Following the conclusion of the ISAF Grade 1 Kiel Week last week, the latest ISAF World Sailing Rankings - Official Rankings for the Olympic Classes - have been released.
As well as Kiel Week, other Grade 1 events included in the calculations for this ranking update are the Finn European Championship, the Laser North American Championship and the Tornado Europeans. These events have resulted in some surprising movement around the top of the tables and some additions further down.
With qualification and additional entries for the ISAF World Sailing Championship in Cadiz now completed, these rankings will not only provide a useful form guide as to who will be up at the top in Cadiz, but also those progressing through the ranks, and the ones to watch for the future.
Men's Sailboard - Mistral
There is a new leader at the top of the Mistral Rankings this time around. Maxim OBEREMKO from the Ukraine now filling a position he last held back in April 2002. This climb up the rankings from his lowest position of sixth in May this year, is largely attributable to a series of solid results at ISAF Grade 1 and 2 events. Despite a 14 place finish in last year's World Championship, he finished in the top ten at Hyeres and SPA, before crowning it with a fifth place finish in Kiel.
Oberemko's jump to the top spot is proof that you cannot retain a top position for long if you don't do the events. Nick DEMPSEY (GBR), after leading the rankings released in May, dropped to fourth in the next rankings and now plummets to eleventh place after apparently taking a break from Grade 1 events since the European Championship. Almost mirroring his position and jumping from tenth to fourth overall, fellow countryman Dom TIDEY, who likes to finish fourteenth at events, is achieving consistently highly.
Marcos GALVAN (ARG) wins this month's prize for the highest jump up the rankings with a meteoric rise from 31 to 17 as a direct result of having now completed the seven events needed for an optimum position to be calculated. He only needed a 20 place finish at the light wind Kiel Week to progress into the top twenty.
Women's Sailboard - Mistral
In the Women's sailboard, French dominance at the top is retained, but with a different name attached to it. Lisa VIDAL (FRA) has leapfrogged five of fellow competitors to reach the top of the rankings for the first time in her career history. This has resulted from a string of fourth place finishes and a famous victory at this year's SPA Regatta. This young sailor seems to be staking her claim on women's windsurfing and will be a top tip for both Cadiz and other events in the future. Faustine MERRET (FRA), previous number one, drops to fifth place, just ahead of Synthia GROS, who completes the three French sailors in the top five.
There is shuffling amongst the top ten but no movement into or out of it, the biggest fall coming from Natasha STURGES, who falls from second to seventh. Shiri RON (ISR) makes her first appearance in the top twenty after finishing ninth at Kiel. She now has a full seven events to count and moves from 28 to 19, her highest position having steadily climbed the rankings since October 2001.
The only other move into the top twenty is from ANNA GALENKA (POL), boosting her position from 22 to 16.
Women's Single-Handed Dinghy - Europe
The Europe Class is about to hold it's 2003 European Championship, the last Grade 1 event before the ISAF Sailing World Championships in September. The rankings are still led by Sari MULTALA (FIN), and in fact the top three remain the same with the only ISAF Grade 1 event counting into the calculation being Kiel Week. Kiel Week was won by Petra NIEMANN (GER), who has risen just one place in the rankings to fifth overall following that result.
Monika BRONIKA (POL), is slowly clawing back the ranking position she held last year and with a credible third place finish at Kiel, moves from 17 to 14, closing the gap on the top ten slowly but surely.
There is little extreme change in the Europes, but with competition about to start in the Europeans, the next release of the ISAF World Sailing Rankings will see some movement leading up to Cadiz.
Open Dinghy - Laser
Paul GOODISON (GBR) retains his number one position after Kiel Week, and now breaks the 5000 point mark in the class. He is closely followed however, by the ever present Robert SCHEIDT (BRA), who, in finishing second at Kiel last week, moves from fourth to second - nipping at Goodison's heels. Having won a total of six Laser World Championships, and been consistently in the top three in the World Rankings, one has to wonder if another Olympic Gold medal will be winging it's way to Robert in 2004.
Strangely, the winner at Kiel Week, Maciej GRABOWSKI (POL), despite his win has only marginally improved his position in the rankings, only moving up from 27 to 25. However, more importantly, he is less than one hundred points from re emerging into the top twenty in the world, a position he last held at the beginning of 2002 when he was ranked number 12.
Michael BLACKBURN (AUS) and Frederick LASSENIUS (SWE) both make an appearance into the top twenty this month, lying in 19 and 18 position respectively. Blackburn is continuing his swift ascent up the world rankings, with a series of top places, from the lowly position of 342 in the world he held less then a year ago.
Men's Double Handed Dinghy - 470
The Wilmot and Page Show (AUS), which has been running since October last year, ended today with the resurgence of Andreas KOSMATOPOULOS and Kostas TRIGONIS (GRE) into the top spot. There is clearly little to separate these two big hitters as they sit firmly embedded at the top of the world.
Further into the mere mortals, Gustavo MARTINEZ DORESTE and Luis MOLINA (ESP) have jumped six places into seventh in the rankings and show an improvement in form to push them back up towards the fourth position they held in 2002.
