21 countries are represented in La Rochelle, with two more late entries from Greece, increasing the total entry list to 62 crews. There is no shortage of Olympic medallists, World champions and European champions vying for the 2005 title. Roman HAGARA and Hans Peter STEINACHER (AUT) match all three of those descriptions and the current Olympic champions will be looking to add to the World Championship title they won six years ago in Denmark. Darren BUNDOCK (AUS) will be attempting to win his fifth World title with new crew Aaron WORRALL. Mitch BOOTH is another former World Champion here with crew Herbert DERCKSEN (NED). Number one team in the ISAF World Sailing Rankings, Roland GAEBLER and Gunnar STRUCKMANN (GER), also count a World Championship title.
Home hopes are represented by eight French crews including winners of the ISAF Grade 1 Semaine Olympique Française in Hyères, in April, Xavier REVIL and Christophe ESPAGNON (FRA).
|HAGARA and STEINACHER will
start as one of the favourites
© Clive Mason/Getty Images
2004 World Champion and Athens bronze medallist Argentinean Santiago LANGE (ARG) will not be defending the title this year due to commitments with his America's Cup team, Victory Challenge (SWE). However, his crew, Carlos ESPINOLA, will be here as the single Argentine entrant. He will be crewing for New Zealander, Aaron MCINTOSCH, bronze medallist in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games in the Mistral, an event in which ESPINOLA took the silver medal.
The fleet also has a contingency of new sailors with a massive 13 crews turning out for Great Britain and nine nations represented by three or more crews. Three teams will be fighting for the 2005 Youth World Championship title. Thomas ZAJAC and Thomas CZAJKA (AUT), Baptiste BALZEAU and Gael LEDOUX (FRA) and Donald THINSCHMIDT and Andrew WIERDA (USA).
Races one and two of the Championship are scheduled to start today at 1330 hours local time.