The best female Laser sailors in the world including Ireland's Annalise Murphy will be sharpening their skills and tactics ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games when the 2015 Laser Radial Women’s World Championships get underway in Mussanah, Oman, later this month.
In their last major competition before Olympic sailing starts on 15 August 2016, and the final qualifying event of the cycle, the 100 top Laser Radial sailors including London 2012 gold medallist Lijia Xu from China and Evi Van Acker from Belgium who is ranked world number one, will be arriving at Al Mussanah Sports City determined to leave their mark on this fiercely competitive fleet.
In October, Mussanah played host to the hugely successful RS:X World Windsurfing Championships and the Rio-like conditions in the Gulf of Oman are similarly expected to produce new rivalries and see old scores settled among the medal hungry Laser women.
Their World Championship campaigns will start on Tuesday 10 November when they descend on the Millennium Resort race village to begin their acclimatisation and training before the first qualifying race gets underway on Thursday 20 November.
Six days of racing, with two back to back races each day, will culminate in a prize-giving and closing ceremony attended by a host of dignitaries from the Sultanate of Oman, event organisers Oman Sail and from the International Laser Class Association.
With Van Acker looking to reaffirm her position in the fleet, competition promises to be tough. One of her main rivals Gintare Volungeviciute-Scheidt from Lithuania won the recent Test Event in Rio and will have received plenty of handy tips on the conditions at Mussanah from Brazilian husband Robert who swept to victory in the Laser World Championships in Oman in 2013.
Dutch rival Marit Bouwmeester, silver medallist at London 2012 and ranked fourth in the world, Alison Young from Great Britain in third and Anne-Marie Rindom from Denmark will also be keen to establish themselves as contenders for the gold medal in nine months time while Paige Riley from the US will be looking to repeat her 4th place success from the Test Event in August.
Chinese interest will be running high as Lijia Xu returns to competition for the first time in two years though she has already made it clear she will not be campaigning at Rio 2016, opting instead to continue her studies in England and explore other sailing opportunities. Laser Radial fans are in for a real treat as these top class contenders battle it out for honours at such a critical time in their preparations in a venue recognised as a perfect warm up opportunity for Rio.
“We are delighted and proud to be welcoming the Laser Radial Women’s World Championships to Oman and hope the athletes and their coaches from all the different nations enjoy the same success as the three Laser World Championships we staged in 2013 and the recent RS:X Worlds last month,” said Salma Al Hashmi, Director of Events and Marketing for Oman Sail.
“It is especially pleasing that the 2015 Laser Radial Women’s World Championships race management will be officials from Oman Sail, trained here in Oman and now officiating at top class events all around the world. We send the athletes, race managers and everyone our best wishes for a successful competition.”
In total, 100 sailors representing 50 nations will attend the 2015 Laser Radial Women’s World Championships. A further 39 coaches will be in attendance alongside other back up staff members of the national squads and Laser class officials.