|BALATONFÜRED, HUNGARY-(11-6-2006) Getting closer to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, an Olympic Test Event only two months ahead, followed by the 470 Worlds close to the 2008 Olympic venue, racing at the 470 European Championships will start tomorrow at Lake Balaton in Hungary.
In the late afternoon today, 163 teams from 34 nations, off 6 continents have finalized registration and measurement. The current count is 112 Men and 51 Women teams.
It will be a very challenging event as nearly all leaders of the ISAF Worlds Rankings have arrived here at Lake Balaton to measure strength and progress half way Beijing 2008.
470 Men Title defenders Nick ROGERS with Joe GLANFIELD (GBR) will not be able to participate, as the team’s helm did not recover yet from a wrist fracture.
One of the favourites for the European Title 2006 is Italy’s first team Gabrio ZANDONA and Andrea TRANI, currently first in the Worlds Rankings. They seem to be as strong as never before after winning Gold at the Holland Regatta and Silver at the Princess Sophia Trophy and Semaine Olympique earlier this year. In 2003 they won the 470 Worlds in Cadiz.
Nathan WILMOT / Malcolm PAGE from Australia are ruling 470 World Champions, and winners of the ISAF Worlds Sailing Games in the 470 Class. They will definitely be a serious opponent, even as several other teams from Israel, France, The Netherlands, Portugal, Greece, Spain and many other countries that have sent their best double handed Olympic dinghy sailors.
Title defenders in the 470 Women are Ingrid PETITJEAN with Nadège DOUROUX. The female duo from France has been fighting true battles for every Title the last few years with opponents like reigning World Champions Marcelien DE KONING / Lobke BERKHOUT from The Netherlands and ISAF World Sailing Games winners Christina BASSADONE / Saskia CLARK from Great Brittain. In the past only Sofia BEKATOROU /Emilia TSOULFA from Greece could keep the female rivals away from Gold Medals.
Also Youth talents will participate in the 470 European Championship. Reigning Junior European and Junior World Champions Sime FANTELA and Igor MARENCIC from Croatia will challenge the seniors in the Men’s Fleet.
The opening ceremony took place tonight at 19.00 CET with a sailors parade and
the opening speeches of the officials.
Racing starts tomorrow at 11.00.