Jonnys Men’s 470 Class Olympic medal predictions – 27 entries
Numero Uno – Matt Belcher and Malcolm Page AUS – c Perth 2011
The dominant force in the 470 Men’s division is the Australian’s Matt Belcher and Malcolm Page. The Australians have a well established tradition in the class with Page winning Gold in Beijing in 2008 and an unprecedented six world championships, the last three consecutively with Matt Belcher on the helm. They have won almost every grade 1 Olympic class regatta throughout the last 3 years rather bizarrely with the exception of Sail for Gold and the Olympic test event at the 2012 Games venue of Weymouth & Portland. They were beaten by their French rivals Pierre Leboucher and Vincent Garos.until this year at SFG in June where they made amends.
Pierre has been a campaigner in the 470 for 10 years and fought a close battle with compatriot Nicholas Charbonnier for selection. Pierre and Vincent have had a solid build up to the Olympic regatta with a string of podiums including a silver at the 2012 Worlds in Barcelona. They finished down the pan at SFG in June this year but are the only crew to beat the Aussies at Weymouth & Portland.
The other major competition will consist of the young guns from Britain, Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell. They also had to fight for selection against seasoned 470 campaigners and title winners Nick Rogers and Nick Asher. Luke and Stu missed out on the Olympic test event but went on win the medal race of the Perth 2011 Worlds and snatch the silver medal. Their 2012 season has been slow to gain momentum but they have performed well in the breeze delivering a stellar silver in Weymouth & Portland at SFG in June. They are very fit and strong and gaining in experience at every opportunity.
The consistent Croations, Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic are sure to be major competitors for a medal. They are the bronze specialists, coming 3rd at the 2010,2011 and 2012 World Championships. Yet to achieve success at an Olympic Games regatta they have a good chance this time round.
Other strong contenders include the Israelis Gideon Kliger and Eran Sela. This will be Gideon’s 3rd Olympics having finished 14th and 15th in Athens and Beijing respectively with a different crew, but their run in form is good, a 3rd at the Olympic test event, 2nd in Palma and 4th in Hyeres and just off the podium at the Barcelona Worlds this year.
Two young and upcoming teams are the Finnish brothers, Jonas and Niklas Lindgren and kiwis, Paul Snow Hansen and Jason Saunders, both enjoy the Weymouth conditions and should challenge in the medal race. Others with a chance of a medal race spot are the Argentinians, Lucas Calabrese and Juan de la Fuente and Greeks Panagotis Kampourridis and Efstathios Papadopolous.
Gold: Matthew Belcher & Malcolm Page AUS
Silver: Pierre Leboucher & Vincent Garos FRA
Bronze: Luke Patience & Stuart Bithell GBR
Australia’s Matthew Belcher and Malcolm Page will be the pair to beat in the Men’s 470 at the London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition having won three World Championship titles in a row.
The pair have blown the competition away in recent times and on 2 August they will be part of the 27-boat fleet that begin their Olympic Sailing Competition on the Nothe Course.
Not only do they have their 470 titles to their name they have an unbeaten run that stretches from December 2011 where they picked up their second consecutive world title together proving they are a force to be reckoned with.
Page comes into London 2012 as the defending Men’s 470 Olympic Champion having won gold with Nathan Wilmot in Beijing 2008, a feat he is keen to repeat, “There’s no better feeling than flying the flag as high as possible and the dream is to have the middle flag on the three posts at London 2012.”
On his memories of the podium at Beijing 2008 Page said, “The key moment that got the tingle down my spine was when we were standing on that podium listening to my national anthem and watching my country flag go up. I get goosepimples now even when I think about it.”
Having won 420 Worlds title in 2000, Belcher was given the honour of carrying the Australian flag at the Sydney 2000. In that moment he caught the Olympic bug and having trained with Wilmot and Page in their build up for Beijing 2008 he missed out on selection. But going into London 2012 he is looking forward to representing his country on the global stage, “You can’t really take it for granted, it’ such a privilege to represent your country,” said Belcher. “To have this opportunity this time around we’re just going to make the most of it.”
Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic (CRO) will be one of the crews chasing the Australians for the coveted gold medal. The pair won the 470 European Championship in Largs, Scotland ahead of London 2012 and have finished on the podium at four consecutive 470 Worlds, including a gold medal in 2009. On their relationship together Marenic said, “We’ve sailed together for ten years now so we know each other very well and we also communicate really well which is the key and an important thing. We know each other since Optimists so we’re also really good friends. Until recently we even lived together.”
France’s Pierre Leboucher and Vincent Garos know what it takes to beat Belcher and Page on Weymouth waters having done so twice in 2011. The French duo finished second at the 2012 470 Worlds and will aim to push to Australians all the way.
Sydney 2000 bronze medallist Juan de la Fuente (ARG) will be one of the most experienced sailors in the fleet with London 2012 his fourth Olympic Games. He gives up ten years on his helm Lucas Calabrese but is excited by his young helm, “This is a new challenge with Lucas,” said de la Fuente.“He is really talented and young. He is new blood and wants to improve all the time and he trains really hard.”
Gideon Kliger and Eran Sela (ISR) won bronze at the Weymouth and Portland International Regatta, the Olympic Test Event, last year and have what it takes to mix it up at the top. The pair are focused and have worked well together in the build-up to London 2012.Kliger said, “Naturally our target is the gold medal. We will work hard to achieve that. We are not the only ones I guess, but this is our goal. We don’t want the bronze like the test event!”
Paul Snow Hansen and Jason Saunders are part of a balanced New Zealand sailing team with a blend of experience and newcomers amongst the ranks. The pair, both 21, have World Cup medals with a best performance of eighth at four 470 Worlds competed in together. Despite their youth Snow-Hansen is hoping for a good performance, “Hopefully we’ll be in the running for the medals but we’ll sail our best and see. We’ve got a good range of sailors with a few who have done a lot of Olympics and we’ve got a lot of young guys. The experienced guys have a lot to teach us.”
Other frontrunners will include Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell (GBR) who have the home water knowledge, Sven and Kalle Coster (NED), Ferdinand Gerz and Patrick Follman (GER) and Ryunosuke Harada and Yugo Yoshida (JPN). But the fleet is strong and upsets can happen.
RSX Women’s Windsurfer Class Olympic medal predictions by Jonny – 28 boards
Zofia Klepacka of Poland on hot form coming into the Games – c Perth 2011
The Olympic Gold is shaping up to be a fierce battle between two very fit strong breeze sailors. Lee Korzits of Israel came back from a bad injury in 2009 to regain form with back to back World titles in 2011 and 2012. She also sailed to bronze at SFG 2012 in June this year.
Zofia Klepacka of Poland enjoys a good breeze and holds back to back silvers in Perth 2011 and Cadiz 2012. She mashed the competition at the recent SFG in Weymouth & Portland and is my hot shot for Gold.
Lee Korzits ISR provides the strongest opposition – c Perth 2011
The main opposition to these two board sailors could come from Marina Alabau of Spain who had to fight a close battle for selection against compatriot Blanca Manchon. Alabau would probably prefer slightly lighter conditions but she has very consistent form in the European Olympic regatta circuit.
Local British Bryony Shaw has local knowledge, is very fit and a good bet for a chance of medal and it would be foolish to rule out the experience of Alessandra Sensini of Italy who at the tender age of 42 years is one of the most experienced athletes competing in the 2012 Games.
Spains big hope for a medal Marina Alabau – c Perth 2011
An outside chance of a medal could come from Ukranian Olga Maslivets who has featured just outside the top brass on a number of occasions, and Charline Picon of France who would also arguably like slightly lighter winds to excel.
Gold: Zofia Klepacka (POL)
Silver: Lee Korzits (ISR)
Bronze: Marina Alabau (ESP)
RSX Mens Windsurfer Class Olympic Medal Predictions by Jonny – 38 boards
The Flying Dutchman – c Thom Touw
Dorian van Rijsselberge the ‘flying dutchman’ is a relatively young gun in the RSX class but he is very tall and extremely fast in strong conditions. Dorian showed his class at the Perth 2011 Worlds and narrowly beat Nick Dempsey (GBR) at the Olympic test event in Weymouth & Portland. Expect some showboating if he wins!
