Defending multiple World Champions, Darren BUNDOCK and John FORBES, two of Australia's most successful athletes in recent years were her in Cadiz and on the hunt for another World's win. Joining them on the Tornado course, the largest in the bay, were 72 boats from 26 nations.
Dominating the early proceedings it was the unlikely pairing of Leigh MCMILLIAN and Mark BULKELEY (GBR), with possible Olympic qualification up for grabs and a World Championship to win, they had trained hard with Mitch BOOTH and Herbert DERKSSON, and have been developing equipment together, something that clearly paid off in the early part of the regatta as they developed an impressive lead.
Bundock and Forbes, currently ranked ninth in the ISAF World Sailing Rankings, had the best first day, with French duo Yann GUICHARD and Christophe ESPAGNON in second place, just in front of MCMILLAN and BULKELEY.
As proceedings continued, the breeze became more and more frustratingly shifty on the Tornado course, resulting in a close and high scoring series. The lay-day was lost to racing in order to keep up with the racing schedule.
Halfway through proceedings, after six races, Mcmillan and Bulkeley had popped up with a six point lead over Bundock and Forbes, and apart from one dropped race, looked good for a medal of one colour, and possibly the gold, to deny the defending champions their title. Into the fray had come perpetual Olympian in a multitude of classes Santi LANGE and Mistral convert Carlos ESPINOLA (ARG), who popped up behind Booth and Derckson into fifth place, with Roman HAGARA and Hans Peter STEINACHER in third. Only 20 points separated the top five, World class sailors, at the halfway stage.
In the end it was the Sydney silver medallists, Bundock and Forbes who proved their mettle with another title to add to their bag. The 2003 World Title is the fourth for Darren (1998, 2001 and 2002) and the sixth for John (1989, 1992, 1998, 2001 and 2002) who also won a Bronze Medal in the 1992 Barcelona Games.
They had a close battle for the title with the British pair coming on form, with Lange and Espinola in third place.
Countries qualified in 2003 for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, subject to ISAF ratification are: Spain, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, and USA. They join the five nations who qualified last year: Argentina, Australia, Austria, France and Sweden, along with Greece as host nations.
A further three nations will qualify in 2004.
For full daily reports, click on the dated links below.
Races 1 and 2, 18 September 2003
Races 3 and 4, 19 September 2003
Races 5 and 6, 20 September 2003
final qualification (lay-day), 21 September 2003
Races 7 and 8, 22 September 2003
Races 9 and 10, 23 September 2003
Race 11 and Medal Ceremony, 24 September 2003
Nations Qualified for the 2004 Olympic Regatta