Tokyo2020 runners and riders
Perhaps there has never been a more difficult Olympic quad, or should that be pent (it has been a 5 rather than 4 years between games) to call out the top performers? With so few competitions in the 2nd half of the Olympic cycle the chances to compare the top sailors head-to-head have been few and far between and the times they raced on the Enoshima Olympic waters against each other is now a distant memory. Sailing is currently a consistency sport and will remain so until we end up with the winner of the last race wins the regatta format (something that incidentally I would not be a fan of). Therefore, changes in the pecking order can take quite some time, so when not sure we can look back to when we had dominate sailors in each class.... [click to read more].
The Dutch seem to have perfected the ability to peak at the right time with Dorian van Rijsselberghe NED winning back-to-back Olympics in 2012 and 2016. Now it is Triple World champion (2019,2020,2021) Kiran Badloe gunning for 2020. You would be unwise to bet against him. Maybe the most experienced sailor in the fleet is Piotr Myszka POL and from the young windsurfers Yoav Cohen from Israel is perhaps still on the steepest learning curve, and having recently won the 2020 Europeans, time is on his side.
Lilian de Geus from the Netherlands joins Kiran as a triple World Champion (2018,2020,2021). From the Rio Olympics, Gold medallist Charlie Picon from France has been amazingly consistent, with Katy Spychakov ISR recently hitting great form. The great unknown is Lu from China who won the last World Championships she competed in (2019) but hasn’t raced outside China for nearly 2 years.
From Europe both Philipp Buhl GER and JB Bernaz FRA have had stand out performances on their week, but we haven’t seen the top sailors from down under, Matt Wearn AUS and Sam Meech NZL race, so perhaps this is hardest class to call. It would be amazing to see Laser legend Robert Scheidt gain a historic 6th Olympic medal, but competing in a fleet loaded with talent it will be a hard ask.
Two names spring to the top Marit Bouwmeester NED currently Olympic, World and European Champion and Anne-Marie Rindom DEN currently ranked number two are the most likely to be fighting for the top spot. Marit has recently returned from injury and hoping to be back to full form for race 1. Any one of about 10 names are likely to fill the final podium spot, making this one of the most interesting classes to watch.
This is now the class’s swansong at the Olympic games. It is a battle against time to see if Giles Scott GBR can return to his all-conquering ways by the start of the Olympic competition. For consistent performance over the last few years, we have Zsombor Berecz HUN. The top up and comer is Joan Cardona ESP, who took the last European Olympic spot for the games. Lastly we should not forget 2021 World Championship bronze medallist Josh Junior NZL coached by 2021 World Champion Andy Maloney NZL, described by many as the best two man single handed time in the world.
The Kiwis made it to 2021 470 European championships and that says it all, a win in a charter boat must mark them out as one of the favourites, and for consistency we have Matt Belcher and Will Ryan AUS. For light winds current World Champions Anton Dahlberg and Fredrik Bergstrom SWE have always been a stand-out team, with Spain’s Jordi Xammar Hernandez and Nicolas Rodriguez being the most raced team.
The up-and-coming team could also be the favourite: the Camille Lecointre and Aloise Retornaz ESP. The eventual winners will be much determined by the racing conditions with Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre GBR often having an edge on the rest of the fleet in the strong winds. Ai Kondo Yoshida and Miho Yoshioka from Japan are also definitely to be watched but have done few international regattas in the last 2 years, but does that matter if they are racing on home waters?
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke NZL have been almost unstoppable in every class they have raced recently. They have done a huge amount of racing recently but not in the 49er. If they are on the pace then for sure they will be on the podium. Diego Botin and Lago Marra ESP seemed to find a 6th gear in Lanzarote which could prove to have very similar conditions to Enoshima. Sime Fantela and Mohival Fantela CRO have always been a good team under pressure, and this is an Olympics like no other.
Martine Grael and Kahena BRA the reigning Olympic Champions have been putting in the hours. The Dutch Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz again look like providing strong competition, whatever the conditions. Just like in the 49er and indeed all high-performance classes, Spain is to be watched with Tamara Echegoyen and Paula Martin ESP. Lastly if the breeze is up watch for Team GBR Charlotte Dobson and Saskia Tidey.
Racing a Nacra in the waters of Enoshima is a tough challenge. Tara Pacheco with her crew Florian Trittel from a kitesurfing background ESP are definitely up to the challenge with John Gibson and Anna Burnet GBR and Lin Cenholt and Christian Lubeck DEN both with a great chance of filling the podium. Again, the unknown is Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin AUS. No doubt they will be super-fast, but will they be Olympic medalling winning race sharp.
Jon Emmett has over 20 years of coaching experience from grass roots to Olympic Gold.