In his way is the home favourite, Nick Dempsey. 2012 will be Nick’s fourth Olympic’s but he was bitterly disappointed to miss out on a medal in the relatively light airs in Beijing in 2008. He was also fourth at the 2012 Worlds in Cadiz but is very good at recovering from set-backs and knows the waters off Weymouth like the back of his hand.
The other big factor is likely to be Julien Bontemps of France. The Beijing silver medallist has had a very successful season winning the 2012 Worlds in Cadiz and finishing in third at SFG in June. Julien also enjoys a good breeze.
The hunting pack include more sailors from Poland and Israel. Poland is a dominant force in windsurfing and will be represented by Przemek Miarczynski who’s selection went down to the wire in a trial against Piotr Myszka. He finished 5th in Athens 2004 and a podium placing at the Olympic test regatta.
The big rivalry – c Thom Touw
Israel’s talent comes in the form of Shahar Zubari who has also had to battle for selection against fellow windsurfer Nimrod Mashich.
It would be wise to include the kiwi JP Tobin who has been a bit off the pace of late but never out of the top batch or Bryan Kokolamis of Greece who finished 4th at SFG in June this year.
Gold: Dorian van Rijsselberge (NED)
Silver: Nick Dempsey (GBR)
Bronze: Julien Bontemps (FRA)
Laser Radial Olympic medal predictions by Jonny – 39 boats
Until 2012 the Netherlands Marit Bouwmeester had started to maintain a bit of a stranglehold over her rivals with impressive wins at the 2011 Worlds in windy Perth and a string of SWC golds medals.
Her main rival Evi van Acker (BEL) has become a resident bridesmaid with a string of seconds at SFG 2011, the Olympic test event and 2011 World Championships. She is likely to be a medal contender.
The current world champion is Gintare Scheidt of Lithuania although this was sailed on a lake in Germany in fickle winds and not a good indication on sailing conditions in Weymouth & Portland. However Gintare also holds the silver medal from Beijing 2008 and can be counted as a serious contender.
Sari Multata of Finland won back to back world championships in 2009 and 2010 before a dip in form before coming back strongly in 2012 to grab silver at the 2012 Worlds in May.
Lijia Xu had also been off the scene since claiming bronze in Beijing 2008. She came back to regular competition only late last year and since has joined the podium at a number of regattas including the 2012 Worlds and just squeezed out to 4th at SFG in June this year.
The two dark horses, especially if the breeze is up will be the rapidly advancing Alison Young of Great Britain and Annalise Murphy of Ireland. Both are tall, physical and very strong in the big stuff. Young won gold at SFG, the last regatta at the Olympic venue only weeks ago in fine form.
Another experience Radial sailor remaining in the mix is Paige Railey (USA), sister to Zach in the Finn class, she is never outside the lead bunch scoring bronze at the Olympic test event and 2011 Perth Worlds.
Gold: Marit Bouwmeester (NED)
Silver: Evi van Acker (BEL)
Bronze: Lijia Xu (CHN)
Laser Class Olympic predictions by Jonny- 48 boats
Tom Slingsby gold in his sights – c Ian Roman
Current Olympic champion Paul Goodison (GBR) went on to dominate the class in 2009 winning the Worlds and Europeans before taking a break to do some keelboat racing. In the meantime Australia’s Tom Slingsby who had a disastrous 2008 Olympics, has come back in relentless form winning just about every regatta he sails.
Slingsby has won the last 3 world championships on the trop amassing 5 in total in his career. He has also beaten Goodison at every regatta the two have competed in over the last 2 years. Previously a heavy weather fanatic, Tom has adapted to all conditions comfortably winning all recent regattas held at the 2012 Olympic venue.
