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12 Canadian sailors to face the best in the world at 2023 ILCA 6 & 7 Senior European Championships

by Sail Canada 9 Mar 15:35 PST 12-17 March 2023
Sarah Douglas at Hempel World Cup Series Allianz Regatta © Sailing Energy / Hempel World Cup Series Allianz Regatta

Close to 500 days prior to the start of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, 12 Canadian sailors in ILCA 6 and 7, including Tokyo 2020 Olympian Sarah Douglas, will face the best in the world at the 2023 ILCA 6 & 7 Senior European Championships to be held in Andora, Italy, starting Sunday, March 12, to Friday, March 17.

A total of nearly 400 athletes from around the world will take part in the event.

In ILCA 6, Sarah Douglas from Toronto, who was sixth at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, will represent Canada along with Maura Dewey from Victoria, Clara Gravely from Toronto and Coralie Vittecoq from Montreal.

They will compete against Anne-Marie Rindom from Denmark, Emma Plasschaert from Belgium, Josefin Olsson from Sweden and Marit Bouwmeester from the Netherlands, who have all won a medal either at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games or at the latest World Championships. Rindom won the gold medal at both events.

"The 2023 season is starting in Andora, Italy, with the European Championships," pointed out Sarah Douglas. "It will be a new venue for me and several sailors, so there will be a lot to learn about the wind patterns and the conditions there."

"It's going to be a long and important year for me, with many qualification events heading towards the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. The European Championships are going to be a good way to check in on where I'm at, as well as what I need to continue to work on towards this year's peak events."

Eight Canadians in ILCA 7

In ILCA 7, eight Canadians will be in action, including Ryan Anderson from Halifax, Liam Bruce and James Juhasz from Oakville, ON, Ben Flower from Tobermory, ON, Luke Ruitenberg from St. Margaret's Bay, N.S., Norman Struthers from Toronto, Forrest Wachholz from Innisfil, ON, and Fillah Karim from Vancouver.

Karim was the top Canadian at the 2022 ILCA 7 World Championships with a 43rd-place result. Last November, he was also the top sailor from Canada at the European Championships with a 34th-place finish, which was the best Canadian performance at that competition since at least 2016.

Competition will be fierce as the six medalists from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and the latest World Championships will attend: Jean-Baptiste Bernaz from France, Pavlos Kontides from Cyprus, Filip Jurišic and Tonci Stipanovic from Croatia, Matthew Wearn from Australia, as well as Hermann Tomasgaard from Norway.

"We are now at the point in the quadrennial where everything starts to ramp up, so I'm pretty excited for the 2023 racing season to kick off with the Europeans coming up in Italy," said Fillah Karim. "This event in itself doesn't carry much significance for us as Canadians, but anytime you have the opportunity to race in a 200-boat fleet with pretty much full attendance across the professional fleet, you are guaranteed solid racing."

"For me, this serves as a warm up event as I build towards my first peak competition of the year at the Princess Sofía Regatta in April, which will serve as Canadian trials for both the Olympic Test Event and the Pan American Games - so there's lots of excitement ahead!"

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