Lise VIDAL, the 25 year old ISAF World Ranked number one from France, has shown good form recently and looks like a good contender for the title of World Champion. She finished a credible ninth at the Sydney Olympic Games at the age of 22 and since then has steadily grown in confidence and ability, to now lead the ISAF World Sailing Rankings since 30 May. Her first Grade 1 regatta win this year came recently at the SPA Regatta in Medemblik, and she has finished within the top four in any regattas that mattered this year and looks set for a fantastic future.
Defending World Champion, Barbara KENDALL (NZL) returns to challenge once again for the title she won in 2002 and although having competed at only five top level regattas in the last 2 year period is still continuing to make a fantastic comeback to the discipline. Her ranking of 45 is perhaps misleading as she doesnâ€™t have the full seven regatta results to count, but in four of those five events, she has come out as winner.
Barbara is an old-hand at Olympic competition and will be one of the oldest female competitors at 36. She competed at the 1992 Olympic Regatta where she claimed the Gold medal, in 1996 claimed the Silver and in 2000 completed the hat trick with a Bronze medal. Who knows what Barbara will have up her sleeve for the 2003 ISAF World Championship and the Olympics. Barbaraâ€™s performance over the past three Olympic Games, certainly marks amongst the greatest achievements of any Olympic sailing athlete.
Amelie LUX (GER) Olympic silver medallist in cannot be discounted. A top string of solid results, and she shows that with her result in Sydney, she can pull it out of the bag when it matters. Germany have already gained that vital entry to the Olympic Regatta so Amelie needs only to score her best possible result. Back in 2000, Amelie became the first German woman to win a Gold Medal in sailing at the Olympics.
What of Alessandra SENSINI (ITA), the outstanding Gold Medallist from the 2000 Olympic Games, who won her Gold on countback from Amelie LUX and in so doing made history by becoming the first female medallist in sailing for Italy, and only the second gold medal. Alessandra is currently ranked 13 in the world, and with a fifth at the 1996 Olympic Games, followed by the Sydney Gold will leave this high achiever wanting for more. Easily qualified for Athens 2004, and with no real competition from other Italian sailors, Alessandra will be purely aiming for World Championship status.
Within the fleet, it is only Barbara, Alessandra and Lee Lai, who have participated at each Olympic Regatta since the introduction of the womenâ€™s discipline in 1992 â€“ and they are still at the top.
Nations Already Qualified for the 2004 Olympic Regatta from results at the 2002 Mistral Class World Championship:
New Zealand (NZL), Italy (ITA), France (FRA), Great Britain (GBR), Germany (GER), China (CHN), Spain (ESP), Poland (POL), Hong Kong (HKG), Switzerland (SUI).