Tom also had to contend with another determined British sailor in Nick Thompson who had won consecutive silver medals at the 2010 & 2011 Worlds and a bundle of Olympic class SWC medals. The best chance for Goody would be if the winds were light and flukey or Slingsby were to experience breakages.
Whilst these two are expected to battle for Gold there are some other sailors that could upset the apple cart. Andrew Murdoch of New Zealand fought a hard battle with fellow kiwi, Andrew Maloney for selection and stands a good chance in fresh conditions.
Germany’s Simon Grotelueschen also had to fend off Philip Buhl to gain selection after the pair have challenged for podiums on a regular basis for the last two seasons. The form guide has been a bit erratic from some of the other regular performers but if experience is a key to success, Andreas Geritzer (AUT), Tonci Stopanovic (CRO) or Pavlos Kontides of Cyprus could all mount a challenge.
An outsider to look out for will be Juan Maegli of Guatamala who has turned heads with very strong results this season and would surely be a popular medallist.
Outside chance Andrew Murdoch of New Zealand – c Richard Langdon
Gold: Tom Slingsby (AUS)
Silver: Paul Goodison (GBR)
Bronze: Andrew Murdoch (NZL)
49er Class Olympic predictions by Jonny
Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen hot favourites for gold – c nikola sisko
Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen got together after the 2008 Beijing Olympics where Nathan finished in 5th place overall in a drama filled medal race. Nathan has won the 49er Worlds five times and finished 2nd to Spains Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez in 2010. The red hot favourites for gold have won almost all major Olympic class regattas they have competed in including the Olympic test event and Sail for Gold this June and are well aquainted with the Weymouth & Portland conditions. Nathan has never won an Olympic medal but has picked up a few other class world titles during the last 2-3 seasons.
The Aussies main rivals on paper should be the Spaniards, Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez who won Gold in Athens 2004 and Silver in Beijing 2008. They also won beat the Aussies in the 2010 Worlds and came a close second in the Olympic test event. However both Iker and Xabi have been spending the last 7 months racing offshore in the Volvo Ocean Race which is not due to finish until July. All the same if would be foolish to count the talented Spanish out of a medal of any colour.
Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez back in the boat for just over 2 weeks – c Maria Muina
Another hot young team are the New Zealanders, Peter Burling and Blair Tuke. Third at the Olympic test event, 2nd at the Perth 2011 Worlds and again at the 2012 Worlds in Zadar. they enjoy the heavy conditions. They have proved very consistent and a good call for a medal.
The British had an abundance of riches in the class and regularly counted 3-4 boats in any major grade 1 regatta throughout the last 3 years but had to choose between several talented crews. In the end the British selectors went with the experienced crew of Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes who went into the 2008 Games with a hatful of titles but disappointingly finished 9th after some unlucky technical breakages. Stevie and Ben finished 4th at the Olympic test event but had to pull out of the Perth 2011 worlds due to injury to Ben. After some time out to recover they have been back in the mix at all their recent regattas finishing just outside the top 3 at the recent SFG. Stevie and Ben enjoy fresh conditions and should medal at their home venue.
Local favourites Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes of GBR – c Richard Landon
Other top teams include the French, Stephane Christidis and Manu Dyen who regularly finish in the top 3 at grade 1 regattas and the Danes, who like the British, had a very hard selection battle. 2008 Beijing Gold medal winner Jonas Warner narrowly missed out to Allan Norregaard and Peter Lang despite a dominant display at the beginning of the 2012 season in Palma. Allan and Peter are regulars in the medal races of major regattas and expect to see them in the medal race in Weymouth & Portland.
Teams that should make the medal race include the Finns, Lauri Lehtinen and Kalle Bast, the Austrians, Nico Delle Karth and Nikolaus Resch, and the Americans, Erik Storck and Trevor Moore.
Gold: Nathan Outteridge & Iain Jensen AUS
Silver: Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez ESP
Bronze: Stevie Morrison & Ben Rhodes GBR
Race reports by Mark Angell, all photos supplied by Christophe Favreau
The SAP 5O5 World Championship kicked off in sunny conditions on Saturday afternoon in La Rochelle, France. With a light south westerly breeze forecast the race officials took the decision to keep the 187 boat fleet ashore, opting for a four hour postponement to allow sufficient conditions for the fleet to launch. As the fleet took to the water the breeze steadily increased to 15 knots allowing the race committee to get the first race underway.
