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30 December 2003, 08:03 pm
The Final Three Months
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ISAF Year in Review

In the final three months of the year, and following the successful ISAF World Championship in September, the path to success became clearer for the lucky athletes who will be at the Olympic Games in Athens next year.
With less than 12 months remaining till the first race, from the celebrated Agios Kosmas Sailing Centre, the pressure is building.

The ISAF November Conference was held in November in the Spanish city of Barcelona. In this pre-Olympic year there were several major issues to be considered and decisions made, including the selection of events for the 2008 Olympic Regatta (with the decision on the equipment to be made in November 2005), final changes to the Racing Rules of Sailing 2005-2008 prior to their publication next year, the ISAF officials for the 2004 Olympic Regatta, the ISAF position on single-handed oceanic sailing was clarified, and Council formally ratified their decision of May 2003 to recognise Continental Associations. On the occasion of the Conference, the Timberland Euro Prix was awarded special and major event status by ISAF.

No ALT tag specifiedAs well as the meetings of the decision-making bodies of ISAF, the pinnacle award recognising outstanding achievement in the sport, the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards, took place on 12 November in Barcelona. Hosted by renowned sailorPaul CAYARD (USA), the Awards Presentation celebrated the successes of the world's best-known sailors. From a multitude of original nominations, a shortlist of eleven male crews and six female crews were selected, with the prestigious titles going to Russell COUTTS (SUI) and Siren SUNDBY (NOR).

ISAF also honoured the lifetime work of previous chairman and ISAF Constitution Committee member John TINKER (CAN) as he was presented with the Beppe Croce Trophy. Silver medals were also awarded to Steven SCHRIER (GBR), and posthumously to Alexander SOBOLEV (RUS). Both of these awards followed the presentation of a Silver Medal in May to Hans Joachim FRITZ (GER).

ISAF was sad to announce the passing of Heebum KWON, ISAF Council Member, on 7 December, and Nar Patti DATTA (IND), on 10 October.
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After months of speculation, on 26 November, America's Cup Management (ACM) announced that the host city for the 2007 America's Cup would be Valencia, Spain. Following the announcement, the revised, Version 5 of the ACC class rules was released, and the format of preliminary regattas leading up to the big one in 2007. The first man to wrestle the America's Cup from the grips of the New York Yacht Club, Alan BOND (AUS), and legendary sailor Gary JOBSON were inducted into the America's Cup Hall of Fame at a ceremony hosted by Rolex at the Herreschoff Museum in New York at the beginning of October. ISAF and ACM signed a partnership agreement in November.

The Rolex season continued with the Rolex Middle Sea Race, a 608-mile epic around some of the most spectacular scenery in Europe. Raced from the historic island of Malta, the route takes yachts anti-clockwise around the island of Sicily, passing the live volcanoes of Mount Etna and Stromboli, as well as some of the most remote Islands in the area before returning to Malta. Again it was the battle of the Maxi's, with the usual duo of "Alfa Romeo" and "Enigma", joined by Mike SLADE's "Leopard of London". In a race that was never going to see any records broken, "Alfa Romeo" followed on from winning line honours in the Rolex Fastnet Race, coming home first in Malta. Yet again though it was the slick crew from "Enigma" that enabled Charles DUNSTONE to walk away with his second Rolex watch of the year as they took handicap honours.

The ISAF website suffered a small period of downtime just prior to the ISAF Conference, and resulting from that the website is now hosted on a brand new server allowing the ISAF to provide an even better service.

No ALT tag specifiedThe Youth Multihull Evaluation Event, designed to select the equipment to be used for the future multihull discipline at the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships, was held during a blustery week in late October at the French resort of Quiberon in Brittany.

ISAF, in partnership with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), has undertaken dope tests for sailors competing in Olympic, Paralympic and youth events throughout 2003, and across all elements of the sport the tests have been negative, results that show that sailing lives up to it's billing as a clean sport.
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Olympic Solidarity work continued well into the final part of the year and it was good to hear from those who have been helped. Gideon KLIGER and crew Udi GAL (ISR) are benefiting from an Olympic Scholarship For Athletes "Athens 2004", and they reported on how the programme has helped them, following the ISAF World Championship and leading up to the Olympic Games in Athens.

US SAILING named its first woman president, Janet C. BAXTER of Chicago. Immediate past-president Dave ROSEKRANS passed the helm to Baxter at the organisation's Annual General Meeting in St. Louis on 19 October.

No ALT tag specifiedThe Transat Jacques Vabre, an Open 60 and 60 Foot Multihull double-handed race from Le Havre in France to Salvador de Bahia in Brazil saw the first outing of two new generation Open 60's, Mike GOLDING'S Ecover and the Bruce FARR designed Virbac for Jean Pierre DICK (FRA). The race was eventually won by Virbac, who on the return race to La Rochelle, Le Defi Atlantique, was dismasted. Mike GOLDING won Le Defi. During the race back from Salvador, Alex THOMSON aboard Sill set a new single-handed 24hr distance record of 466 miles. This record is still subject to ratification by the World Sailing Speed Records Council (WSSRC).

