470 Champion going for Yngling Gold

Sofia Bekatorou, Sofia Papadopoulou and Christina Charamountani, GRE
Dan Nerney ©

The Greek Olympic gold-medallist, Sofia Bekatorou has spent the past month sailing out of Coconut Grove, FL, training on Biscayne Bay (Miami). Bekatorou is a four-time 470-class World Champion (2000, 2001, 2002, 2003), and a gold medallist in the 470 at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. Bekatorou and her crews' aim is to clinch one of the four remaining spots and to continue training and preparing for China.

Bekatorou is competing in the upcoming 2008 Yngling Women's World Championship from 8 - 16 February, and is taking advantage of training on-site in the local conditions.

These World Championships will include some of the world's best women sailors with 27 teams from 18 countries and four Olympic gold medallists entered so far. Although ten countries plus China have already qualified for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games (the Sailing Competition will be held in Qingdao), there are still four places to be decided and the competition among the eight remaining countries represented will be fierce. Bekatorou and her crews' aim is to clinch one of the four remaining spots and to continue training and preparing for China.

As part of their preparations in Miami, Bekatorou competed in last month's Rolex Miami OCR, so that the team could race against a serious fleet that will also be competing at the Worlds - and which will take place on the same race course on Biscayne Bay, considered one of the world's best sailing venues.

In the end at the Rolex Miami OCR, Sofia Bekatorou, Sofia Papadopoulou, and Christina Charamountani finished in 17th place overall. Bekatorou doesn't let herself lose focus on the ultimate goal. She said, 'Of course we did sail our best in the Rolex Miami OCR, but we had to concentrate on testing the boat trim and crew positions in these new sea conditions for us. We did try different masts and sails during the training. The idea was to come as close to perfection as we could, to be in our best psychological shape, and gain confidence in the boat for the (Yngling) Worlds.'

Bekatorou continued, 'We showed a very impressive ascending curve over the week. During the five days, we had two to three races a day and we went from an average of 15th - 20th position in the first days, to finish in the top ten in the last three races. Even not making it to the medal race, only two not-yet qualified countries finished ahead of us.' If she and her crew can repeat at least that kind of performance, it would guarantee Greece representation in the Yngling class in the Beijing Olympic Games..

Bekatorou, a Rolex Testimonee since 2006, is a four-time 470-class World Champion (2000, 2001, 2002, 2003), and a gold medallist in the 470 at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. With these past successes, she was also the winner of the prestigious ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards in 2002 and 2004 (with Emilia Tsoulfa).

After over eight years dedicating her career to 470 class competition at the highest levels, and with a much-needed break for back surgery due to the rigors of the 470 dinghy, Sofia moved to the Yngling class in which she has been campaigning since 2006. As time permits, in between her campaign duties, Sofia has been sailing in offshore and big boat regattas in the Farr 40 and TP52 classes. In addition, she is dedicated to promoting sailing among youngsters in Greece and organizing match racing, such as The Dream Race, in Mykonos, Greece in 2005.

For additional information about Sofia Bekatorou and her background, go to www.bekatorou.com