Dempsey and Shaw joined by Izzy Hamilton and Tom Squres at Santander test event. But who will be victorious?
British Sailing Team Manager Stephen Park has one eye on the Rio 2016 qualification process this week as a number of his charges will be in action in Santander at a test regatta for the 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships.
The combined 2014 World Championships, to be held at the northern Spanish venue in exactly one years’ time, will form the first opportunity for nations to qualify their 2016 berths in each of the ten Olympic sailing classes, in an event which Park describes as the ‘biggest event in this four-year cycle’ as teams build towards the Games in Brazil.
This week’s test regatta, the Santander City Trophy (9-15 September), sees 25 British sailors set to compete across seven classes as part of the learning process ahead of next year’s main event, including 2012 Olympic medallists Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark, Luke Patience with Joe Glanfield, RS:X World Champion and 2012 silver medallist Nick Dempsey, and Alison Young, who earned her first Laser Radial European Championship medal last week in Dublin Bay.
“The 2014 World Championships will be the first qualifying event for the Olympic Games in 2016, qualifying 50 percent of the nations to take part at the Olympic Games in 2016,” explained Park, the RYA’s Olympic Manager, who’s leading the British Sailing Team for his fourth Olympic cycle.
“It’s going to be the biggest event for the Olympic Sailing classes in this four-year cycle and arguably, for a lot of the nations, the more important one.
“From a British team perspective the 2014 Worlds, as with every World Championship, will be an important part of the four-year programme and the main opportunity this week is for our sailors, coaches and support staff to make sure they’ve got good familiarity with Santander both on and off the water.
“This initial groundwork will help ensure that when they come back in 2014 that ultimately they have everything under control and are able to focus entirely on the racing on a day to day basis with the aim of maximising our potential for good results at the 2014 World Championships.”
There will be no British representation this week in the Finn event, with those sailors having recently concluded their World Championship, nor in the 49er and 49erFX events where British crews are honing their preparations for their World Championships in Marseilles at the end of this month.
But Park believes this test regatta will be a valuable learning opportunity for when the pressure is on a year’s time.
“We’ve got our top sailors from all our other classes in attendance, and those sailors are really just trying to get an understanding of this venue, particularly to understand the local wind, the local tide and the factors that they’re going to need to focus on if they want to optimise their performance in time for that 2014 Worlds and give them the best opportunity of coming away in 12 months’ time with some medals.”
“We’re hoping that the 2014 World Championships will be an opportunity for Great Britain to qualify in all ten of the Olympic classes at the first opportunity as we did for 2012 at the Perth 2011 Worlds and in Cascais four years before that,” Park continued.
“It’s a great opportunity to make sure that we’ve secured places in every event for the 2016 Games. The event itself from a sailor perspective, as one of the World Championships in the couple of years running up to the Games, will certainly play a part in the minds of the Olympic selection process.
“Whether it becomes one of the defined events for the Olympic selection process of course time will tell, but as a World Championship two years out from the Olympic Games certainly the selection committee are going to be keeping a good eye on those results as sailors begin to set out their stall for the final run-in to the Olympic year just over 12 months later.”
Racing dates for Santander City Trophy:
470 Men, 470 Women, Finn: Racing commences Monday 9 September, with medal racing on Saturday 14 September:
49er, 49erFX, Nacra 17, RS:X Men, RS:X Women: Racing commences Tuesday 10 September, with medal racing on Sunday 14 September
Laser, Laser Radial: Racing commences on Thursday 12 September, with medal racing on Sunday 15 September
British Sailing Team entries:
Alex Mills Barton
Luke Patience-Joe Glanfield
Hannah Mills-Saskia Clark
Sophie Weguelin-Eilidh McIntyre
Ben Saxton-Hannah Diamond
Pippa Wilson-John Gimson
Lucy Macgregor-Tim Carter
Rupert White-Nikki Boniface
For full regatta results and information visit www.santander2014.com