With three more events concluded yesterday, we are now into day 12 of the 2003 ISAF World Championship with six more event titles yet to be decided.
Last night's Medal Ceremony for the windsurfer men, windsurfer women and keelboat men was an impressive affair, with a huge number of spectators and fans. Keeping up the form of the Yngling sailors at Saturday's Medal Ceremony, last night also saw many find their way into the pool.
An evening made more memorable, when one considers the history made by Lee KORSITZ (ISR) who has become the first woman from Israel to win a World Championship in any sport. Israel has sent teams to each of the four World Championships which have taken place over the past month, but it is only in sailing in which medals have been won. This is certain to be an even bigger boost for the sport in Israel. Israel's first and only Olympic Medal in sailing was at the 1996 Olympic Regatta in Savannah, USA when Gal FRIDMAN took the bronze. 2004 looks as though it will be a big year for Israel, as not only are the windsurfers set to perform, but they are looking very good in the double-handed dinghy men and women events in the 470.
Today sees the penultimate day in the finals of the single-handed dinghy men event in the Finn, and it is defending World Champion Ben AINSLIE (GBR) who has fought his way back to the top, ousting the earlier leader Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN (DEN). Also up with Ben is Andrew SIMPSON (GBR), only 5 points behind in second overall. There is every change that if Ben puts in more top results today, that he could claim the Gold with a day to spare - we will see. Looking towards Olympic selection, unlike many other countries that resort to a series of events or trials, the British policy is that if any "A" funded sailor finishes in the top three in Cadiz, they will automatically be selected to represent Great Britain. So Ben's appearance in Athens is secure, even if Andrew (a "B" funded sailor) takes Gold.
The Tornado, 49er, Laser and 470 events enter their first day of finals, with the cut to the final fleets having been made yesterday.
No-one will be surprised to see Sofia BEKATOROU and Emilia TSOULFA (GRE) at the top in the double-handed women's event. With a clear points margin and a scoreline of top two places, they will be hard to beat. However, the second placed British pairing of Christina BASSADONE and Katherine HOPSON and Vlada ILIENKO (RUS) and Natalia GAPONOVICH will do their best, but only really look as though they have a shot at the Silver and Bronze.
Over in the men's event it is the Italians Gabrio ZANDONA and Andrea TRANI who are currently in Gold Medal position. However, with a 20 in yesterday's race 6 which is now discarded, they cannot afford to place another double figure result, as behind them the chasing pack is close. Gustavo MARTINEZ DORESTE and Dimas WOOD have a single figure scorecard and sit in second place, just ahead of Andreas KOSMATOPOULOS and Kostas TRIGONIS.
In the multihull open event, another good result so far for the British team, with Leigh MCMILLAN and Mark BULKELY in Gold position, ahead of defending World Champions Darren BUNDOCK and John FORBES in second and Roman HAGARA (AUT) and Hans Peter STEINACHER in third. Whilst the top two boats have a good points margin after the first six races, anything can happen and they are already discarding some double-figure results, so will be extremely cautious to remain consistent and place top ten in the coming races.
Moving to the 49er fleet, we again see a British pair at the top with Chris DRAPER and Simon HISCOCKS leading the fleet, with a scoreline of top four results, ahead of Andre Otto FONESCA and Rodrigo LINCK DUARTE. The British crew have an excellent points margin at this early stage, but behind them there is only a 5 point spread over the next five boats. In third sits Marcus BAUR (GER) and Max GROY.
Meanwhile over in the single-handed dinghy open fleet in the Laser, there is a battle at the top between Gustavo LIMA (POR) and the man synonymous with Laser sailing Robert SCHEIDT (BRA). Robert, who is a six time World Champion, will be fighting hard to overtake Gustavo, but with the pair both posting superb results with no slips so far, this will shape up to be a fight to the end. In third is Michael BLACKBURN, the bronze medallist from the 2000 Olympic Regatta.
Looking towards the future, Monday also sees the start of the Windsurfing Presentation Event at which ISAF will look at various boards that are seeking selection as the equipment for the 2008 Olympic Regatta. However, prior to that the windsurfers of the world need to prove that windsurfing merits the two medals the event currently enjoys at the Olympics. Some say, that two medals out of eleven is too much, and that the number of medals should reflect the participation of the sport around the world. Others feel the two medals are totally justified as windsurfing is enjoyed by many around the world, but it is the equipment which needs a change, and there are many other opinions in between.
Whilst the selection of windsurfing as an event to be on the sports scheduled for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing is due to be decided in November 2003, the decision on the equipment will take place a year later in November 2004.
So, the aim of the Presentation Event here in Cadiz is for manufacturers to present possible equipment and for ISAF to seek feedback from sailors not only on the equipment, but also the event format.
The Presentation Event will take place over the next three days, with the equipment available for testing by the sailors in the morning, with public presentations of the equipment and one on one meetings between ISAF and the manufacturers in the afternoon.
A formal Evaluation Trials will take place from 3-8 May 2004 in Torbole, Italy, the same venue as the high-performance dinghy trials, which saw the selection of the 49er for the 2000 Olympic Regatta. For full details Click Here.