Did you know that the world sailing federation shares its initials with NATO’s International Security Assistance Force?
The unarmed version of the ISAF has a good list of qualified sailors, and you can look back at the World Championships, held late last year in Perth, that qualified most of those sailors after the original picks were made. They also have rankings. And sailing also has separate world championships for each class. (When we say “Worlds” in these picks, we mean the big “Worlds” in Perth. We’ll mention the class championships separately; e.g., “49er Worlds.” We’re putting more stock in the big “Worlds” because they were the primary Olympic qualifier, so there were really no excuses.)
Into the ocean we go …
Men’s RS:X: Israel is sending 2008 bronze medalist Shabar Zubari (sixth in rankings, 17th in Worlds) ahead of Nimrod Mishich (second in rankings, third at Worlds). Gold medalist Tom Ashley, on the other hand, has given up his space to Jon Paul Tobin, who finished one place ahead of him (fifth/sixth) at Worlds and took third at RS:X Worlds. Poland also placed two in the top six at Worlds — runner-up Piotr Myszka and No. 4 Prezmyslaw Miarczynski. Myszka leads the world rankings, but Miarczynski (ranked fourth) gets the slot after being the top Polish sailor in RS:X Worlds. The world champion is Dutchman Dorian van Rijsselberge. The other returning Beijing medalist is France’s Julien Bontemps, who’s ranked third after finishing eighth at Worlds and winning RS:X Worlds earlier this year. Robert Willis has the U.S. slot. Britain’s Nick Dempsey took second at RS:X Worlds. The projection was ISR-POL-FRA; we’ll go with New Zealand, Poland, France
Women’s RS:X: This was the one quota spot the USA didn’t nail down early, but Farrah Hall took care of business this year and got it. Poland had another selection dilemma here with the top two in the rankings, opting for world runner-up Zofia Noceti-Klepacka over top-ranked Maja Dziarnowska. The world champion is Israel’s Lee Korzits. Korzits and Noceti-Klepacka duplicated their finish at RS:X Worlds. Spain’s Marina Alabau took third. Alabau is also third in the rankings behind the two Poles and ahead of British hopeful Bryony Shaw. Was ESP-GBR-FRA; now Israel, Poland, Britain
Men’s Laser: Britain has 2008 gold medalist Paul Goodison, who held off world runner-up Nick Thompson for the spot. Goodison was fifth at Worlds. New Zealand also had a couple of options — Andrew Murdoch, third in Worlds/sixth in the rankings, gets the spot ahead of world No. 4 Andy Maloney. The world champ is Australia’s Tom Slingsby, who may have had home-water advantage for Worlds but also won Laser Worlds and has the No. 1 ranking. The next two in the rankings are South American — Argentina’s Julio Alsogary and Brazil’s Bruno Fontes. The USA’s Rob Crane finished ahead of Fontes at Worlds. Was AUS-GBR-ESP; now Australia, Britain, New Zealand
Women’s Laser Radial: The USA’s Paige Railey finished third at Worlds, took ninth at Laser Radial Worlds (note to self: open a theme park by this name) and is sixth in the rankings but will win here. We aren’t playing many hunches, but that’s one. She has waited a long time for her shot after sharing this class with Anna Tunnicliffe for so long. It was an all-Benelux 1-2 at Worlds — the Netherlands’ Marit Boowmeester won the world title ahead of Belgium’s Evi Van Acker. Bouwmeester also leads the rankings ahead of Britain’s Alison Young. Lithuania’s Gintare Volungeviciute Scheidt won Laser Radial Worlds. Was USA-NED-BEL, which would still be a decent pick, but we’ll take USA, Netherlands, Britain
SNL’s Laser Cats: Guess we won’t see these sketches any more with Andy Samberg leaving.
