High Flying Laser, Laser Radial Fleets Set For Abu Dhabi
Published on November 16th, 2014
November 16, 2014 – The ISAF Sailing World Cup Final in Abu Dhabi, UAE will welcome the high flyers in the Laser and Laser Radial with every racer eyeing up victory. Sailors in the 20-boat Laser and 17-boat Laser Radial fleets will be gunning for gold at the inaugural ISAF Sailing World Cup Final from November 26-30, 2014. A shortened format of six fleet races, with one discard, and a single Medal Race will ensure close racing with sailors aiming to keep mistakes at a minimum.
World #1 Tom Burton (AUS) will head to the Emirati Capital with one thing on his mind, victory. Burton has consistently proven himself at the highest levels, taking gold at the 2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup Mallorca and Hyeres. The Australian knows how to win from the front and comeback from near disaster.
At the 2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup Qingdao Burton had a weak start, finishing down the pack in both races but like a true champion he moved up the leader board day by day to claim a well-earned bronze.
His performance in Qingdao was an eye opener and with six weeks in-between regattas he has had time to get back into the groove, “I wasn’t really happy with the way I sailed [in Qingdao],” commented Burton. “If you’re not on your game, it doesn’t matter who you are, you’ll get hurt. Going into Abu Dhabi, Melbourne and the Australian summer I’ve got a few things to work on that’s for sure.”
Sailors make many sacrifices in life to compete and Burton has certainly made one for the opportunity to compete against the best of the best in Abu Dhabi, “It should be good racing and hopefully I’ll go well. It’s the same time as my sister’s wedding so I’ve got to give a shout out to her and say thanks for letting me go to Abu Dhabi.”
World #3 Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) came out on top in Qingdao and goes into Abu Dhabi with a good year under his belt. He took gold at ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami at the turn of the year and followed it up victory at the Laser European Championship. A disappointing 21st at the Santander 2014 ISAF Worlds set the Croatian back but Qingdao gold followed to give him confidence in advance of the ISAF Sailing World Cup Final.
London 2012 Olympic silver medallist Pavlos Kontides (CYP) has been a consistent contender for ISAF Sailing World Cup honours over the last 18 months. However he has been unable to turn his consistent, meticulous and precise racing into gold. At ISAF Sailing World Cup Qingdao he missed out on gold in a tense battle with Stipanovic but he can see gold on the horizon, potentially at Abu Dhabi, “I was disappointed not to win gold in Qingdao, it was really near. I’ve been trying many years now to win gold, I have many silvers but I will keep on fighting and I’m sure if I keep sailing the way I’ve been sailing then gold is pretty near.
“I’m really looking forward to Abu Dhabi because we expect stable conditions there and it will be very tactical from the start and speed wise. Every mistake will count so you just can’t make mistakes. If you want to be good in Abu Dhabi then you’ll have to sail at the top of your game.”
The Laser fleet features the highest performers with numerous World Championship medals and Olympic appearances within the pack. Further competition will come from Jean Baptise Bernaz (FRA), Nick Thompson (GBR), Rutger Van Schaardenburg (NED), Andy Maloney (NZL), Sam Meech (NZL), Gustavo Lima (POR), Jesper Stalheim (SWE) and Charlie Buckingham (USA). All of the fleet have the capabilities and skillset to take gold but with the stakes and pressure high the game is wide open.
The 17-boat Laser Radial fleet is packed full of Olympic, World and World Cup medallists. They will all battle it out for the right to become the first ISAF Sailing World Cup Final Laser Radial champion.
Nine of the world’s top ten Laser Radial racers will compete in Abu Dhabi with very little separating the bunch over recent regattas.
London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Evi van Acker (BEL) heads to the Emirates in excellent form. She claimed ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyeres gold in April and followed it up with bronze at the Aquece Rio – International Sailing Regatta 2014 and at the Santander 2014 ISAF Worlds. The Belgian World #2 knows how to hit the front of the pack and will be looking to lay down an early marker when racing commences.
Croatia’s Tina Mihelic has had a solid 14 months of racing. She claimed her first World Championship title in the Laser Radial in September 2013 and has silvers from the European Championship and ISAF Sailing World Cup Qingdao under her belt.
With some time back home in her native Split in Croatia the World #5 is hoping to peak come race day one, “I’ll do some training before Abu Dhabi and I hope I’ll be in good shape,” commented Mihelic. “I’m looking forward to it and hope we’ll have nice conditions. It’s my first time there and I am going to enjoy it.”
As sailors continue their preparations for the Rio 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition Mihelic sees the regattas as an integral part of the road to Rio as she concluded, “I think it’s really important because the top sailors are going there and for sure, it’s going to be fun.”
Josefin Olsson (SWE) picked up silver at the Santander 2014 ISAF Worlds and will also be in contention as will the experienced heads of Tatiana Drozdovskaya (BLR), Veronika Fenclova (CZE) and Paige Railey (USA) and the ever consistent Tuula Tenkanen (FIN), Dongshuang Zhang (CHN), Anne Marie Rindom (DEN) and Chloe Martin (GBR).
Laser racing is scheduled to commence at 12:00 local time on Thursday, November 27 in Abu Dhabi. The Laser Radial will follow at 14:00.
About ISAF Sailing World Cup Final Abu Dhabi
All ten Olympic events will be contested in Abu Dhabi from 26-30 November, with an open kiteboarding event joining the fray around Lulu Island off the UAE capital’s stunning Corniche.
With just 20 boats in each event the competition is set to be fierce. Equipment will be supplied in eight of the ten Olympic events (RS:X sailors shall bring their own equipment) and support will be available for travel expenses and accommodation.
The ten Olympic events will contest an opening series and a Medal Race with the kiteboard fleet using a short track format. Prize money will be in awarded to the top three overall finishers in each of the Olympic events from a total prize purse of US$200,000.
The qualification system for the 2014 Final was published on July 30, 2014 and is included Addendum A of the Notice of Race. Click here for the Notice of Race. The first sailors to secure their place were confirmed at the ISAF Sailing World Championships in Santander where the top ten in each event were offered a place.
Report by ISAF