Olympic sailors head to Qingdao for ISAF Sailing World Cup

As the dust settles on the ISAF Sailing World Championships many of the racers are heading east to compete at the second edition of ISAF Sailing World Cup Qingdao.

Racing across the Men's and Women's 470, Laser, Laser Radial and Men's and Women's RS:X will take place across three race courses at the venue of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition. Strong Chinese contingents as well as international excellence will make up the six fleets ensuring an exciting week of racing in China.

Competitors across the six events will be vying for their share of the 180,000USD prize money. 18,000 USD will be awarded to the gold medallist with 8,000 USD and 4,000 USD going to second and third place.

The Men's 470 fleet will see 22-boats line up on the start line in Qingdao with a blend of experience and youth amongst the entrants.

2013 and 2014 Junior 470 World Champions Jordi Xammar and Joan Herp (ESP) made major inroads at the Santander 2014 ISAF Worlds, finishing seventh overall. The pair took the Medal Race bullet in Santander and having proven they can beat some of the finest Men's 470 sailors Xammar is coy on his team's chances in Qingdao, “It would be great [to win] but I think it is too early to take a win in a senior event and we have still many things to learn but for sure we are going to fight as much as we can.

“Our aim for the World Cup in Qingdao is to keep learning from the best sailors and give our best in every race, we don't want to fight for one place, just try to be as higher as possible.

“We are expecting a really high level competition and we know that the starts are going to be very important because with a bad start is going to be very difficult to recover.”

The competition is set to be high in the Men's 470 with World #3 Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis (GRE), World #6 Sofian Bouvet and Jeremie Mion (FRA) and two time Olympian Onan Barreiros with crew Juan Curbelo Cabrera (ESP) joining Xammar and Herp in the pack.

The Women's 470 fleet will see a tight knit 10 boat fleet take to the water. The experienced Ai Yoshida and Miho Yoshioka (JPN) will go into the event as favourites but with World #10 Shasha Chen and Haiyan Gao (CHN) and a young, fresh Chinese team joining them they will have their work cut out.

A fleet of 37 will make up the Laser fleet and the level will be high. World #1 Tom Burton (AUS), World #3 Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) and World #4 Pavlos Kontides (CYP) will be within the fleet.

Stipanovic and Kontides occupied the top two spots at the 2013 edition of ISAF Sailing World Cup Qingdao and will no doubt be two of the front runners again. On the week ahead Kontides said, “The Laser class always has tough competition. My goal is to simply sail with fewer mistakes as possible and by doing that I know I can battle for those places on the podium. Last year I was second so improvement will be achieved only by winning gold.”

A mixed bag of conditions tested the fleet at the 2013 edition and more of the same is expected in 2014 as Kontides added, “Last year was a good warm up event for the worlds and a verification that sailing is an all-round sport as we had all kinds of conditions.

“Qingdao is a venue with different sailing conditions from what we are used to sailing in and it is always challenging to sail there. Sport is all about challenge so I am excited to return there to compete.”

With the likes of Kontides, Stipanovic and Burton within the pack alongside further talent such as Bruno Fontes (BRA), Thomas Saunders (NZL), Karl-Martin Rammo (EST), Colin Cheng and Wannes Van Laer (BEL), the going will be tough for all those involved with 200 ISAF World Ranking points on offer to the winner.

Tatiana Drozdovskaya (BLR) was forced down to the back of the pack in the Laser Radial Medal Race at the 2013 version of ISAF Sailing World Cup Qingdao and missed out on gold as Dongshuang Zhang (CHN) claimed the honours. The Belorussian makes a return to avenge her defeat.

Joining Drozdovskaya in the fleet will be Italy's Laura Cosentino who is making her second visit to China as she explained, “I'm really looking forward to racing in Qingdao. I was in Rizhao last year for the Radial World Championship where we had some good racing, I hope it will be the same also in Qingdao.

“I think it will be a weird competition, even if it's a World Cup regatta we are only few competitors. In the Laser Radial we are used to sailing in big fleets, so it will be a totally different kind of racing, more similar to a Medal Race.”

Further competition for the top places will come from Singapore's Elizabeth Yin, New Zealand's Sara Winther and Russia's Elena Vorobeva.

2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami gold medallist Byron Kokkalanis (GRE) will lead the line in the 37 strong Men's RS:X fleet in Qingdao. After starting 2014 off with a golden bang in Miami, following up with Sailing World Cup Mallorca silver, the Greek racer missed out on a podium place at the European, Olympic Test Event and Santander 2014 ISAF Worlds.

Not one to dwell on missed chances Kokkalanis is aiming to get back to top spot in Qingdao, “My goal is to win the competition,” said Kokkalanis, “and of course the prize money since we've never had competitions with prize money. My other goal is to also get high in the ISAF World Rankings.”

Kokkalanis campaigned for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition but missed out on selection so will be making his first trip to Qingdao. Kokkalanis concluded, “I'm really looking forward to competing in the place of the 2008 Olympics. I expect the competition to be very hard in light winds.”

Joining Kokkalanis in the fleet will be a strong Chinese contingent as well as Hong Kong's Ho Tsun Leung, Italy's Marcantonio Baglione and Maksim Oberemko (RUS).

Thirty one sailors will make up the Women's RS:X fleet. The Chinese team have been ones to watch in recent months in the Women's RS:X with many of their team impressing on the international stage. Leading the charge will be 2013 World Cup Qingdao and 2014 World Cup Hyeres silver medallist Jiahui Wu (CHN) and 2013 World Cup Melbourne gold medallist Manjia Zheng (CHN).

Racing is scheduled to commence on 14 October Medal Races bringing the regatta to a close on 18 October.

– ISAF Media

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