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8 September 2003, 04:32 pm
Runners and Riders - Mistral Men and Women
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2003 ISAF World Championship
Bay of Cadiz

Due to a routing problem over the weekend, which saw the ISAF website down from Friday evening until lunchtime today, for which ISAF apologise, we were unable to bring you the latest in our Runners and Riders series.
We move from boats to boards today in our latest issue of runners and riders and preview the Men and Women of the Mistral class. Racing for the Windsurfing begins on Monday 15 September and the fleet are racing from Puerto Sherry.

Windsurfing Men - Mistral

One of the most physical of all Olympic disciplines, windsurfing combines intense concentration, tactical thinking, and pure athleticism. Races are short and sharp and mistakes are punished ruthlessly by other athletes.

Last year's world champion Gal FRIDMAN (ISR) is no stranger to this and returns this year to Cadiz, having already qualified Israel for Athens 2004, to defend his title. He has been one of the most consistent windsurfers this year, never having finished outside of the top four in the regattas that matter, and goes to the ISAF World Championships as a good bet to retain his title. Gal has past Olympic honour to his name, having won a bronze medal at the 1996 Olympic Regatta, Israel's only ever Olympic medal in sailing. He will no doubt be wishing to repeat past form.

There are probably one or two sailors that would dearly like to remove that title from his grasp however. Two of these will no doubt be Jon-Paul TOBIN (NZL) and Maxim OBERENKO (UKR), who are both ranked second and first respectively in the ISAF World Sailing Rankings. Challenges will also come from the ever present Nikos KAKLAMANAKIS who, without the pressure of having to qualify Greece for the Olympic regatta, will be out to win. If selected to represent Greece, which seems inevitable, the 2004 Olympic Regatta will mark Kaklamankis' fourth appearance at the Olympic Games, having previously placed 9 at the 1992 Olympic Regatta, Gold in 1996 and 6 in 2000.

Tobin, on current form is showing blistering pace and this looks set to continue, so he will be a strong challenger for the overall title.

Whilst windsurfing has been an Olympic sport since 1098, the women's event was only introduced in 1992, with the Mistral making its first appearance on the Olympic circuit with selection for the 1996 Olympic Regatta.

Nations Already Qualified for the 2004 Olympic Regatta from results at the 2002 Mistral Class World Championship:

Israel (ISR), Brazil (BRA), France (FRA), Great Britain (GBR), Argentina (ARG), Portugal (POR), New Zealand (NZL), Poland (POL), Ukraine (UKR), Spain (ESP), Hungary (HUN), Netherlands (NED).

Windsurfing Women - Mistral

Lise VIDAL , the 25 year old ISAF World Ranked number one from France, has shown good form recently and looks like a good contender for the title of World Champion. She finished a credible ninth at the Sydney Olympic Games at the age of 22 and since then has steadily grown in confidence and ability, to now lead the ISAF World Sailing Rankings since 30 May. Her first Grade 1 regatta win this year came recently at the SPA Regatta in Medemblik, and she has finished within the top four in any regattas that mattered this year and looks set for a fantastic future.

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Defending World Champion, Barbara KENDALL (NZL) returns to challenge onbce again for the title she won in 2002 and although having competed at only five top level regattas in the last 2 year period is still continuing to make a fantastic comeback to the discipline. Her ranking of 45 is perhaps misleading as she doesn't have the full seven regatta results to count, but in four of those five events, she has come out as winner.

Barbara is an old-hand at Olympic competition and will be one of the oldest female competitors at 36. She competed at the 1992 Olympic Regatta where she claimed the Gold medal, in 1996 claimed the Silver and in 2000 completed the hat trick with a Bronze medal. Who knows what Barbara will have up her sleeve for the 2003 ISAF World Championship and the Olympics. Barbara's performance over the past three Olympic Games, certainly marks amongst the greatest achievements of any Olympic sailing athlete.

Amelie LUX (GER) Olympic silver medallist in cannot be discounted. A top string of solid results, and she shows that with her result in Sydney, she can pull it out of the bag when it matters. Germany have already gained that vital entry to the Olympic Regatta so Amelie needs only to score her best possible result. Back in 2000, Amelie became the first German woman to win a Gold Medal in sailing at the Olympics.

What of Alessandra SENSINI (ITA), the outstanding Gold Medallist from the 2000 Olympic Games, who won her Gold on countback from Amelie LUX and in so doing made history by becoming the first female medallist in sailing for Italy, and only the second gold medal. Alessandra is currently ranked 13 in the world, and with a fifth at the 1996 Olympic Games, followed by the Sydney Gold will leave this high achiever wanting for more. Easily qualified for Athens 2004, and with no real competition from other Italian sailors, Alessandra will be purely aiming for World Championship status.

Within the fleet, it is only Barbara, Alessandra and Lee Lai, who have participated at each Olympic Regatta since the introduction of the women's discipline in 1992 - and they are still at the top.

Nations Already Qualified for the 2004 Olympic Regatta from results at the 2002 Mistral Class World Championship:

New Zealand (NZL), Italy (ITA), France (FRA), Great Britain (GBR), Germany (GER), China (CHN), Spain (ESP), Poland (POL), Hong Kong (HKG), Switzerland (SUI).

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To see details of all the Olympic sailors, or to upload your own profile, be sure to visit ISAF Sailor by following the link above. Tomorrow we will bring you the form guides on both the Europe and the 49er, the Single-handed Dinghy Women and the Double-handed dinghy Open.

Runners and Riders - previously published articles
Single-handed Dinghy Men - Finn
Single-handed Multihull Open - Tornado
Single-handed Dinghy Open - Laser
Double-handed Dinghy Men and Women - 470
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