Following the ISAF Grade 1 SPA Olympic Classes regatta in Medemblik last week, the latest ISAF World Sailing Rankings have been released today.
As well as being a perfect form guide leading up to next year's Olympic Games in Athens, these rankings are also the cut-off for granting additional entries to nations for the 2003 ISAF World Sailing Championships in Cadiz. Each ISAF Member National Authority is granted two entries per event at the Worlds, in addition to the two entires, for every sailor a nation has in the top 100 of class rankings, that nation may request a further entry. This is up to a maximum of four additional entries.
It is expected that not all nations will take up their full entry quota, and all requests for additional entries will come through ISAF, although entries themselves will be handled by individual class associations. The deadline for all entries by MNA's is 15 June.
There have only been a handful of graded regattas since the last ranking release on 8 May, but the all important SPA Regatta has caused some movement in the top twenty in the majority of classes. The Star class have had no less than three grade 1 events this month, both Eastern and Western Hemisphere Spring Championships as well as SPA.
As we get closer not only to the biggest sailing event of the quadriennium next year in Athens, and on the road to that the 2003 ISAF Worlds in Cadiz, every sailor at the top of their game is really beginning to hit their peak performance levels, the top of the rankings reflecting this competitive spirit.
We are also beginning to see some clear front runners for nominees to the 2003 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards, won last year by Sofia BEKATOROU and Emilia TSOULFA (GRE) and Ben AINSLIE (GBR).
To see all the regattas included class by class, and also those not included, click here.
Mistral - Men's Sailboard
Gal FRIEDMAN (ISR) has regained the top spot he lost briefly to Nick DEMPSEY (GBR), jumping back up to first from second place. A fourth place at the recently held European Championship in France was all that he needed to jump back to the top of the rankings. He now heads the table with almost a 200 point lead over second placed Jon Paul TOBIN (NZL), who himself has made a meteoric rise into second place following his popular victory at SPA regatta.
The top twenty in general resembles the aftermath of a particularly voracious game of snakes and ladders. Julian BONTEMPS (FRA) following his crowning as European Champion in Douarnenez has moved back into the top twenty and now resides firmly embedded in fourteenth place.
French windsurfers are well represented in the top twenty, having six sailors ranked.
Mistral - Women's Sailboard
Faustine MERRET (FRA) has jumped up to lead the world rankings for the first time in her career, ousting Natasha STURGES (GBR) from the top spot following the Europeans last week. MERRET has managed to finish consistently in the top five at regattas when it matters and a third place in Douarnenez, against STURGES' fifth, was all it took to make that small but significant step from third to first.
The proximity in time of SPA Regatta to the Mistral Europeans gave some the chance to make a difference to their ranking, with some of the top twenty missing from the line up at the Dutch regatta. Indeed that's exactly what French sailor Lise VIDAL (FRA) achieved, a win at SPA pushed her 14 places up the table, allowing her to slot nicely into sixth place, again, the highest position she has achieved to date.
There are ten nations represented in the top twenty, with France once again having the most depth at the top of the sailboard fleet.
Europe - Women's Single-handed Dinghy
Sari MULTALA (FIN) is tipped for great success in Athens next year and the rankings reflect her talent. Having held the top spot for a phenomenal 13 months, she continues to compete consistently at the highest level. Although beaten into fourth place at last year's World Championship, she has won SPA regatta twice and hasn't finished outside the top four in any graded events over the past two years.
Siren SUNDBY (NOR) and Carolijn BROUWER (NED) have switched positions in second and third place, with the Dutch girl slipping to third following her sixth place finish in SPA compared to a third from SUNDBY.
Petra NIEMANN (GER) is steadily making her mark at the top of the Europe fleet. Since 8 May she has risen from 15 to sixth, her highest place to date and represents the highest placed German sailor in the rankings.
Laser - Open Dinghy
Robert SCHEIDT (BRA), current Laser World Champion, is ranked fourth in this month's release, the lowest position he has ever occupied. The Olympic gold and silver medallist is regaining form though with a complete performance at SPA. Winning six out of nine races he won with a race to spare and proved he is as ready for this Olympics as he ever has been.
Fighting for the top spot is Paul GOODISON (GBR), having amicably filled the shoes of Ben AINSLIE (GBR) in the Laser he has held the number one position since August last year and is a prime example that consistency reaps rewards, having not finished outside the top four in any regattas contributing to his scoreline.
Mark HOWARD (GBR) makes his debut in the top twenty this time round, and Gustavo LIMA (POR) has improved his standing to shift into 15 position. There are 863 sailors ranked in the Laser and out of the top twenty, there are fifteen nations represented.
470 - Men's Double-handed Dinghy
Nathan WILMOT and Malcolm PAGE (AUS) are continuing to dominate the class, whose only ranked regatta in the last month was SPA. The pair didn't attend at Medemblick but still lead a competitive fleet.
Alvaro MARINHO and Miguel NUNES (POR) had a fantastic regatta at SPA and this is reflected in their movement in the world standing. Up from 15 to ninth position, they are slowly but surely regaining the form they held at the beginning of last year. Tomas COPI and Davor GLAVINA (SLO) have sneaked into the top twenty at the expense of Dmitri BEREZKIN and Mikha KRUTIKOV (RUS).
