With the next edition of the RS500 World Championships just around the corner it's time to take a look at some of the runners and riders who will be lighting up the waters around Weymouth next week and more importantly who I could think of more to say about than “they’re quick”.
After a few years with low British participation, this year it's the Brits turn not to have to pay for a ferry (sorry IOW crews) and they have turned up in numbers, but who will be the ones to watch after so long away from the international circuit?
Peter and James Curtis, were the only GBR team out in Como but the 2019 World Champs are looking forward to some more wind in Weymouth. Always strong when the wind blows, they took out a dominant victory at the most recent Eurocup, in the big wind and waves of the North Sea regatta. This heavy-weight team are ones to watch if the forecast looks fruity.
Mike Saul and Oliver Kent. The only other British team that the rest of the world have seen in the last few years, they stormed to 5 race wins at the 2019 worlds in Lipno. Maybe lacking time in the boat recently, Oli has been off at University although suspiciously close to Weymouth…
Tim and Heather Wilkins. The three-time World Champs have been dormant on the international scene for a few years, quietly training away with the rest of the Isle of White squad. However, this year they have come back with a vengeance traveling 8 hours for the UK circuit event at Filey and winning the most recent Lymington event. Ones to watch if it's 0-25 knots, they can frequently be seen planing down the run while the rest of us are trying to work out if there is any wind.
Hugh and Luke Watson. This father and son duo have taken the UK fleet by storm in the last few years. Deadly if it's light, they are an unknown force in a blow but Hugh has enough experience in his locker to make me think they won’t be slow. Look out for them port flyering the fleet.
Simon and Katie Horsfield. Another strong recent entry into the UK fleet, they have upgraded to the 500 after much success in other boats. A strong showing at last year’s UK end of seasons saw them take the win over a strong field. Rumour has it that this pair of newlyweds spent their honeymoon in an intense training camp.
Steve and Sarah Cockerill. 2nd last time in Weymouth to a certain Olympian all while they were in a charter boat for the first time. They now have their own boat that they have been able to train in. But there is hope for the rest of us, Steve has given away all his secrets! Top Tips from the Boat Whisperer - Steve Cockerill - Improve your Sailing - Full Talk
The Not Brits
At a disadvantage to team GB this year, this group of talented sailors have how much they spent on Fuel and ferries getting here to distract them. But how much will the last two Worlds of practice count for?
Jakub Dobry and Tereza Dobra. The reigning World Champs are back to defend their crown. Jakub is fresh of the back from qualifying team CZE to the SSL Gold Cup second round and they have been training hard. Will these landlocked Sailors be able to handle the waves of Weymouth Bay and will the speed that saw them consistently at the front in Como translate to salt water?
Sara Tkadlecova and Klára Houšková. This lightning fast pair are definitely the dark horses of the competition. Sara has spent a lot of time going fast in a 49erFX and they could have podiumed in Lipno if it were not for gear failure. Watch out for their great starting and don’t be surprised to see them lead round a few top marks.
Icapo and Federico Roncuzzi. The brothers have been up near the pointy end of the fleet for a few years now and know how to go well. In the past they have been let down by a few poor results so if they can dial it in, a medal winning series is on the cards.
Giulia Rossi and Adriana Campanella. Almost always on the ladies podium but yet to stick it all together for an overall title bid, these two get better every year. They will go head to head with Sara and Klára for the womens title.
Jesper Overbeeke and Merle Meinhardt. Third at last years Worlds and the most recent Eurocup event Jesper and Merle can’t be counted out from going a couple better this time round. Rapid in the light stuff they now have an extra years training under their belts and with an average age a lot less than the British teams that makes a big difference.
Hylke Kooistra and Thomas Holewijn. Last but not least on this list, Hylke and Thomas were 2nd in Lipno, a 4th in the last Eurocup shows that they still have great speed even if they sometimes sail past the top mark. Watch out for them if the wind is up.
As long as it took me to write this, it is not an exhaustive list so watch out for some of the names I have missed.
The RS 500 World Championship runs 1st - 5th August at WPSNA.