NED 470, Sven and Kalle Coster. - Semaine Olympique Francaise, Hyeres
There are new leaders in the Laser, Men's 470 and Men's RS:X rankings whilst Australia and Spain tie for the top nation spot in the latest release of the ISAF World Sailing Rankings on 15 October.
With the drama of the Beijing Games behind them, it has been a period of consolidation for the world's top Olympic sailors as they reflect on the past four-year cycle and begin to lay down plans for the next. Consequently it has been a relatively low-key couple of months on the ISAF Graded circuit, with just one ISAF Grade 1 event, the Star North American Championship, taking place in the latest Ranking period.
Coming up, Sail Melbourne, brought forward to 16-21 December this year, is the first of seven events of the newly launched ISAF Sailing World Cup. Following on from Melbourne, the series moves to Miami, then Palma, Hyeres, Medemblik, Kiel and finally Weymouth. Competitors combine points scored at each of the events of the World Cup series to decide their overall standings meaning Melbourne offers a perfect opportunity to establish an early lead and seize the initiative in the battle of the World Cup trophy.
For the Australian Sailing Team, Sail Melbourne also offers the chance to showcase the talent that has kept them at the forefront of the national standings in the Rankings for the past year. With two crews occupying #1 spots and two at #2, the Aussies tie with Spain as top nation in this Ranking release.
The British team are still waiting for their Olympic success to be reflected in the Rankings as some of their star performers continue to lag behind because of their limited appearances during the build up to the Games. At the recent Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta the focus was firmly on the future as the up-and-coming generation of British sailors pitted themselves against some young stars from around the world.
The regatta, held at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, has grown rapidly since its launch in 2006 and it's a trend that is set to continue with its status as 2012 Olympic venue and the inclusion of the 2009 event in ISAF Sailing World Cup.
Notable winners in Weymouth this year were Beijing bronze medallists Lijia XU (CHN) and Shahar ZUBARI (ISR) in the Laser Radial and Men's RS:X respectively, and two-time Men's 470 World Champions Nic ASHER and Elliot WILLIS (GBR).
The British strength in depth in the Laser and Finn fleets - in which they have won five gold medals over the past three Olympic Games - was also in evidence. Nick THOMPSON (GBR) and Giles SCOTT (GBR), both former winners of the Boy's One Person Dinghy event at the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship, took the Laser and Finn titles in Weymouth respectively.
Along with Australia and Spain, the French sailing team also have plenty to celebrate in this Ranking release. Windsurfer and Olympic silver medallist Julien BONTEMPS (FRA) hits the top spot in the Men's RS:X Rankings. Bontemps stepped up the pace during the European season and strung together a series of podium finishes which culminated in his silver medal-winning performance at the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition in Qingdao.
Dutch brothers Sven COSTER and Kalle COSTER (NED) hit the top spot in the Men's 470 Rankings for the first time in their career. After two years spent as ever present in the world top 10, the Coster brothers finally knock Olympic gold medallists Nathan WILMOT and Malcolm PAGE (AUS) off the top of the World Rankings, largely thanks to their consistency over the course of this year's European season.
Qingdao Olympic Regatta 2008. RS:X Men's medal race. Julien Bontemps (FRA) had the gold medal in his pocket until he fell in at the first mark.
Beijing gold medallist Paul GOODISON (GBR) also slips from the top spot in the Laser Rankings as Tom SLINGSBY (AUS) regains the world #1 position. Despite his disastrous Olympic showing, SLINGSBY moves above GOODISON thanks largely to the string of regatta wins the Australian put together in 2007 and 2008.
World Ranking Leaders - 15 October 2008
Heavyweight Dinghy - Finn - Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN (DEN)
Women's One Person Dinghy - Laser Radial - Anna TUNNICLIFFE (USA)
Men's One Person Dinghy - Laser - Tom SLINGSBY (AUS)
Men's Two Person Dinghy - 470 - Sven COSTER and Kalle COSTER (NED)
Women's Two Person Dinghy - 470 - Guilia CONTI and Giovanna MICOL (ITA)
Skiff - 49er - Iker MARTINEZ and Xabier FERNANDEZ (ESP)
Men's Keelboat - Star - Mateusz KUSZNIEREWICZ and Dominik ZYCKI (POL)
Women's Keelboat - Yngling - Sarah AYTON, Sarah WEBB and Pippa WILSON (GBR)
Multihull - Tornado - Darren BUNDOCK and Glenn ASHBY (AUS)
Men's Windsurfer - RS:X - Julien BONTEMPS (FRA)
Women's Windsurfer - RS:X - Marina ALABAU (ESP)
The next release of the ISAF World Sailing Rankings will next be on 10 December 2008.
Jonas Hoegh-Christensen (DEN-2_ gybes in the Finn Gold Cup