Over 1,200 sailors from 60 countries will compete in the Spa Olympic classes regatta which starts tomorrow

Over 1,200 sailors from 60 countries will compete in the Spa Olympic classes regatta which starts tomorrow. The International Sailing Centre in Medemblik, Holland, will host the 18th SPA Regatta for all 11 of the Olympic classes.

The 470 Men and Women, Europe, Laser and Mistral classes will commence racing in the morning and the 49er class, Finn, Star, Yngling and Tornado in the afternoon. The Europe class is expecting over 100 entries and the fleet will therefore be split into three. The Laser class is also expecting a record 160 entries and will also be split into three groups. High entry numbers are also expected in the 49er, Mistral Men’s fleet, 470 Men’s fleet and Finn class and therefore they will be split in half.

Over the first three days of the regatta the split classes will be qualifying for a place in the Gold fleet for the last two days of racing, the winner of the Gold fleet will be the overall winner of the regatta in that class.

Racing should be testing for the sailors this week on all of the six race areas as the forecast is due to be fairly windy all week, with an offshore breeze, which could see some gusts and shifty conditions on some of the courses. Added to the fact that the water is only three metres deep in some places, racing should be exciting.

Fresh from success at the Hyeres Olympic Classes Regatta last month, RYA team GBR sailors will be looking to repeat that performance and in some classes better it. Laser sailor Paul Goodison has had a good year so far and after winning Hyeres Regatta, has been training hard in Holland, competing in an International Laser Event in Muiden over the weekend. The battle between himself and five-times world champion Robert Scheidt of Brazil continues, after beating Scheidt in Hyeres in April, Scheidt retaliated at the Laser Event in Muiden, taking the poll position, with Goodison in second after being scored over the line on the final race of the regatta. This week will see them come head to head again and Goodison will be hoping to get the advantage over Scheidt again. Fellow team GBR Laser sailor Edward Wright will also be looking for a good week after finishing sixth in Hyeres and fourth at the recent Laser event in Muiden.

Mistral sailor Dom Tidey will also be looking to repeat his success in Hyeres, after finishing with his best international regatta result, a second place, he will be looking to continue his winning form. Team mate Nick Dempsey should be back on form this week, after a disappointing year so far, plagued with illness, he should be back up to full health this week and looking to get some good results under his belt.

In the Women’s Mistral class, team GBR sailor Natasha Sturges has returned to Europe after extensive training in Australia, and will be hoping that her hard work over the winter months has paid off.

There should be some exciting racing this week in the 66 boat 49er class. The 49ers will be looking to get some good results prior to their world championship next month. RYA team GBR sailor Paul Brotherton sailing with his new crew of Mark Asquith will be looking to repeat his podium finish from Hyeres, team mates Chris Draper, sailing with Sydney Olympic Silver Medallist Simon Hiscocks, and Alister Richardson, sailing with Peter Greenhalgh, will be looking to repeat their top ten performances from Hyeres and hopefully better them.

Olympic Gold Medallist in the Europe Class, Shirley Robertson sailing with Sarah Ayton and Inga Leask finished on the podium in Hyeres at their first international regatta sailing as this crew combination, a result they were pleased with and will be keen to repeat. Fellow British Yngling sailor Nicole Johnson finished 16th in Hyeres and will be looking to make her mark in this new Olympic Class.

After not competing at Hyeres, the Star class has returned for Spa with over 50 boats competing. Olympic Gold Medallist Iain Percy and Steve Mitchell, have spent a lot of time training in America, with recent success at the Star Spring Championships in Florida where they finished in second place. They now return to Europe to continue their success in a class that they have been sailing for less than a year. Fellow Star sailors Ian Barker and Ed Peel have taken a little time out of the programme, but have just recently put together a new boat and have been putting some time on the water in England, so will be looking to make a mark in this class.

The Tornado class have just returned from their European championship in Vilamoura, Portugal, where the Team GBR sailors finished with two boats in the top ten (Hugh Styles/Adam May-eighth, Rob Wilson/Will Howden-tenth) and four boats inside the top 20. They will be looking to take what they have learnt from the Europeans to step up their game here at Spa.

With just over 100 sailors in the Finn Class, including last years winner and Atlanta Olympic Gold Medallist Mateusz Kusznierewicz, racing will be tough. Olympic Gold medallist Ben Ainslie and fellow team GBR Finn sailor Andrew Simpson will be looking to better their fifth and sixth places from Hyeres.

Over 100 boats will sail in the Europe class, team GBR sailor Debbie Winstanley finished a very credible ninth place in Hyeres and will be hoping for a repeat performance, team mate Kirsty Bonar, who has just returned from success at a three day Europe ‘warm-up’ regatta, where she won the regatta will be looking to better her 25th place form Hyeres.

In the 470 Men’s class, entry numbers are expecting to reach 90 sailors, last years winners Johan Molund/Martin Andersson of Sweden are present, and RYA team GBR sailors Nick Rogers and Joe Glanfield and Graham Vials and Dan Newman will be looking to better their 18th and 19th places from Hyeres.

Team mates Helena Lucas and Jenny Heeley finished Hyeres on a high note, scoring the best British result in this class for some time, a fifth place, so will be looking to repeat that performance.