President of the race committee Piere Lemaire commented “We have already had a fantastic SAP 505 Pre-World Championship with 6 races sailed giving visiting crews the chance to practice in the La Rochelle waters. This year’s SAP 505 World Championship got off to a great start today, we were able to run two races in some great conditions in spite of the extremely large number of teams on the water (188 boats – 396 Sailors) we witnessed quite a spectacle this afternoon most notably when the fleet returned from the windward mark with spinnakers hoisted!”
La Rochelle continues to deliver light conditions on day 2
On day two of the SAP 5O5 World Championship the fleet saw yet another postponement to the racing schedule due to an extremely light South Westerly breeze. Race director Pierre Lemaire had no choice but to postpone the start and hold the 188 boat fleet on the shore to await a steady breeze. The breeze duly filled in at 4pm CET from the North West and the race committee attempted to start the first race. Two further re-starts ensued due to radical 20° wind shifts which occured half way through the rabbit starting procedure.
With the size of the fleet numbering 188 the 505 fleet employ a gate or rabbit start to give the entire fleet an equal chance during the starting phase. This start is a spectacular sight to see – 188 boats competitively starting at the same time and uses a moving rabbit boat to dictate the line instead of a stationary committee boat.
On day two of the event the current championship leaders Christian Kellner and Martin Schoeler further cemented their position at the top of the overall leaderboard by posting a second place finish in the only race of the day. The German team has shown great form having also competed in the SAP 505 Pre Worlds Regatta in La Rochelle where they finished third.
Snakes and ladders conditions cause reshuffle on third day
On day three of the SAP 505 World Championship variable and shifty conditions have affected the top positions. Today’s wind of 8 knots came from the easterly direction however the land effect gave the opportunity for the light air specialists to monopolize.
The American team of Conrads and Haines took the early lead in the first race of the day, currently ranked 14th placed boat in the regatta. The leaders were making huge gains opting to beat towards the beach, team Conrads/Haines’ win boosts them an incredible 9 positions up the leaderboard to 5th overall.
To follow all the live regatta action and for more information on the 2012 SAP 5O5 World Championship visit the official website at www.sap505worlds.com/2012
The 41-boat Laser Radial fleet will be one of the most hotly contended sailing events at London 2012 with a number of sailors with realistic medal hopes.
Throughout 2011 Marit Bouwmeester (NED) and Evi Van Acker (BEL) looked like they would be runaway leaders at the London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition. However 2012 has seen the tide turn as those who trailed the Dutch and Belgian sailors are hitting the right form at the right time.
Beijing 2008 bronze medallist Lijia Xu is one of those sailors. Despite two poor performances at the 2010 Laser Radial Worlds, finishing 81st, and the 2011 ISAF Worlds which saw her end in 25th, she came back with two World Cup regatta victories as well as a second at the 2012 Laser Radial Worlds. Although Xu picked up an injury at the beginning of the year she is well on track for London 2012, “I was due to sail in Palma but I had an incident and had to have an operation so I was off sailing for two months,” said Xu. “I’ve performed very well and I have been working hard in preparation for the Olympic Games.”
Lithuania’s Gintare Scheidt won her nations first and only sailing medal at Beijing 2008 in the Laser Radial. The Lithuanian will want to go one better than her Beijing 2008 silver medal and after winning gold in shifty conditions at the 2012 Laser Radial Worlds in Boltenhagen, Germany her confidence will be high.
Great Britain’s Alison Young was one of the last British sailors to be selected for London 2012 and has slowly worked her way to World #2. A determined performance on home waters could see how come out with a podium finish.
Whilst those around them have flourished Bouwmeester and Van Acker will still be cutting it at the top.
