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World Championships Regatta one month away

In just one month the ISAF Sailing World Championships will kick off in Cascais, Portugal. The event will determine 75% of national qualification for the 2008 Olympic Sailing Regatta, now just over 14 months away.

ISAF World Sailing Championships, Cascais, Portugal - New Zealand RS:X Sailing Team

RS:X MEN

Tom Ashley (YNZ Olympic Squad)
JP Tobin
Antonnio Cozzolino
Michael Lichtwark

RS:X WOMEN

Barbara Kendall (YNZ Olympic Squad)
Kate Ellingham
Steffanie Williams
Hayley Thom
Justina Sellers

New Zealand has a team of 34 entries amounting to 48 sailors in the regatta which brings together the World Championships of all the Olympic classes. Add support and coaching staff, and the kiwi contingent grows to over 60.

It is only every four years, in the year prior to an Olympic year that the different classes combine to have their World Championships at the same time and at the same venue. Cadiz, Spain was the venue for the inaugural ISAF Sailing World Championships in 2003 following which Cascais was selected as the venue for 2007.

The ISAF Sailing World Championships will take place in Cascais, Portugal from 28 June - 13 July, with the Medal Races taking place from 9-13 July. World titles will be decided in eleven Olympic class events, featuring over 1700 sailors.

Conditions in Qingdao, China, venue of the 2008 Olympic sailing are expected to be light and shifty, while on the other hand predictions are that Cascais, on the Atlantic Sea off Portugal will offer up more consistent wind. In August this year a small kiwi team, all current YNZ Olympic Squad sailors will test the waters in Qingdao at an Olympic test event, otherwise known as the pre-Olympics.

For the kiwi team the focus in Cascais is on confirming a place for New Zealand in as many of the classes as possible. Once a place is confirmed, then comes the business of selecting which individual or team in the class has medal potential in the conditions that Qingdao will offer.

"These Worlds are really important for our Olympic class sailors where the main focus is to qualify their class for the Olympics,” says Leslie Egnot, Olympic Logistics Manager. “We have sailors competing in every Olympic class bar the 49er and it would be awesome if the sailors were to qualify New Zealand for the Olympics in these events."

The New Zealand team for the ISAF World Sailing Championships includes all nine members of the Yachting New Zealand Olympic Squad, who through performance have earned the highest level of support. All of them have had impressive results already in 2007.

Board sailor Tom Ashley has raced in four major events this year, and won all of them. With wins in the New Zealand Nationals, the South American Championships, Trofeo Princess Sofia and Semaine Olympique Franciase, Ashley is in his best form ever.

For Ashley, Cascais is a shot at the World title which he narrowly missed in 2006 when he finished on equal points with Casper Bouman of the Netherlands – the title went to Bouman on count-back.

“My main objective this year is the Pre-Olympic regatta in August in Qingdao, and my training programs have been built around peaking for that regatta,” says Ashley.

“However, my form has been fantastic so far this year and I am already making huge progress with my fitness since taking a two week break at the start of this month, so I don't think it's out of the question for me to put out another good performance at the Worlds.”

“I would love to have another shot at the World title but at this stage I'm just happy to see how my preparation goes until then before making my goals more concrete.”

This will be Barbara Kendall’s first event since she won gold in the women’s RS:X board sailing at Trofeo Princess Sofia in April this year, where she also took out the overall prize for the entire regatta.

Hamish Pepper will have regular crew Carl Williams back in the Star with him after competing with stand-in replacements in recent events due to Williams’s commitments with BMW Oracle racing in the Americas Cup.

The Pepper Williams duo demonstrated their potential in the Star class in 2006 winning both the World Championships and the North American Championships. Cascais offers them the opportunity to defend their world title.

While so far this year the YNZ Olympic Squad sailors have been grabbing the spotlight, the large kiwi team has a depth of talent featuring some young up-and-comers whose performance in Cascais will be closely watched.

In 2008 each of the Olympic class world championship regattas will be held separately again – majority coming to the southern hemisphere ahead of the Olympic Games in August.

Four out of eleven of the Olympic classes will have their world championships in New Zealand in 2008, where the final 25% of national qualification will be decided. Takapuna Boating Club on Auckland’s North Shore will host the RS:X Men’s and Women’s board sailing world championships in January, followed by the Tornado world championships in February and finally the women’s single-handed Laser Radial world championships in March.

A further five of the class world championships are set to take place in Australia early next year and the remaining two will take place in the USA.

http://www.yachtingnz.org.nz/index.cfm?pageid=1&parentid=1&nid=662

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