Next weekend competitors from 40 nations will converge on the Hague, the Netherlands, for the start of the 2010 Delta Lloyd 470 World Championship. With 123 entires in the Men's division and 65 in the Women's racing for the title, the class is once again demonstratying its global popularity.
Taking place over 12-18 July, this year's World Championships features all the top contenders in the 470 class, including past World Champions and Olympic medallists. Australian Malcolm Page
, Gold medallist in Beijing, returns with his new crew Mathew Belcher
having finished fifth at the World Championships in Denmark last year. Currently second in the world rankings, the duo arrive at the Hague on a high having recently at Kieler Woche. Page is not the only 470 Men's Beijing Olympic medallist with a new crew, bronze medallist,Nicolas Charbonnier
(FRA) now sailing with Baptiste Meyer - dieu
is currently eighth in the ISAF rankings with a win at this year's Semaine Olympique Francaise in Hyeres.
and Igor Marenic
(CRO) are looking to defend their World Championship title and go into the Event in sixth place in the ISAF rankings and with four podium finishes from six regattas this year.
'This year we have had great results," agrees Fantela. 'We were fighting for the medal in Palma, we got bronze in Kiel and also in Medemblik. We had good preparations and training and we feel really good. Maybe 10 boats can win the Championship. So we'll go there and sail our own race and see what happens."
Also expected to be at the top of the Men's fleet are two of the longest standing members of the class. Israel's Gideon Kliger
, third in three World Championships in 2008, 2007 and 2006, is now racing with new crew Eran Sela
. The pair are currently ranked number three in the world and have not finished out of the top eight yet this year.
Like Kliger, the Dutch brothers Sven Coster
an dKalle Coster
have been in the Men's 470 for more than a decade and have been number one in the world rankings almost continuously since the Beijing Games. A slow start to the season due to illness has seen them slip to fifth in the rankings but they come to determined to return to their best form.
'We didn't sail much in the first five months of this year. The results haven't been great this year, but everything is focussed on the Worlds - it all feels good," assures Sven Coster.
Also on top form are two time World Champions in 2008 and 2006 Nic Ashe r
and Elliot Willis
(GBR). They won the Delta Lloyd Regatta in the Netherlands this year - so perhaps Dutch waters could be lucky for the British duo again?
In the Women's 470, the class act this year has been the 2009 European Champion sGiulia Conti
and Giovanna Micol
from Italy, second in the ISAF rankings. They won both the Princess Sofia Regatta in Palma and Delta Lloyd and have not been out of the top four in the other events. Hot on their heels, however, are the current World number one duo, Ingrid Petitjean
and Nadège Nadège Douroux
(FRA) who have not been out of the top eight at the six regattas they have competed in this season and have been on the podium four times.
Strong competition will come from Lisa Westerhof
and Lobke Berkhout
(NED), who aside from being the local favourites are also the defending World Champions, last year demolishing the opposition to win by 26 points. Currently ranked sixth in the world, both Westerhof and Berkhout are highly experienced 470 sailors, Westerhof representing the Netherlands at the Games in Athens while Berkhout and her then helm Marcelien de Koning returned from Beijing with the silver medal.
Despite being unbeatable in 2009, Westerhof and Berkhout have had a disappointing start to their 2010 season and have only recently redeemed themselves scoring silver at the Delta Lloyd Regatta in Medemblik.
'We knew from last year that we still had a lot to do," admits Berkhout. 'We won all the events we sailed last year, but we still had to go through different things, like communication together, etc and we still had to grow as a team. We took the spring for that and it has been a good learning curve and at the Delta Lloyd Regatta we proved we are still one of the best teams. We will certainly have the possibility to be in the top three at the Worlds."
Predicting form in the 470 is always hard as British duo Luke Patience
and Stuart Bithell
proved last year when they finished second at the 470 Worlds. This year there is a particularly strong influx of juniors who will again be looking to upset the form book.
The 2009 and 2008 women's two person dinghy gold medallists from the Youth Worlds, will both on the water next week albeit with new crews. Britain's 2008 champion Frances Peters
is now with Eilidh Mcintyre
, while Brazil's Martine Soffiatti grael
, who won last year, is racing with Isabel Swan, the 2008 Olympic bronze medallist.
The 2009 boy's gold medallist Philip Sparks
(GBR) is competing too, also with a new crew, Chris Grube. The duo have been competing at all the events they can this year, but Grube admits: 'We have been quite inconsistent because we haven't had enough time yet to put a consistent series together across the wind range, so it is hard to predict how you think you will do." This will be Sparks' first time at a 470 World Championship. 'I am looking forward to it - a proper event that counts for something and involves a bit of pressure it would be good," he says.
Among the strong contenders coming through from the Juniors, reigning World Championship, Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic, consider France's Sofian Bouvet and Jeremie Mion to be the ones to watch. So far this year the pair have finished inside the top 10 at all the regattas they have competed in and in 2009 were both the 470 Junior World Champions and 470 Junior European Champions.
The Delta Lloyd 470 World Championship starts with a practice race on Sunday 11 July, followed by a qualification series over 12-14 July, the final series over 15-18 July, culminating in the medal races. Tracking - for both classes and all races - can be followed through the Delta Lloyd 470 World Championship website http://470worlds2010.com/.
For more information, visit the event web site: www.470worlds2010.com