Meanwhile, Gabrio ZANDONA and Andrea TRANI from Italy have moved back into the top ten to tenth from sixteenth after their third in Kiel. This pair are building up to their peak as six out of their seven best events, which count towards ranking points, have been sailed in the last twelve months.
Women's Double Handed Dinghy - 470
Sofia BEKATOROU and Emilia TSOULFA, despite a lowly seventh place finish in Kiel, have jumped back from fourth, into the top spot in the world, but only by the slimmest of margins. Longtime rivals Jenny ARMSTRONG and Belinda STOWELL (AUS) are only fifteen points behind in second place, their fourth place finish in Kiel not being quite enough to ensure a retention of number one status.
Alina GROBE and Vivian KUSSATZ (GER) had a fantastic result at their home regatta in Kiel, winning the event and with it a jump of eight places up the World Rankings into fourteenth place. Fellow German's Stefanie ROTHWEILER and Monika LEU, who were second at the previous rankings release, have dropped slightly to fourth.
High Performance Open Dinghy - 49er
The British rivalry and the competitive nature of the fleet is highlighted in the closeness of the ranking points and the changes around the top. Most of the top athletes have now mastered the beast in terms of boat handling and places are now gained and lost with improvements in the top one percent of the performance curve. Nothing highlights this more than the fact that there is less than 500 points separating the top eleven 49er sailors in the world at this moment.
After a good result at Kiel and attending and competing in the 49er World Cup series, Michael HESTBAEK and Dennis Dengso ANDERSEN (DEN) are coming into there own with a move up to eighth from eleventh. The British are having a battle amongst themselves just behind the top ranked Rodion LUKA and George LEONCHUK (UKR) in first. Paul BROTHERTON has slipped to fifth (having been training in Cadiz and not at Kiel Week) whilst both Alistair RICHARDSON and Chris DRAPER have moved up.
Only one move into the top twenty, coming Marcin CZAJKOWSKI and Krzystof KIERKOWSKI (POL), who now occupy their highest position ever in the World Rankings.
Men's Single Handed Dinghy - Finn
Karlo KURET (CRO), who led the Finn ranking for the last two releases, wasn't at the ISAF Grade 1 Kiel Week, and finished fifth at the European Championship, which was recently concluded. These two circumstances have dropped the Croatian from first to fourth, replaced by Sebastian GODEFROID (BEL), whose third place at the Europeans was just enough to give him the sharpest of edges over rivals Mateusz KUSNIEREWICZ (POL) and Ben AINSLIE (GBR). Tis is the first time in more than two years that Sebastian has made
These three now seem to have a monopoly on Gold, Silver and Bronze, in whichever order they feel comfortable with at the time. Although only 17 points separate the three of them, they do have over 100 points over fourth placed Kuret.
Making a jump from 20 to 16 is Michael MAIER (CZE) building points back up with a high attendance level and some consistent scoring over the last few months, this was topped by a seventh place finish in Kiel.
Multihull Open - Tornado
Xavier REVIL and Laurent GUILLEMETTE (FRA) have hit the top of the Tornado ranking for the first time in their career and replace long time tornado gurus and fellow countrymen Olivier BACKES and Laurent GUILLEMETTE.
Following the European Championship, held in Italy last month, there has been a small uprising of new talent within the class. None more so than the South American pair of Enrique SUAREZ FIGUEROA and Jorge HERNANDEZ (PUR), who since the 8 May rankings have amassed an incredible 1500 points to jump into the top twenty into 16 position. They are beginning to stamp their mark on the multihull fleet.
Women's Keelboat - Yngling
If anyone thought that the Yngling rankings would settle down nice and quickly then they were very much mistaken. There is as much, if not more movement in this ranking release than ever. The only stability seems to be at the top, with Betsy Alison able to persue some match racing safe in the knowledge that her reign at number one will continue. She still has nearly a 400 point lead and despite missing Kiel Week, has yet to finish outside the top ten at a graded event. Ever.
Again, dropping back down to earth, the rest of the Yngling fleet are still trying to work out who is second best. Current big climber is Jody SWANSON (USA). She knew that simply by attending Kiel she would have enough events to count the full seven, and a 12 place finish in Germany propelled her from fourteenth to fifth.
USA seems to dominate the keelboat side of things with four skippers in the top five, whether that will continue, who knows. One thing is for certain, any one of ten skippers are capable of winning the World Championship in Cadiz the September.
Keelboat Open - Star
Not much movement in the star Class, with Iain Percy's absence from the circuit - he is currently competing in the Farr 40 World Championship - they have dropped from sixth to seventh, equal with Michael and Marcus KOY (GER). Freddie LOOF and Anders ELKSTROM (SWE) still lead, although with a ninth place at Kiel Week, Mark MANSFIELD and Killian COLLINS (IRL) have jumped from third into second.
One jump into the top twenty comes from veteran Star campaigner Torben GRAEL and Marcelo FERREIRA (BRA), jumping from 22 into 18 as the final push comes before the Olympic Games next year in Athens. Marc PICKEL and Tony KOLB (GER) used their home advantage at Kiel Week to it's full, winning the event and as a result jumping from 30 to 20.
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