. SKUDINA and KRUTSKIKH can also both count on experience from the Athens Games (where they finished eighth overall), whilst IVANOVA brings a more youthful element to the team. Won last year's Europeans, but have never reached the podium at World Championship level.

South Africa - Dominique PROVOYEUR, Penny ALISON and Kim REW

Ages: 31, 33, 25
Current ISAF World Sailing Ranking: 11

PROVOYEUR, ALISON and REW are South Africa's sole representatives in the sailing competition. Past form suggests they are unlikely to feature amongst the battle for medals (their best World Championship finish is 12th in 2007), although this is a team that has improved steadily and a good performance in Qingdao could help boost their World Ranking into the top ten for the first time.

Spain - Monica AZON, Sandra AZON and Graciela PISONERO

Ages: 35, 34, 26
Current ISAF World Sailing Ranking: 6

The Spaniards are one of the most experienced teams on the Yngling circuit, with both Monica AZON and PISONERO competing in the Yngling event in Athens (finishing 12th). Sandra AZON joined the team in 2006 following her silver medal success in the 470 event at Athens and the amended trio found instant success in a stellar 2006 season which included victories at both the World and European Championships helping them move up to the top of the World Rankings. However, since that peak it's been a bit of a steady decline for the Spanish trio who have not posted a top five finish since the start of 2007, although their experience could prove a key factor in ending that record in Qingdao.

USA - Sally BARKOW, Carrie HOWE and Debbie CAPOZZI

Ages: 28, 27, 27
Current ISAF World Sailing Ranking: 5

Throughout the past four years the American team of BARKOW, HOWE and CAPOZZI have been amongst the leading crews in the Yngling fleet. The team missed out on the 2004 Games, but since then have notched up a long series of victories and podium places o make them one of the medal favourites in Qingdao. From 2005-2008 they have recorded, first, second, third and fourth place finishes at World Championships. Regularly end up battling with the British crew for top honours, and whilst the Americans had the edge early on in this Olympic cycle, the Brits now appear to have edged ahead. The team are also formidable match racers having won two ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship titles, skills which could prove crucial in a closely fought Medal Race.

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