Bouwmeester stormed to a crushing victory at the 2011 Weymouth and Portland International Regatta and followed this up with victory at the 2011 ISAF Worlds. More podium finishes followed but a fifth place at the 2012 Laser Worlds showed that she can be beaten at the big events. She has been in the World #10 since August 2009 and won’t go down quietly come race time.
Van Acker has more often than not had to play second fiddle behind Bouwmeester. The Belgian finished on the podium 10 times in 2011 and five times she was beaten by Bouwmeester. Van Acker finished second at the 2011 ISAF Worlds and missed out entirely on the 2012 Radial Worlds. She has what it takes to go the distance and with competition tight amongst the fleet the Belgian will have to be deliver consistent results.
Sari Multala (FIN) will be sailing at her third Olympic Games having missed out on Beijing 2008. The Fin came fifth at Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 in the Europe. She won the Radial Worlds in 2009 and more recently came third at the 2012 edition.
Big wind specialist Annalise Murphy (IRL) could be in the running for a medal if the wind is right and is following in the footsteps of her mother Catherine MacAleavy who competed at Seoul 1988. “I just want to sail to the best of my ability,” said Murphy. “I would like to be in the top ten, that is my goal at the moment and try to do well. I’m only 22 and I just want to perform at my best and see where I’m at.”
The fleet is also packed full of further talent aiming for medals including Krystal Weir (AUS), Tatiana Drozdovskaya (BLR), Tina Mihelic (CRO), Veronika Fenclova (CZE) and America’s Paige Railey.
The Laser Radial fleet set sail on 30 July at after the Laser fleet on Weymouth Bay South. The fleet enjoy a lay day on 2 August before racing resumes on 3 August. The Radials will play to the Nothe Spectator area crowd on 6 August where the gold medallists will be decided after the Medal Race.
It will be a do or die for twelve women’s match racing teams from 29 July to 11 August as the cutthroat nature of match racing is displayed at the London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition.
Silja Lehtinen (FIN) comes into London 2012 fresh from a victory at the 2012 ISAF Women’s Match Racing Worlds in Gothenburg, Sweden but the Finnish match racer had somewhat of a mixed 12 months prior.
Lehtinen missed out on Olympic qualification at the 2011 ISAF Worlds in Perth, Australia despite a fantastic opening day. She bounced back to qualify her nation at the final qualification regatta in Florida, USA in February but had mixed results throughout the ISAF Sailing World Cup. But an emphatic 3-0 victory over Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) in the Gothenburg final shows she can hit it when it really matters.
World #1 in the women’s match racing rankings Tunnicliffe has held top spot since September 2011 and has proved she is a force to be reckoned with. Having won gold in the Laser Radial at Beijing 2008 Tunnicliffe has made a seamless transition over to women’s match racing and has won eight events since June 2011, including the 2011 Women’s Match Racing Worlds. All of the teams will have to step their game up if Tunnicliffe is to be toppled.
Claire Leroy (FRA) made her first appearance on the match racing scene in April 2002 and has made ten appearances at the Women’s Match Racing Worlds. Leroy won the event in 2007 and 2008 and has racked up plenty of match racing miles. Her experience will prove vital as tensions and pressure mount on the course.
One of the most exciting prospects comes from Australia in the form of Olivia Price. The Australian will turn 20 midway through the Olympic Sailing Competition and her progression up the women’s match racing rankings has been rapid. With regatta victories on Olympic waters and a third place as crew with Nicky Souter at the Women’s Worlds in 2010 she’s a hot contender for a podium finish.
Further challenges for podium finishes will come from Russia’s Ekaterina Skudina and World #2 Lucy Macgregor (GBR) who despite a lack of form both have what it takes to mix it with the best.
Lotte Pedersen (DEN), Renee Groeneveld (NED), Stephanie Hazard (NZL), Rita Goncalves (POR), Tamara Echegoyen (ESP) and Anna Kjellberg (SWE) make up the rest of the competitors but have yet to demonstrate the consistent performances shown by the favourites.
Women’s Match Racing commences on 29 July and rounds off the Olympic Sailing Competition on 11 August with the Petit Final and Final in front of the Nothe spectator area.