Following the end of the ISAF Grade 1 SPA Regatta in Medemblik, Netherlands on Sunday, the latest form guide to the Olympic Classes has been released today.
As well as SPA, a number of other ISAF Grade 1 and 2 regattas are newly included in the points calculation for athletes who competed, and as we get closer to the Olympic Games, competition is reaching fever pitch and the closeness in some of the classes reflects this increased competitiveness.
Whilst there are new leaders of the rankings in five of the eleven events, many of those who are still at the top have been there for some time, note must be made of Freddie LOOF and Anders EKSTROM in the Star Class, they have been at the top of the ISAF World Sailing Rankings for exactly a year, and look good for the future, especially at Athens.
As well as the obvious SPA Regatta, the final few Olympic Qualification Regattas, themselves graded as ISAF Grade 1 events, have been included in this release, and as well as new World Champions, new nations qualified for the Olympic Games, and new sailors nominated to represent their countries, every sailor will have picked up valuable ranking points at the Finn European Championship, The 470 World Championship, the Laser World Championship and the Yngling Women's World Championship
Windsurfer Men and Women - Mistral
Apart from every athlete's best seven results from the last two years, SPA Regatta is the only new event included towards the latest set of rankings for the men and women of the windsurfing variety. Although that is the case however, there are still one or two interesting movements, especially amongst the World's best sailors.
(FRA), who managed to cling onto second in Medemblik by a slim margin from ranking leader Max OBEREMKO
(UKR), has popped up at Max' shoulder in second place in the rankings, whilst winner of the Dutch Grade 1 event, Joeri Van DYK (NED), who was previously a place ahead of Bontemps in the rankings, has simply moved up one place to seventh. Van DYK's result at SPA didn't quite have the desired effect: his win only counts as his fourth best points score over the last two years.
(FRA), who was a clear winner at SPA, has had her efforts rewarded with a move from third to first in the rankings. She replaces team mate Lise VIDAL,
whose absence at the Dutch Regatta dropped her into fifth place in the rankings.
(ISR), continues her rise in the fleet after her victory at the 2003 ISAF World Championships in Cadiz, whilst Barbera KENDALL's
return to form and her second place at the 2004 World Championship in Turkey, has lifted her into the top twenty in the World. Surprisingly, 2004 World Champion Alessandra SENSINI
(ITA), who won in Turkey with a race to spare, has actually seen her ranking position slide in this release. She now lies at 14 having dropped three places, but with the real regatta from 2004 looming, I doubt she'll be too worried about that.
Single-handed Dinghy Women - Europe
Both SPA Regatta and the Goldener Pfingstbusch are included events in this ranking calculation and with her utter dominance of the event in Medemblik, Siren SUNDBY
(NOR) is looking more and more sure of herself before the big one in August. She won convincingly in Holland and still leads the rankings. In fact, she has extended her lead on the second placed athlete from the 30 point gap in the May release, to 60 points in this latest calculation.
That second placed athlete is no longer the ever-chasing Sari MULTALA
(FIN), who has been battling with Siren for the last few years in build up to Athens. Sari has dropped to third and her position has been deservedly taken by Petra NIEMANN
(GER). Petra finished third in Holland and that result over Sari's seventh gave her the necessary boost to leapfrog the Finnish number one into second - by a mere eight points.
Single-handed Dinghy Open - Laser
(BRA), the record breaking seven time World Champion in the class has seen his position in the rankings drop from first to second, dropping behind the ever present Michael BLACKBURN
(AUS), who now tops the table by the slimmest of margins, four points over two years of competition.
These two hold a significant margin, in context, over Paul GOODISON
(GBR), who is returning to form consistently building up to Athens. Mark MENDELBLATT
(USA), confirmed as USA's representative in Athens, is another who's form has been improving and he makes an appearance in the top ten, rising a full nine places after his fantastic silver medal at the World Championship in Turkey this year.
Double-handed Dinghy Men - 470
and Malcolm PAGE (AUS), newly crowned 2004 World Champions, who returned to their winning ways after finishing second behind Gabrio ZANDONA
and Andrea TRANI (ITA) in Cadiz in 2003, only had a brief period off the top of the rankings and return to what they must be considering as their rightful position at the top of the list.
They replace Phillippe GILDAS and Nicolas LEBERRE (FRA), who drop to second whilst in third place are the young Italian Pair of Zandona and Trani. Their third place in SPA was enough to lift them from eighth in the rankings up to third, knocking at the door of the top two.
Gerald OWENS and Ross KILLIAN (IRL), Ireland's representatives at the 2004 Olympic Games in the class, have obviously been working hard and that seems to have paid off as their result at SPA, and a good showing at the 2004 World Championship in Zadar, Croatia, have pushed them into the top twenty in the World, their highest position on record.
Double-handed Dinghy Women - 470
In the Women's fleet, Ingrid PETITJEAN
and Nadege DOUROUX still top the rankings, exactly 100 points ahead of Jenny ARMSTRONG
and Belinda STOWELL (AUS), who themselves have overtaken Vlada ILIENKO
and Natalia GAPONOVICH to pop up into second.
