Injury stops world champions from defending their title in Cadiz

Iker Martinez and Xabier Fernandez are not going to be defending the world championship title they won in Hawaii just over a year ago. The crew, Fernandez, was involved in a nasty collision at the recent Spanish national championship, which resulted in a wire tearing through his bicep, and rendering him unable to compete in the worlds which begin tomorrow.

This means that there is guaranteed to be a new world champion announced at the end of this regatta next Wednesday, 24 September. Among the 88 teams gathered, three-time world champion Chris Nicholson and crew Gary Boyd rank as one of the favourites, having just won the Pre-Olympic Gold Medal a few weeks before in Athens.

Aside from the Australians, two top-ranked British teams are fighting it out for selection for next year’s Olympic Games. Chris Draper and Simon Hiscocks finished second to the Spanish at last year’s worlds, and having also finished runner-up in the last two European Championships. Paul Brotherton and Mark Asquith on the other hand, have the confidence from having won Silver at the recent Pre-Olympics, so this is a match that is too close to call. Brotherton sounds confident enough. “We´re ready to win,” he said.

Pim Nieuwenhuis, the crew of the No.9 ranked Netherlands team, is also confident: “We hope to be in the top three overall. We did well in the Pre-Olympics. On the last day, we had to get second in one race to go from 9th to 5th overall, and we made it. If you really want it, you can have it.”

Others are not here to win so much as find their feet in the class, although America´s Cup veteran Morgan Larson, as someone who has finished in the top three of a past world championship, was perhaps being a little humble about his expectations with new crew Adam Koch. “We want to see where we are. We have no expectations. First we want to have fun.”

But perhaps the team with the greatest challenge is the one from Argentina, the new pairing of Marcelo Rodriguez Pons and Alfredo Gregorio Moreno. Pons said: “We started 49er sailing three months ago, and this is our first regatta – it´s going to be very exciting.”

Exciting is certainly the word, as the wind has been blowing very strongly during the lead-up to the regatta. This could be a test of survival and courage as much of good speed and tactics if the strong Levante breeze continues to blow on Cadiz for the next week.