Men’s 470: Australia’s Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page convincingly won the world title, matched that performance at 470 Worlds and hold the top spot in the rankings four years after Page won gold with Nathan Wilmot. Britain’s Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell were second in 2011, with Croatia’s Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic third. Israel’s Gideon Kliger and Eran Sela were a close fourth in Worlds but are second in the rankings ahead of the Croatian pair. That’s puzzling to us because the Croatians also took third in 470 Worlds, well ahead of Israel (one of Israel’s sponsors, incidentally: Under Armour). Those are your favorites, though we’ll point out that Americans Stuart McNay and Graham Biehl are ranked fifth. Was AUS-GBR-FRA; now Australia, Britain, Croatia
Women’s 470: Lots of new partnerships in this event. Dutch silver medalist Lobke Berkhout is now with Lisa Westerhof, Brazilian bronze medalist Fernanda Oliviera is now with Ana Luiza Barbachan, and British hopeful Hannah Mills finally settled with Saskia Clark. The USA’s Amanda Clark also needed time to settle down with Sarah Lihan. Of the new pairings, the British were most successful at Worlds, finishing second behind Spain’s Tara Pacheco and Berta Betanzos. The Dutch duo was 10th, the Americans were 12th, and the Brazilians were 26th. The rankings reflect some of the shuffling along with the Mills/Clark win at 470 Worlds. The top pair is Japan’s Ai Kondo and Wakako Tabata, who finished sixth at Worlds. Then the Spaniards, then Clark (with multiple partners), then the Dutch, then Mills (with multiple partners), then France’s Camille Lecointre and Mathilde Geron, then Italy’s Giulia Conto (with multiple partners). Got that? Was FRA-ITA-GBR; now Spain, Britain, Japan
49er: Australia’s Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen have the world title and top ranking. Denmark’s Allan Norregaard and Peter Lang are next on the list but had to earn their slot above Emil and Simon Toft Nielssen, who finished third at Worlds. The Australians also won 49er Worlds ahead of New Zealand’s Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, then Norregaard and Lang. Britain also had an interesting selection, with neither of the two pairs that finished in the top six at Worlds getting the call while former world champions Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes return from Rhodes’ rib injury. (The pick was a bit controversial.) Germany’s Tobias Schadewaldt, ranked third, cycled through three crewmen before settling with Hannes Baumann. Americans Erik Storck and Trevor Moore finished ninth at Worlds. Was AUT-GBR-ITA; now Australia, Denmark, Germany
Finn: Three-time gold medalist Ben Ainslie of Britain and his American rival, Zach Railey (yes, Paige Railey’s brother) finished 1-2 in Beijing. Ainslie’s ranking is irrelevant, given his other sailing interests, and Britain didn’t explode in controversy when Ainslie was selected ahead of three sailors who finished ahead of him at Worlds (including the sailors in first and third). Ainslie did win the prestigious Gold Cup off the Cornwall coast in May. The Netherlands’ Pieter-Jan Postma broke up the British sweep, with Denmark’s Jonas Hoegh Christensen and Spain’s Rafael Trujillo taking fourth and fifth. Railey was a disappointing ninth at Worlds and is ranked eighth. Trujillo has the top ranking. Was GBR-CRO-USA; now Britain, Netherlands, Spain
Star: The world champs are Brazil’s Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada, the Beijing silver medalists. Beijing bronze medalist Fredrik Loof (Sweden) has the top ranking with Max Salminen. The rest of the podium at Worlds: Germany’s Robert Stanjek and Frithjof Kleen, then the USA’s Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih. Our original picks got first and second right at Worlds, but the Americans messed it up by finishing ahead of Swedes. UPDATE: The British duo of Iain Percy and Andrew “Bart” Simpson, the defending champions, led at the World Championships until Percy hurt his back. They came back this year and finished second at Star Worlds behind Scheidt-Prada. Given that bit of info, we’ll change the picks. Was BRA-GER-SWE; now Britain, Brazil, Germany
Elliot 6m: The women’s match race is a new event, and it has attracted American Anna Tunnicliffe, who won gold in Laser Radial in Beijing. Tunnicliffe, Deborah Capozzi and Molly Vandemoer took the world title over Britain’s Lucy MacGregor, Annie Lush and Kate MacGregor. The next spots: France, Russia, Australia, Sweden. The rankings are similar: USA, Britain, France, Finland. But Finland beat Tunnicliffe and crew in Match Racing Worlds, so we’ll bump them up. Was GBR-FRA-USA; now USA, Britain, Finland