At the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships, the world’s best sailors are vying to become world champions and to earn the right to compete at the London 2012 Olympic Games. With racing coming up for the Women’s RS:X, Men’s 470, Laser Radial and Finn fleets, it should be close.
Marit Bouwmeester from the Netherlands and Belgian Evi Van Acker are expected to continue their tussle for the world title at Perth 2011 after dominating the Laser Radial racing in recent months. Van Acker comes into this event ranked second after Bouwmeester took top spot in the rankings with her gold performance at the London 2012 test event in Weymouth and Portland in July.
Others to watch are Finland’s Sari Multala, the 2009 and 2010 Laser Radial world champion, and Lijia Xu (CHN), who came fourth at the London 2012 test event in Weymouth and third at the 2008 Olympic sailing competition in Beijing.
With more than 100 entries in the Laser Radial however, the opening stages will be crucial in securing a berth for the medal race.
Other sailors expected to stand out in this class include world number four Tina Mihelic (CRO), number five Paige Railey (USA), number six ranked Krystal Weir (AUS).
Laser Radial racing is scheduled for 1200 on the Parmelia course, about 3.5km from Fremantle’s Fishing Boat Harbour entrance.
Reigning world champions Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page are the ones to beat in the Men’s 470 class, with the Australian duo at the top of the world rankings.
Stuart McNay and Graham Biehl (USA) come to Perth 2011 on a high after beating Belcher and Page at Sail Melbourne, an ISAF World Cup event, in November.
The Men’s 470 fleet is scheduled to start race one at 1230 on the Success course, set to the south west and about 4.5km from Fremantle’s Fishing Boat Harbour entrance.
Great Britain is expected to dominate in the Finn class, with Ed Wright and Giles Scott out to prove their credentials to British Olympic Sailing team selectors after Ben Ainslie was chosen to represent the country in the Finn class at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Wright is the defending Finn world champion and world number one, while Scott is the 2011 European champion and world number two.
Currently 31 in the world rankings, Ainslie secured his London 2012 berth with his victory at the Olympic test event in Weymouth and Portland in July. He is also the 2008 Beijing Olympic champion.
France’s Thomas Le Breton and Jonathan Lobert, who claimed silver in Weymouth, will also be ones to watch.
The Finn fleet is scheduled to start racing at 1300 on the Leighton course, located north of Fremantle Harbour close to Leighton beach.
Spain’s Blanca Manchon is well positioned to defend her RS:X world champion title, coming in to Perth 2011 at the top of the world rankings. But she must watch out for teammate Marina Alabau, who has had a string of recent wins, including a second at Weymouth and is also desperate for Spain’s RS:X Olympic berth.
Beijing Olympic bronze medallist Bryony Shaw (GBR) is also a strong contender for a medal.
Three time Olympian Jessica Crisp will lead Australia’s charge in the RS:X class on the back of her recent victories at the last two ISAF Sailing World Cup rounds, while Alessandra Sensini will be looking to qualify her class after being selected to represent Italy in London 2012 in what will be her sixth Olympic appearance.
The women’s RS:X event is scheduled to start at 12:30 just off the beach on the Centre course at Bathers Bay.
Perth ISAF World Sailing Championship website