New World Champions Therese TORGESSON
and Vendela ZACHRISSON (SWE) are now in fifth position after their victory in Zadar, ahead of multiple World Champions, Sofia BEKATOROU and Emilia TSOULFA (GRE), the Greek Olympic favourites having to pull out of the World Championship due to injury.
Double-handed Dinghy Open - 49er
Only SPA Regatta and the ISAF Grade 3 Balaton Championships are new events that potentially count towards the rankings in the 49er class, and as such, Chris DRAPER
and Simon HISCOCKS (GBR) still lead the open fleet by a relatively comfortable margin, but that margin doesn't tell the whole story.
Returning from time off due to injury, Iker MARTINEZ
and Xavier FERNANDEZ returned to the class with a vengeance at the World Championship in April in Athens, winning the title in a tough and competitive fleet. With a scoreline that included five first place finishes, they returned to the fray by winning the regatta with a race to spare from Draper and Hiscocks. This result has made a mark on their ranking position as they rise from 17 into tenth. Maybe they've timed their run perfectly for Athens.
More big movers are the German team of Marcus BAUR
and Max GROY. Ranked sixth before SPA, they were eighth in SPA and this was enough to give them second in the rankings, just less than 200 points behind the top British pair.
Single-handed Dinghy Men - Finn
2004 Finn Gold Cup winner, a result that completed his hat-trick of titles in the Finn Class, has regained the lead in the rankings from Polish heartthrob Mateusz KUSNIEREWICZ.
Despite finishing the other way round at SPA, the nature of the rankings in including only the seven best results from the last two years means that the pair have swopped.
(IRL), who was ranked 24 in the world going into SPA regatta continues the Irish climb to form highlighted by his team mates in the 470 class and pops up into the top twenty in 14 position. Joao SIGNORINI
(BRA) has nearly emulated this feat and jumped from 23 to 15 position.
Multihull Open - Tornado
The Tornado fleet have only one new event potentially counting towards sailor's scores for this rankings release, but that event, has made a difference as the fleet has a new leader going into Kiel Week. Roman HAGARA
and Peter STEINACHER are enjoying the highest position they have achieved since February 2003 and it couldn't come at a better time.
Always lurking in the top four, they have taken the leap of faith and with their victory at SPA, overtook Mitch BOOTH
and Herb DERCKSEN (NED), who have now dropped to third position. Also ahead of Booth and DERCKSEN are Santiago LANGE
and Carlos ESPINOLA (ARG), making a final bid for the top before the Olympic Games.
Keelboat Women - Yngling
The Yngling fleet is enjoying a stable period in the rankings for such a new class to the Olympic arena, the top two remain the same with Dorte JENSEN
and her crew of Hellen JESPERSEN and Rachel Kiel heading the list in front of Ulrike SCHUEMANN,
Winnie LIPPERT and Wibke BUELL (GER).
, Alessandra MARENZI and Angela BARONI have done their quest for Athens no harm at with a second at the SPA Regatta in Medemblik as they hop into fifth position in the rankings ahead of Betsy ALISON,
Suzy LEECH and Lee ICYDA (USA). 2004 Womens World Champions, Trine PALLUDAN,
Christina OTZEN and Ida HARTVIG (DEN) have risen from 18 to 15 position whilst Canadian representatives in Athens Lisa ROSS,
Diedre CRAMPTON and Chantal LEGER are now in 18 after their results recently.
Keelboat Men - Star
Freddie LÖÖF and Anders EKSTRÖM have been at the top of their game for a long time and at the top of the ISAF World Sailing Rankings in the Star Class for exactly one year. Although their lead is now tight, they still hold on over friends and competitors Iain PERCY and Steve MITCHELL (GBR).
The field is tight in the Star and with a vast number of nations to be represented in Athens, it is arguably going to be the most open competition, any one of eleven or twelve teams could come good on the day.
The big mover of the month is everyone's friend Paul CAYARD (USA). Until Paul and crew Phil TRINTER won the US Olympic team trials in style, no one was really sure what to expect from the pair who have amazing levels of experience between them and have worked hard to get to Athens. Their medal prospects can be in no doubt as the pair have jumped from a relatively lowly 23 on the rankings to a meteoric eighth position.
No one can bet it will stop there.
The next ISAF World Sailing Rankings will be released on 6 July 2004 up to and including Kiele Woche in Germany and the Austrian Lakes Eurolympic Week in Austria.
The ISAF Rankings online application will allow you to search for sailors by ranking, nationality, class, range of rankings. You can also view the events that constitute a sailor's rankings and his/her rankings career history/progression. Go to www.sailing.org/rankings, select an event and then click on the sailor's name for his/her career history and the sailor's points for the events that constitute his/her ranking.
ISAF encourages the reproduction of the ISAF World Sailing Rankings - the Official Rankings for Olympic Classes with due credit to ISAF.