Aarhus World Championships
The Laser and Laser Radial will have biggest fleets in Aarhus with 284 sailors from 71 nations competing in the Hempel Sailing World Championships.
Competition in these fleets is always tough with so many strong competitors and both fleets include current Olympic champions Tom Burton (AUS) and Marit Bouwmeester (NED).
Racing in the Laser and Laser Radial will commence on Friday 3 August and conclude on Friday 10 August with the deciding Medal Races that will be streamed live online here - https://www.youtube.com/worldsailingtv.
Over 160 sailors will be battling in the men’s Laser fleet, which counts four Olympic medallists. All of the competitors have the aim of securing one of 14 Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games nations spots in the Laser. It will be intense and with such a large fleet, there is no room for errors.
An abundance of top ranked Laser sailors will be attending including Tom Burton, Philipp Buhl (GER), Sam Meech (NZL), Pavlos Kontides (CYP) and Nick Thompson (GBR).
Burton won silver in the previous combined World Championships, in Santander, Spain (2014) but ever the competitor, he has his eye on gold this time round. The Australian sailor scored first place at the 2018 Miami, USA, World Cup Series event, and bronze at round 3 of the 2018 World Cup Series in Hyères, France back in April.
Philipp Buhl is fired up after recently winning gold the 2018 World Cup Series Final in Marseille, France. Buhl just missed out on a podium spot in the 2014 Worlds but after a solid year of top performances, he’s looking better than ever.
Rio 2016 bronze medallist, Meech, has had an immense year, securing plenty of gold and silver medals. He won gold at round 1 of the 2018 World Cup Series in Gamagori, Japan, and at Sail Sydney held in Woollahra, Australia. The Kiwi Laser sailor also took silver at the 49th Trofeo S.A.R Princesa Sofia in Palma, Spain, and round 3 of the 2018 World Cup Series in, Hyères, France. Ahead of the Hempel Sailing World Championships, he took another silver in the Laser Senior European Championship in La Rochelle, France.
Cyprus’ Kontides is a huge sporting star in Cyprus and is a popular sailor in the boat park. Kontides won gold in the 2017 Laser Standard Men's World Championship, in Split, Croatia. He followed it up with silver at the first round of the 2018 World Cup Series in Gamagori, and bronze at the 2018 Laser Senior European Championship in La Rochelle.
As one of the most experienced sailors in the fleet and a former world champion, Great Britain’s Thompson will also be one to watch out for. Thompson won bronze in the 2014 Worlds and bronze in round 2 of the 2018 World Cup Series in Miami, USA.
There is plenty of strength and depth in the Laser fleet and further contenders include Matt Wearn (AUS), Croatian Olympic silver medallist Tonci Stipanovic (CRO), Jean Baptiste Bernaz (FRA), Jesper Stalheim (SWE) and Charlie Buckingham (USA).
The Women’s One Person Dinghy competition raced in the Laser Radials will feature a highly competitive 119-strong fleet.
Marit Bouwmeester (NED) currently holds every accolade possible in the Laser Radial. She’s the defending World Champion, Rio 2016 Olympic champion, recently won gold at the European Championships and is 2017 Rolex World Sailor of the Year.
It will be hard to look past Bouwmeester due to her ability to put in a perfect performance when it really matters but there are a host of hungry competitors standing in waiting, ready to attack.
Emma Plasschaert (BEL), Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN), Mária Érdi (HUN) and Vasileia Karachaliou (GRE) all lie in waiting, ready to strike.
Plasschaert comes fresh from her victory in the 2018 World Cup Series Final and over the last 12 months she has shown great consistency at the World Cup Series of events. She won silver in Gamagori, Japan last October and followed it up with silver in Miami at the start of 2018.
Denmark’s Rindom will be carrying the hopes of her home nation on her shoulders but she is very familiar territory racing on her home waters. The Rio 2016 bronze medallist has, so far, had a cracking year – winning gold in the 49th Trofeo S.A.R Princesa Sofia, gold in the XIII Andalusian Olympic Week, in Cádiz, Spain and gold in the first round of the 2018 World Cup Series in Gamagori, Japan.
Hungarian Radial sailor, Mária Érdi just won silver at the World Cup Series Final in Marseille and is rising up the world rankings fast. The 20-year-old, a former Youth Sailing World Championship champion, has sailed against some of the best and this is only the start for her.
Greece’s Karachaliou has shown limitless progress in her competitions and she is certainly one to watch out for. Karachaliou won gold at the Semana Olímpica Canaria, in Spain, and silver at the 2017 Sailing World Cup Final in Santander, Spain.
The Laser Radial competitors will be targeting one of 18 Tokyo 2020 Olympic Sailing Competition spots.
Further contenders include Monika Mikkola (FIN), Mathilde de Kerangat (FRA), Alison Young (GBR), Josefin Olsson (SWE), Dolores Moreira Fraschini (URU) and Paige Railey (USA).
Both classes are packed with determined sailors but with Aarhus’s tricky conditions and with such huge fleets, who knows who will take the podium spots.
The Lasers and Radial will start racing on Friday 3 August and races will be streamed live here - https://www.youtube.com/worldsailingtv
By Aadil Seedat - World Sailing