The provisional entry list of the six Olympic classes racing at the ASAF Asian Championship 2016 counts one hundred and thirty-eight sailors from 21 nations and it is the biggest event in Asia for the Olympic classes thus far.
The event is also a crucial event in the run up to the Rio Olympics qualification. Nine places on the starting line in Rio in six Olympic classes will be decided over the next week.
Taking place from 05 – 12 March 2016, the ASAF Asian Championships 2016 will be raced on the waters off Abu Dhabi, UAE. Whilst the biggest focus in ASAF Asian Championship 2016 is undoubtedly the Olympic qualification, success at the Championships and securing a podium finish in this event is equally key. Teams are drilling into their final weeks of training, maximising strengths and reducing weaknesses. It the teamwork and intelligence that will win the Championship and the week ahead will be a true test of sailing skills. To win teams need superior talent across all wind and sea conditions and they will be looking to assert their authority at this last Olympic qualifier.
After registration and equipment inspection, the race programme features ten fleet races and one medal race for the lasers and twelve fleet races and a medal race in the RS:X and the 9ers over six days of racing, from 07 to 12 March.
Self-belief, mental toughness, precision manoeuvres will keep one ahead of their rivals. Skills which many of the sailors on the start line at the Championships have in abundance. Most of the sailors and their coaches have been here at Abu Dhabi since early Feb 2016 in preparation. This has helped them learn a little about the local conditions.
“I have to fight it during this event to qualify,” explained Ahmad Ahmadi, representing Iran. “I have worked a lot over the years to reach my dream of representing Iran in sailing at the Olympic Games. It is no doubt hard work and I am always trying to be better than the day before.”
There is plenty of talent to make this Championship far from over until the last second of the last race, and there is most distinctly an air of unfinished business ahead of Olympics.
For Kamolwan ‘Bam’ Chanyim, this event is the pinnacle of almost five years of training, the last three years focused on one ultimate goal: Olympic qualification. ‘I’m feeling ready,’ she said. ‘It will be a difficult regatta. Anything can happen. The conditions are quite tricky and the waves quite big, but I am looking forward to it. I will give my all to this event.’
The four time Thai national champion has been raking in the medals the last few years, winning bronze at the Asian Games 2014, silver at the Asian Beach Games 2014, and gold at the SEA Games 2015, the latter completing her set of SEA Games medals.
Yacht Racing Association of Thailand Coach Tonny Tan said ‘We can see that she is full of enthusiasm and wants to qualify for the Olympics. In my opinion, she is ready.’
We’ve given you a snapshot of just two of the Asian sailors in contention, but there is plenty more firepower amongst the rest of the line-up in the Laser and the Laser Radial fleets.
ABU DHABI – HOST CITY
Captain Ajay Narang, the Championship Director and head of the Events Committee of the Asian Sailing Federation said, “Together with the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, the UAE Sailing and Rowing Federation, Abu Dhabi Sailing and Yacht Club, we relish this exceptional opportunity to showcase Abu Dhabi’s world class facilities for competitive and leisure sailing plus a myriad high-end natural and cultural tourist attractions,’ he said.
Mr Majed Al Mehairi, CEO, Abu Dhabi Sailing and Yacht Club, said, “Abu Dhabi Sailing and Yacht Club is a dedicated sailing facility purpose built to Olympic standards with good steady winds, warm water and ideal sailing conditions while Abu Dhabi itself is a top ranked tourism destination offering a rare mix of magnificent deserts, mountains and seas complemented by a treasured heritage that ensures authentically rich experiences.
Mr Abdullah Al Obaidli, Secretary General, UAE Sailing and Rowing Federation, said,“We thank these sailors for honouring us by coming to Abu Dhabi as their presence will help inspire and develop the sailing talent of our youth and ultimately assist us with creating a lasting sailing legacy in the country.’
Teams from 21 Nations: Bahrain, China, Chinese Taipei, Cook Islands, Hong Kong, Germany, Great Britain, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Singapore, S Korea, Thailand and UAE.
Rio 2016 Olympic Qualification
Find out more about qualification for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and details of nations already qualified at sailing.org/olympics/rio2016
by Ajay Kumar