Forty five nations have qualified for the Olympic sailing at Weymouth while the Brits are in the hunt to haul more medals in Perth
As the fleet racing draws to a close at the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships, 45 nations have qualified their country to compete at the London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition.
On the penultimate day of racing at Perth 2011 the final Laser spots and the Men’s RS:X and Women’s 470 places were taken ahead of tomorrow’s live Medal Races.
Twenty four nations had already qualified in the Laser and after the Silver fleet completed racing today a further 11 have joined them. Belgium, China Finland, Norway, Russia, Singapore, Slovenia, Switzerland, Turkey, Uruguay and US Virgin Islands all put in the big performances when it mattered to qualify their nation for London 2012.
The final 12 spots will be available at the 2012 Laser World Championship from 4-12 May next year in Boltenhagen, Germany.
In the Women’s 470 14 nations qualified at Perth 2011. Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Spain, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Slovenia, Sweden and the USA all came through to take the qualification places.
Slovenia’s Tina Mrak and Teja Cerne had their best days sailing at Perth 2011 to climb from the 17th ranked nation, and outside the qualification places, to the 13th ranked. The girls found out the news as soon as they reached the shore and were delighted, Mrak said, “We sailed two great races today. We improved on every lap and we are very happy.”
“After yesterday we were angry,” added Cerne, “and we didn’t believe we could do it so it is a really great feeling at the end of the championship.”
Five more nations have the opportunity to qualify at the 2012 470 World Championships from 10-19 May 2012 in Barcelona, Spain.
With 29 nations in the Men’s RS:X Gold fleet the battle for one of 28 places was tight. Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Spain, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Lithuania, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Switzerland, Ukraine and the USA all qualified. And for the remaining nations vying for an Olympic spot they will have to try again at the 2012 RS:X World Championship in Cadiz, Spain in March next year.
With qualification out of the way the Medal Race action tomorrow will see ten of the best teams compete for World Championship glory in their respective classes. The Women’s 470 Medal Race kicks off the action at 13:10 local time followed by the 49er, Men’s RS:X and Laser.
Meanwhile in the British camp Skandia GBR are holding out for three medals in the last four events of the ISAF Perth World Championships. Here’s the official press release on the eve of the medal races.
Britain’s sailors will look to come out fighting on the final day of racing at the Perth 2011 World Championships on Sunday (18 December) when they’ll be in the medal hunt in three of the four classes.
A tough day final day of gold fleet racing for overnight 49er series leaders John Pink and Rick Peacock leaves them out of reach of gold, but with silver still in sight, while the battle for the Laser class podium spots will be a close one as just eleven points separate the second to seventh-placed boats, with Skandia Team GBR’s Nick Thompson and Paul Goodison within that mix.
A race win for Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark in their second race of the day has elevated them into the bronze medal spot in the 470 Women’s event, with just the 10-boat double points-scoring medal race to go on Sunday.
In the 49er class, Pink and Peacock saw their narrow lead slip away as slow starts left them at the back of the fleet in two of their day’s three races.
“It was a tough day and we didn’t do as well as we could have hoped, but we’re still hanging in there and in with a chance of a medal,” the 2009 world silver medallist Pink explained.
“We’re third now with the possibility of second so it’s all still to play for. It would have been a bit nicer to have a slightly better day, but these things happen, and we’ll hopefully do well on the water tomorrow.”
“It was a difficult start in the first race. It was kind of a gain feature left and we just didn’t get a very good start,” Pink recalled of his disappointing day. “We tried to double tack up a bit too late and we were sat on the line not moving when everyone was going really.
“In the second race we got off the line, we got a good start, we sailed well, we overtook boats and we were making gains all the way around the course which was good.
“Then coming into the third race, we knew what was winning in terms of the tactics for the day and we just executed our start badly again, annoyingly, and that set us up not very well for that beat.
“We made a few bad choices and that then put us back, and it’s always frustrating when you go backwards rather than forwards!”
In spite of their setbacks today, Pink and Peacock will look to come out fighting for the medal race on Sunday. The Australian pairing of Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen look to have gold in the bag, so the Skandia Team GBR duo will look to overturn the Danish Toft Nielsen brothers for the silver medal spot.
“We’re as confident as we ever can be [heading into tomorrow],” said the 28-year-old Pink.
“We’ve sailed really well all week and we’re still in with a chance of a medal. If you’d said at the beginning of the week that we’d have the chance of doing as well as we have then we would probably have taken it. It’s just always frustrating when you go backwards.”
Dave Evans and Ed Powys will also feature in Sunday’s 49er medal race, having made the cut in ninth overall.
Nick Thompson will look to make it a hat-trick of Worlds podium finishes in the Laser class when he heads out on Sunday. Thompson, who claimed bronze at the 2009 event and silver last year on home waters at Hayling Island, finished 31,10 in his two races but retains the bronze medal spot going into the final day.
Australia’s defending world titleholder Tom Slingsby has a theoretically assailable 14 point lead, but with the points between the remaining medal race contenders so close, Thompson knows the battle will be for the remaining podium spots.
“There are certainly a lot of guys who are chasing my tail and I’m not too far away from second so I think tomorrow it will be just about treating it as an open playing field,” said Thompson on his approach to Sunday’s finale.
“There’s not much I can do other than try and do as best I can in the race. The points are all very close all the way through so I’ll try and win the race.”
Paul Goodison’s challenge was dented with 21,11 from his two races today, but in sixth place and just seven points from his teammate in third, he still has a chance of a podium spot.
Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark managed to convert their “average” week into a late surge into the top three of the 470 women’s event today, with the help of a race win in their second race of the day.
They’re now sitting in third overall, six points behind the second-placed Israeli team, but with three crews poised ominously just behind them in the standings
“Now we’re looking back on our points we’re a bit gutted about that first race as we lost a few points which would’ve been nice to have going into tomorrow,” said Clark, who added that a good start will aid their pair’s prospects
“We’ve really struggled to get off the startline this week and actually in the two races that we have, the one we did today we came first and the one earlier in the week we came third. That’s really let us down this week. Other than that, from the first windward mark we’ve sailed really well. We just need to work out or starting and our first beat really.”
“We’ll go full on into tomorrow to try and improve a bit and try and hold on to what we’ve got.”
Skandia Team GBR will have a second crew in the medal race, with Penny Clark and Katrina Hughes currently in seventh, while Nick Dempsey saved the best until last in the RS:X men’s windsurfing event.
It wasn’t enough for the 2009 World Champion to book a spot in the final medal race, having struggled with the Perth conditions this week, but he had his best day of the regatta, picking up 10,4 to finish in 13th overall and one place ahead of development squad sailor Elliot Carney in 14th.
Medal race schedule, Sunday 18 December
1310 – 470 Women
1410 – 49er
1510 – RS:X Men
1610 – Laser