Skandia Sail for Gold, the sixth of seven ISAF Sailing World Cup Regattas, will feature many of the Olympic sailors as they enter the final stages of their preparations for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Thirteen teams have entered the Women’s Match Racing Competition at Sail for Gold which is lining up to be a dress rehearsal for London 2012 with those named all competing alongside teams who are fully expected to be announced before the final entry deadline of 9 July 2012.
ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) is undoubtedly the favourite for top honours at Sail for Gold as she enters on the back of four consecutive regatta victories, including the US Women’s Match Racing Qualification Regatta.
Silja Lehtinen (FIN) finished fifth at last year’s regatta but has since had a lull in form. But she has winning form in Weymouth following her gold medal at the 2011 Weymouth and Portland International Regatta.
World #2 Lucy Macgregor (GBR), World #3 Claire Leroy (FRA) and World #4 Ekaterina Skudina (RUS) will also join the party in what will be a highly competitive display of Women’s Match Racing.
Australia’s Tom Slingsby is undefeated at Weymouth and Portland and he will be looking to continue that run to reaffirm his position as Laser favourite. One of the surprise packages of the 2011-12 ISAF Sailing World Cup has been Charlie Buckingham (USA) who has consistently strung together impressive results in four of five regattas sailed so far. But with a highly competitive 96-boat fleet in Weymouth the Laser Standings leader will find competition stiffer.
Beijing’s 2008 Olympic bronze medallist Lijia Xu (CHN) is starting to peak at the right time in the Laser Radial and is undefeated in the 2011-12 World Cup series. Xu also claimed the 2012 Laser Radial World Championship silver medal and has thrown a spanner in the works with many expecting Marit Bouwmeester (NED) and Evi Van Acker (BEL) to run away with the Laser Radial honours at London 2012. But as Sari Multala (FIN) also hits the right note, and Paige Railey (USA), a dangerous competitor, the Women’s fleet will be hotly contested in Weymouth ahead of London 2012.
The Star fleet will feature 20-boats with a wealth of World Championship and Olympic experience spread across the fleet. Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson (GBR) and Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada (BRA) rekindle their rivalry that has been fascinating to watch this year. The Brazilians had the better of the Brits at the Trofeo S.A.R. Princess Sofia MAPFRE in Palma, Spain as well as the Star Worlds in Hyeres, France so victory at Skandia Sail for Gold will set a benchmark ahead of the Olympic Games.
Ben Ainslie (GBR) will be the man to beat in the 45-boat Finn fleet having taken the honours in Palma and at the Finn Gold Cup in Falmouth, Great Britain. Ainslie has dominated the Finn in 2012 and his rivals will find him tough to beat at Sail for Gold.
The Women’s Match Racers get the regatta underway at 10:00 local time on Monday 4 June at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy before the Medal Races bring the regatta to a close on Saturday 9 June