|RIZHAO, CHINA-(6-9-2006) 470 sailors are all set to start racing tomorrow at the 2006 470 World Championship Men & Women, taking place from the 4th till the 13th of September in Rizhao, China.The opening ceremony took place tonight after registration and measurement got finalized during the last few days. The total number of 147 participating teams from 33 countries sets a new record for a 470 Worlds event taking place outside Europe.|
87 teams will start in the Menís Fleet, 60 in the Womenís Fleet. Racing will start tomorrow at 12.00 am and the event will be concluded by the final Medal Race on the 13th of September.†
Athletes have been preparing for the event during many sailing tournaments this year, and now look forward to the challenge of the 470 World Championships where the new Olympic format will apply on a senior 470 Worlds for the first time.
Since the decision was made that China will be hosting the Olympic Games in 2008, lots of different predictions have been going around about the possible wind conditions at the Olympic sailing venue. Same thoughts for the 470 Worlds 2006 in Rizhao, only 150 km away from Qingdao.
Reality comes as it takes place, and till now sailors have enjoyed a perfect 10 to 15 knots breeze and short-term forecasts do not predict less.
As strong performers in heavy winds, both reigning World Champions, Australiaís Nathan WILMOT and Malcolm PAGE in the Menís Fleet and Marcelien DE KONING and Lobke BERKHOUT from the Netherlands in the Womenís Fleet, will have a tough job defending their Titles, although the actual wind conditions are more favorable then thought before.
The 470 Men
Getting closer to the Olympics, new names of youth sailors move closer to the top.
It looks like the development of sailors especially in France is speeding up most.
At the last 470 Europeans on Lake Balaton held in June this year in very light conditions, all three medals in the Menís Fleet went to France with Gold for the BONNAUD brothers, followed by Ronan DREANO and Ronan FLOCH for Silver, and Pierre LEBOUCHER and Vincent GAROS for Bronze. The French influence was only broken by the Italians Enrico FONDA and Marco GUERRA who took 4th place, Nicholas CHARBONNIER and Olivier BAUSSET from France taking 5th.
Nick ROGERS and Joe GLANFIELD seem to be in perfect shape in this period.† After winning a Silver Medal at the Athens 2004 Olympics, they won Silver at the 2005 Worlds.† The Men from Great Brittain had to miss the 470 Europeans because of an injury, but they came back on the water in Qingdao last month to win the Olympic test event convincingly.
Current leaders of the World Rankings and 470 World Champions 2003, Italyís Gabrio ZANDONA and Andrea TRANI cannot complain about their efforts in the early phase this year by winning the Grade 1 Holland Regatta† and a 2nd place at the similar rated Semaine Olympique FranÁaise. At the 470 Europeans they make it to the Medal Race however they end up 8th. At the Qingdao International Regatta they do no better than a 26th position. It may raise the question if training was the target or it is the current situation. In a few days their efforts for preparation for this Worlds event will unfold.
Those who follow on second spot on the current World Rankings, Gideon KLIGER and Udi GAL from Israel won the Semaine Olympique, and ended up 9th at the Europeans.† Their 5th place in Qingdao last month, raise the expectations for their efforts during the Worlds event.
The Menís Fleet is full of very experienced sailors, some of them with more Olympiads behind them, in a perfect mix with young 470 sailors eager to hunt for Medals.
The 470 Women
Therese TORGERSSON and Vendela ZACHRISSON from Sweden, World Champions of 2004, Bronze Medallists at the Athens Olympics, win the Olympic Test event in a battle with the majority of their eternal opponents Ingrid PETITJEAN and Nadege DOUROUX from France, and Stefanie ROTHWEILER and Vivien KUSSATZ from Germany.
Missing in the Qingdao International Regatta were reigning World Champions† Marcelien de KONING and Lobke BERKHOUT from The Netherlands.
After winning the Holland Regatta earlier this year, they didnít manage to influence the top ten at the 470 Europeans, and it may be obvious that they want to unfold their training secrets at the coming Worlds event the next few days. In Holland, many eyes will be focused on them. As a result of winning the 470 Worlds in San Francisco last year, they were elected as Sports Team of the year in their home country, a very valuable prize where the best Sports Team is being elected out of all sports performed in The Netherlands.
Great Brittainís Christina BASSADONE and Saskia CLARK, still leading the current World rankings didnít show many remarkable results yet this year, except for winning the Princess Sofia Trophy and a 3rd place in the Holland Regatta.† After having a great year in 2005 winning Silver at the Worlds, they have a hard time staying on top after a 7th position in the 470 Europeans and a 15th in Qingdao.
It looks like the Swedish and German Ladies are in most consistent form. The Swedish win in Qingdao, a 4th place at the Europeans and some very interesting results at past events. The German Ladies won the 470 Europeans in very light conditions and become 2nd in Qingdao.
Results in the past provide no guarantees for the future. Also sailors set different priorities to each event. It will be clear that all athletes at this Worlds event are very aware that this event may be a very important rehearsal for the Olympics in 2008, only 150 km from the Olympic venue.
The time in Rizhao is GMT + 8
Racing will start tomorrow at 12:00
The 470 World Championships Men & Women will be decided by the Medal race on the 13th of September.