18 November 2014 – Issued on behalf of ISAF – The ISAF Sailing World Cup Final in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates will see high octane racing in the 49er and 49erFX with the leading lights of the skiff world heading to the Emirati capital.
From 26-30 November 2014 a fleet of 20 in the 49er and 18 in the 49erFX will battle it out at top speed in a bid to become the inaugural ISAF Sailing World Cup Final champion within their class.
The 18-boat 49erFX features several of the year’s leading performers with World, European and Sailing World Cup medallists present throughout the fleet.
2013 49erFX World Champions Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (NZL) will be looking to put a disappointing 12th at the Santander 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships behind them by performing in Abu Dhabi.
The Kiwis have been preparing for Abu Dhabi by racing at the Rio 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition venue, amassing two silver medals in competitive fleets and they’re eager to get to the Emirati capital for more competition, “With the majority of the top 49erFX girl’s heading over it will definitely be exciting to race against them all, ” commented Meech, “It’s always nice for us coming from New Zealand to be able to sail against the fleet whenever possible.
“As this will be our first time to Abu Dhabi I think we will just try our best to learn about the venue over the first few days when we are there, but also just to keep an open mind and approach each race day with what conditions we get.”
Since they started their 49erFX campaign together in December 2012 the Kiwis have two ISAF Sailing World Cup gold’s and two silver medals to their name in large fleets. With elite fleets the name of the game in Abu Dhabi and beyond Meech is enthusiastic about the future, “For us we are going into this event quite relaxed and with an open mind. As it is the first time it [ISAF Sailing World Cup Final] has been organised it will be interesting to see how it all pans out, but definitely it is an exciting event which I think will be quite a fun week for us all.
“I think the concept of the World Cup Final is so new that it has changed the way that many sailors approach world cup events and that it will definitely change the way the circuit looks over the coming years, with the priority now on the ranking system whereas before for us it was all just about getting to the events for big fleet racing.”
Long term rivals and good friends of Maloney and Meech, Ida Marie Baad Nielsen and Marie Thusgaard Olsen (DEN) will join the Kiwis in the fleet. The Danes retained their European title in July and added World Championship silver in September. In terms of an Abu Dhabi target, Olsen knows exactly what she wants, “Our personal goal is to come home with a medal, ” smiled the Dane.
“It will be a fleet only with the top sailors so the sailing will be as close as we see it in gold fleet races. The prize money in the event is something we are not used to and with that extra motivational factor; I think we will see people giving everything they have.
“It’s always exciting to race against the top sailors. A little mistake and you find yourself in the bottom of the fleet but on the other hand a win counts for more and that brings excitement into the racing.”
London 2012 Women’s Match Racing Olympic gold medallist Tamara Echegoyen and 2011 470 World Champion Berta Betanzos (ESP) are set to compete in Abu Dhabi. The World #4 duo have progressed nicely as a partnership and took their first title together at Kieler-Woche earlier this year. Top eight finishes at World, European and World Cup regattas ensure they bring good form into Abu Dhabi and they’ll be in contention when the starting gun sounds.
Italy’s Giulia Conti and Francesca Clapcich are two of the most experienced sailors within the fleet with four Olympic appearances between them. The pair picked up bronze at the 2014 ISAF Worlds and have Abu Dhabi gold in their sights.
Further strong contenders come in the shape of Jena Hansen and Katja Salskov-Iversen (DEN), Sarah Steyaert and Julie Bossard (FRA), Nina Keijzer and Claire Blom (NED) and Lisa Ericson and Hanna Klinga (SWE).
A highly competitive 20-boat 49er fleet will fight it out for the ISAF Sailing World Cup Final gold medal in Abu Dhabi.
The 20-boat size mirrors the Rio 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition and with a high level of competition the sailors head to the Emirates pumped up for the test, “It’s going to be an awesome challenge, ” explained 2014 49er European bronze medallist Dylan Fletcher (GBR) who sails with Alain Sign, “I expect everyone is going to be on form and racing well, especially as I think most of the teams who have been racing in Rio are coming to Abu Dhabi too.
“We have never done an event where we have had supplied kit so for us that’s going to be exciting and challenging. We are looking forward to some tight racing with just 20 boats, the same as at the Olympics. We do not get many opportunities to race in a small high quality fleet, which for us is what we love about 49er racing. Small fleets, very high standard and loads of races, that’s all we want, ” exclaimed Fletcher.
Over four days of competition Fletcher will get his wish with 10 races, including the Medal Race, scheduled to play out around Lulu Island off the UAE capital’s stunning Corniche.
As well as ISAF Sailing World Cup Final honours being up for grabs the prospect of sailing against the fastest skiff sailors in an Olympic sized pack will make for a stimulating environment with every competitor aiming to impress. America’s Brad Funk and Trevor Burd are just one of those teams who are full of anticipation, “It’s awesome to sail in this fleet, ” said Burd. “The small fleet simulates Olympic or gold fleet racing, which requires a different set of skills than qualifying in large fleets.
“We know everyone is coming in tuned up, we just sailed against most of them in Brazil. We’re ready to go, same as everyone else.
“We’re coming off a very positive few weeks racing in Rio de Janeiro against a lot of the top teams. We took some time off after the Worlds in Santander so it’s good to get back into the swing of racing before heading to Abu Dhabi.
“Our goal for the event is a top five finish. We’re very confident in our speed after the past week of sailing, so we’re looking forward to putting together a solid event.”
2013 World Championship silver medallists Marcus Hansen and Josh Porebski (NZL) echoed the Americans thoughts as Hansen added, “We expect it to be another great event, like all Sailing World Cup events. We are looking forward to checking out and sailing at a new venue. The reason we sail is to compete against the very best in the world. So it is awesome that we will get another chance to come up against the best this year.”
The 49er fleet features numerous World Championship medallists including Great Britain’s 2007 World Champion Stevie Morrison who is competing with Chris Grube, 2009 silver medallist John Pink and two time Men’s 470 silver medallist Stuart Bithell as well as 2013 bronze medallists Manu Dyen and Stephanie Christidis (FRA).
Racing in the 49er is scheduled to commence at 12:00 local time on Thursday 27 November. The 49erFX will follow at 14:00.