As only one event is included in these rankings the movement is small, but every point counts leading up to the Olympic Games next year and the ISAF World Sailing Championship in Cadiz this year.
470 - Women's Double-Handed Dinghy
The rankings have been blown well apart with the results from SPA, with triple World Champions, 2002 ISAF Rolex World Sailors of the Year and long term leaders Sofia BEKATOROU and Emilia TSOULFA (GRE) dropping from first to fourth, having not competed at Medemblik.
This has left the gap open for Jenny ARMSTRONG and Belinda STOWELL (AUS) to have their turn at the top, completing the Australian dominance of the class in recent years. Consistently in the top three, they made a brief appearance in the number one slot in July and August last year following their gold medal in Sydney 2000.
Again there is a small amount of movement in the top twenty with fourteen nations represented in the top twenty. Interestingly, although having not yet qualified their nation for the Olympic Games, Great Britain have three boats in the top twenty, potentially giving them three extra chances for qualification in Cadiz.
49er - High Performance Open Dinghy
The fight at the top of the 49er rankings is intense. Only 130 points separate the top five positions, and with national qualification for some nations depending on ranking points, every event counts.
On that note there is a new leader in the rankings, Ukraine sailors Rodion LUKA and George LEONCHUK have hit the top spot exactly 12 months after they last occupied that position. Their third place at SPA was close enough behind event winners Chris DRAPER and Simon HISCOCKS (GBR) to ensure they popped into the lead in the rankings. Former number one Iker MARTINEZ and Xabier FERNANDEZ (ESP) have dropped into fourth place, not having made the trip to the Netherlands last week.
Tim WADLOW and Peter SPAULDING (USA) shifted up a few gears this month, making the trip to SPA, and ending up with a sixth place which moved them up to 12 overall in the rankings.
Newly into the top twenty are Stevie MORRISON and Ben RHODES (GBR), the ex Fireball World Champion beginning to make his mark on the World 49er fleet.
Finn - Men's Single-Handed Dinghy
The difference between those who did go to SPA and those who didn't is highlighted in this ranking release. None more so than in the Finn, in which that event was the only included regatta.
The top two remain firmly embedded in their positions, the rankings currently led by Karlo KURET (CRO), followed by Mateusz KUSZNIEREWICZ (POL). Further down the top twenty, Sebastien GODEFROID (BEL), who finished second behind Ben AINSLIE (GBR) in Medemblik, has jumped from sixth to third, whilst Ben moves up one place to fourth in the overall rankings.
For Anthony NOSSITER (AUS), finishing ninth at SPA hasn't done his ranking any harm at all, proving beyond doubt that in order to climb the table, you have to start by doing the events. He has risen from seventeenth to ninth.
Tornado - Open Multihull
Very little change in the Olympic Multihull over the last month. The top four remain the same with the current French dominance of multihull sailing apparent, the top two slots well held by Olivier BACKES and Xavier REVILL in first and second respectively.
A big jump at the top of the rankings, from eleventh to sixth, has been made by Santiago LANGE and Carlos ESPINOLA (ARG), who finished fourth at SPA regatta and looked very able to win races, as long as they could stay behind the line at the start. Two OCS's put them out of the race for a victory in SPA but they are worth watching in the future. John Lovell and Charlie OGLETREE (USA) jumped an amazing ten places to nineteenth in the overall rankings after finishing 18 at SPA, another pair regaining their form from last year in this final build up to the Olympic Games.
Yngling - Women's Keelboat
Betsy Allison (USA), who as well as being ranked seventh in the ISAF Women's Match Race Rankings, is ranked number one in the Olympic Rankings, really is dominating keelboat sailing. She won in SPA and, with that, strengthened her position at the top of the rankings, a position she acquired in the last release and now holds with a margin of over 300 points from second place Melanie DENNISON (AUS) who herself has jumped from fourth to second in the last month.
Carol CRONIN (USA), has made the biggest moves in the top twenty, shifting from fourteenth up to seventh position. Popping into the top twenty for the first time in her career is Sharon FERRIS (NZL) following a steady rise and a ninth place finish in the Netherlands.
Still a relatively new Olympic class, the rankings are only now beginning to settle down as each team settles into the next busy few months.
Star - Two Person Keelboat
Three grade 1 events have taken place in the Star class over the last 30 days, therefore the rankings have been shuffled around more than a little. Winners of the Star European Spring Championship Mark MANSFIELD and Killian COLLINS (IRL) have moved into the top three, and are the highest ranked pair from their nation in any event.
Freddie LOOF and Anders ELKSTROM (SWE), who finished second at the European Spring Champs, have taken over the top spot from Xavier ROHART (FRA), this is the first time in two years that the former Star World Champion and World Sailor of the Year nominee has held the top spot.
But the winner of the biggest climber in the top twenty goes to Phillipe PRESTI and Jean-Phillippe SALIOU (FRA). Languishing in 27 position a third place at the Spring Europeans has shifted them up a hefty sixteen places into eleventh overall.
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