The Olympic Sailing Season for 2003 has now well and truly kicked off with the culmination of the Athens Eurolymp at the weekend.
Sailed on the waters where in 18 months time the culmination of years of hard work for athletes will see the lucky few compete in the 2004 Olympic Games.
Following on from the Rolex Miami OCR in January this ISAF grade 2 events saw over 270 boats across the eleven Olympic disciplines taking the chance to compete at the venue of the Olympic Regatta. With the start of 2003 begins in earnest the final build up to the games - The second qualification opportunity for nations being at the ISAF World Sailing Championships in Cadiz in September.
In the Europe Class, Sari Multala (FIN) ranked first in the ISAF World Sailing Rankings proved her dominance once again by winning six of the eleven races and only finishing out of the top three once. Julie Trine Abrahamsen (DEN) in second place and Manon Borsi (FRA) rounding off the podium position followed her in.
There was some upset in the Laser Class when ISAF Ranking Leader Paul Goodison (GBR) was disqualified in race eight and OCS in race 9, two results that affected his overall position and dropped him to tenth overall. Kalle Suneson (FIN), ranked second in the world and sure to close up on Goodison following his result, won the class. Second was Arapov Mate (CRO).
The home sailors dominated in a number of classes, not least the Finn, in which Emilios Papathanasiou (GRE) led throughout, reinforcing his status as the one of Greece's hottest prospects for the Olympic Games. It was much the same picture in the 470 fleet. Sailed as a mixed fleet, ISAF Rolex World Sailors of the Year in 2002, Sofia Bekatorou and Emilia Tsoulfa (GRE) not only won the women's fleet, but finished fourth overall in the mixed fleet. Meanwhile, Andreas Kosmatopoulos and Trigonis Konstantinos (GRE), ranked second in the world, ran away with a victory in the men's fleet.
Olivier Backes and Laurent Voiron (FRA), following their disappointing result at the Miami OCR recently, came back with resurgent form, taking victory in the fiercely competitive Tornado fleet by just four points from second placed pair Andrey Kirilyuk and Valery Ushkov (RUS), proving along the way that consistency truly is the key to success.
Nikos Kaklamanakis (GRE) veteran Mistral sailor, ran away with the title here in Athens, halving the points of his nearest rival Nick Dempsey (GBR) in second. After a disappointing world Championship, he will be happy to be back on top form. Alessandra Sensini (ITA) won the Women's discipline.
It would appear that the Spanish are the ones to watch on current form in the 49er Class, taking the top two podium positions in Athens, victory going to Iker Martinez and Xavier Fernandez. In the women's keelboat, the Yngling, the Russian ladies again dominated, making qualification this year for the Olympic Games a likely prospect. And again, Greek Sailors showed that there is no excuse not to win on your home waters in the Star Class.
Athens Eurolymp was an ISAF Grade two ranking event and full results are available, class-by-class from the event website at the address below.