On the subject of records, Olivier De KERSAUSON and the crew of"Geronimo" set off on another attempt at the Discovery Route record, a popular passage record from Cadiz to San Salvador in the Caribbean current held by Steve FOSSETT's "Playstation". This record attempt had many objectives, including beating Steve FOSSETT'S record, driving the boat hard in the trade winds to achieve pure speed and sea-testing the new rigging, sails and crew… all with the aim of returning to Brest in good shape at the beginning of December. It was not to be however, and Geronimo returned to Brest early, to prepare for a Jules Verne attempt this winter.

Tracy EDWARDS, owner of Maiden II, the current record holder of the longest distance sailed by any boat in 24-hours, set at just under 695 miles, announced the largest sponsorship deal ever in sailing that would see the boat renamed as Maiden Ocean Racing Qatar. The deal, which includes full funding for no fewer than two offshore races, including a round the world race, will see a new boat built for the Maiden team.

For the first time in the history of the Whitbread Round the World Race, and the Volvo Ocean Race, the start will not be in a British Port.Vigo, in Galicia in Spain will host the start of the 2005 Volvo Ocean Race, in a course that sees competitors sail a series of in port races as well as adding short pit stops and mid-leg scoring gates. A total of five syndicates are now up and running, with preliminary entries received from a further 26 syndicates from 15 nations.
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The final ISAF World Sailing Rankings for 2003 were released on 3 December. Compared to the position of nations with sailors in the top three of each class at the beginning of 2003, the series of ISAF Graded events through the year resulted in Great Britain being overtaken as the top nation in the rankings at the end of 2003.

Despite having won the President of the IOC Cup at the ISAF World Championship in Cadiz in September, a turn around in performance over the rest of the year, has led to France propelling themselves up the overall table, to now lead with a total of six sailors in the top three in the world.

France top the rankings in no fewer than three Olympic classes, the Multihull open, the Single-handed dinghy women, and the Windsurfer women, where Lisa VIDAL, 12 on 5 February, has topped the rankings since July. Philippe GILDAS and Nicolas LEBERRE were 16 in the Double-handed men and are now second in the rankings, this follows impressive performances in the ISAF World Championship, the 470 European Championship, and SPA Regatta. This is a position emulated by their female team colleagues, Ingrid PETITJEAN and Nadine DOUROUX, who now top the women's Double-handed dinghy.

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France have overall increased their presence by no fewer than five boats, showing that as we move into 2004, they are sure to be one's to watch in the next 12 months. For the full list of rankings throughout the year, please click here.

In the final ISAF World Match Race Rankings of the year, a year that saw Ed BAIRD returning to the top of his game in winning the ISAF Match Racing World Championship title, Polish supreme Karol JABLONSKI finishes the year where he started, at the top of the OpenRankings. With the return of some of the America's Cup helmsmen into the world circuit, next year is shaping up to be an exciting and close battle between the world's best.

No ALT tag specifiedIn the Women's Rankings, it's still the Scandinavian's dominating. Marie BJORLING (SWE) has rarely been troubled, despite not winning this year's World Championship, which went to fellow Swede, and ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year nominee, Malin MILLBOURN.

There were no fewer than seventeen class world champions decided in the final part of the year making the total number of World Champions in 2003 just below 100. These include the IFDS World Champions, as well as the Match Racing and Team Racing World Champions.

A note must be made of fourteen year old Samuel "Shark" KAHN, (above) who sailed into the record books at the end of 2003, becoming the youngest person ever to win a Melges 24 World title and probably the youngest open international class world champion as well.

Formula Windsurfing Men


Formula Windsurfing Women

Christine JOHNSON (GBR)

Funboard Men






Laser Masters


Melges 24

Samuel 'Shark' KAHN, Richard CLARKE, Mark CHRISTENSEN, Brian HUTCHINSON, Brian LEE (USA)

Mumm 30

'Cheyenne' - Claudio RECHI & Carla UBERTELLI (ITA)

Mistral Youth Boys


Mistral Youth Girls


Mistral Junior Boys


Mistral Junior Girls


Raceboard Men


Raceboard Masters



Malcolm SMITH (BER)

Zoom 8 Boys

Charlie EKBERG (SWE)

Zoom 8 Girls


As the end of the year drew to a close, the renowned offshore classic, the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race set off on 25 December 2003, with Skandia taking line honours on arrival in Hobart on 28 December.

That concludes our review of 2003 in sailing, we hope you have enjoyed reliving the highlights and events of the last 12 months and wish everybody a happy and prosperous new year.

All five issues of the 2003 Year in Review can be viewed online via the Making Waves Archive at

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ISAF Year in Review 2003
Provided courtesy of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF)

ISAF Secretariat
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