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12 March 2008, 09:19 am
Women Stars Prepare For Laser Radial Worlds
Tatiana DROZDOVSKAYA at the 2007 ISAF Sailing World Championships
Tatiana DROZDOVSKAYA will defend her Laser Radial World title in Takapuna

Laser Radial World Championship 2008
Takapuna, Auckland, New Zealand

The world's top female singlehanded dinghy sailors are in Auckland, New Zealand preparing for the start of the ISAF Grade W Laser Radial Worlds this weekend.
Racing for the 2008 women's Laser Radial World Championship will start on Saturday 15 March off Takapuna Beach, North Shore City, Auckland. One hundred and twenty entries are already confirmed with representatives from 40 countries in North Shore City for this World Championship and Olympic qualifying event. Many competitors are in Takapuna already and have been training on the Hauraki Gulf in preparation for the event, familiarizing themselves with local conditions on the race track.

Not only is the 2008 World title up for grabs, but many sailors are here to try and earn for their country, one of the six remaining Olympic berths on offer at this regatta. For many countries who have already accomplished qualification this regatta will determine which of their sailors will get the nod for the Olympic Games.

Jo ALEH will represent New Zealand five months from now at the Olympic Games, and is one of ten kiwis competing in the women's Laser Radial World Championships here in Takapuna.

"I think it's great to have the Worlds here in Auckland, as it should be great to finally have some hometown advantage," says ALEH. "Although with Auckland weather you never really know what will happen anyway."

"This years Worlds are a very important regatta. Being the last Worlds event before the Olympics in August it will be very interesting to see just how everyone is going, and how the line up at the top will change from last year," she continues. "Also, it is a qualification regatta, not only for country's Olympic spots, but also for individuals trying to win their national trials."

ALEH likes Takapuna as a venue, but knows well enough that you never quite know what the weather will do over the course of the regatta.

"Takapuna is a great place to sail and an awesome place for a World Champs. The conditions are just so variable, you can expect anything - as everyone who has been training there for the past few weeks will by now know. So it really does keep things interesting," says ALEH.

Having hosted both the RS:X and the Tornado World Championships over the last two months Takapuna Boating Club is well prepared and excited about the Radials.

"It is a privilege and a pleasure to add the 2008 Laser Radial Women's World Championship into the regatta of Worlds that we have been fortunate to host in the first three months of 2008," says Event Director, Grant CUNNINGHAM.

"We are indeed lucky to have the facilities, the assistance from neighbouring yacht clubs and a raft of willing volunteers to make this championship memorable for all the competitors from around the world. We look forward to some great sailing and fierce competition."

Racing is scheduled to start at 11:00 hours daily with two races planned on each of the six days of competition.

Olympic Qualification

Twenty of the maximum 26 Olympic Laser Radial berths have already been decided, however for nations who have not yet qualified this regatta is the final chance to collect one of the six remaining places. There are 23 nations entered to compete in Takapuna who are yet to qualify so the battle will be fierce.

Yet to qualify, and competing in Auckland…

Brazil, Croatia, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Spain, Estonia, Greece, India, Ireland, Virgin Islands, Japan, Latvia, Malaysia, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Serbia, Sweden, Chinese Taipei, Turkey and Venezuela will fight it out for the final six Olympic places up for grabs.

Already qualified…

Argentina, Australia, Belarus, Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Switzerland and USA all qualified at the 2007 ISAF Sailing World Championships sailed in Cascais, Portugal. And as host nation, China automatically qualifies for a berth.

Top Contenders

Tatiana DROZDOVSKAYA - Belarus
2007 World Champion

Sari MULTALA - Finland
2007 World Championship silver medallist

Evi VAN ACKER - Belgium
2007 Laser Radial European Champion

Sarah STEYAERT - France
2007 Laser Radial European Championships silver medallist

Jo ALEH - New Zealand
ISAF World Ranked #1

Anna TUNNICLIFFE - USA
ISAF World Ranked #2

Lijia XU - China
2006 World Champion

Laser Radial World Championship - www.takapunaworlds.org
Jodie Bakewell-White
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