Sailors of the 470 class are making their final preparations for this year's major battle hunting for the Grand Title here on the Bay of Cadiz. Racing starts tomorrow with the first two qualifiers.
Measurement has been going on for the third day now in a very tight schedule. Currently 105 Men and 62 Women teams have pre-registered and most of them have already arrived.
At the venue in Rota, sailors enjoy high air temperatures, lots of sun, a wonderful sea view, training on the water and checking up their boats at the boat parking while some 'Motown tunes' through the harbour speakers increase the pleasance of the atmosphere.
Now and then yelling can be heard from the measurement hall when the digits on the scale balance and finally end up just a few grams over the minimum weight. According to the Chief Measurer, approx. 25% of all measured boats so far are under the minimum limits and have to be compensated.
At this World Championship event, not only the Worlds Title is the main prize to win. For many sailors and their countries, the results of this 470 World Championship may be of major influence on their way to Athens 2004.
For instance, sailors have the chance to qualify at least their country for participation at the coming Olympic Games, and there are 13 nation slots up for grabs for those who have yet to qualify. Chances get fewer as the time to August 2004 gets shorter, and the final qualification chances come at next year's class worlds.
'For us it is important to gain our country qualification for the 470 Men, which is crucial to raise our funds needed to move on with our Athens 2004 preparations.'
said Alexander PLOTNIKOV, coach of the three participating Russian teams. 'Vlada ILIENKO and Natalia GAPONOVICH already qualified at last year`s 470 Worlds by ending up fourth.'
Sweden`s ladies Theresa TORGERSSON and Vendela ZACHRISSON started sailing the 470 in 2001. They have ambitions to participate at the Olympics. After showing some good results such as their Bronze medal at the last European Championship, both talented girls coming from the Europe class have good chances to make their dream come true if they show a similar performance as at the Europeans.
For the French, there could be even more at stake at this specific event. 'If one of us ends up within, say the first five, and the difference of performance is obvious, it is possible that a definite decision will be made regarding who will be representing France at the Olympics.'
said Nicholas LEBERRE, crew of one of the French teams here in Rota. 'Further this is an event with very strong competition where we can learn,'
he continues. 'We have done a lot of testing of materials ourselves, but at such an event we have the opportunity to take a look at the efforts of others and what materials they use to gain success.'
Threre is lots of interest in the Dutch camp where the final results of this World Championship event will answer many questions. 'Our main task is to qualify our country '
said Kalle COSTER, crew of the NED 1. 'Further, at this Worlds event we also have to obtain certain results to retain the status we have with our National Olympic Committee.'
Three Dutch Ladies teams are here at Cadiz to win best cards for participation at the Athens 2004 Olympics.
Other interests besides Olympic targets, is an aspect of honours. Last years` winners of the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award, Sofia BEKATOROU and Emilia TSOULFA from Greece, have a special mission; being World Champion 470 Women for the last three years in a row and now fighting for the fourth on the way to remain unbeaten within a complete Olympiad.
Today is the last day of preparations, with a training race starting at 2pm this afternoon.
There remains a much lighter easterly Levante today out on the water, which may or may not be affected by the land temperature, and the prospect of a sea breeze.
At the moment, the Mistral men have started their first race of the day in 15 knots, after a slight delay to wait for the breeze to build, the Finn class have also got their part of the championship underway, with the first group race starting at nearly half past one this afternoon.