Malta 49er: Borg and Ripard achieve Gold Fleet status prior to Olympic qualifiers in May

Friday, April 27, 2012, 22:43

After a winter spent sparring and training in Palma, Majorca with some of the best 49er Class teams in the world, Seb Ripard and Benji Borg achieved Gold Fleet (top 25) status at the Semaine Olympique Francais Regatta in Hyeres, France this week. The Hyeres event was the final race prior to the ISAF World Championships in Zadar, Croatia next month, which will determine the additional 5 countries that will be competing in the 49er class at the 2012 Olympic Games.

Amidst blustery conditions in Hyeres, the Maltese Olympic hopefuls competed well and finished in 25th place out of a field of 56, even finishing in 2nd place in one race.  Talking about the week’s racing, Seb Ripard said, “It was great to compete with the top guys in the toughest 49er sailing conditions, strong winds and steep waves. Coming 2nd in that race and making Gold Fleet was a massive mile stone, the dream that got me out of bed and into a cold wet wetsuit all those freezing winter mornings. On the way down to the finish I even got a little shaky! It is a massive relief to know ourselves that we have what it takes, now we need to deliver that on the day!”

Ex-Olympian and Malta49er coach, Max Groy, was asked about their hopes of qualifying, “The guys proved that they can compete with the best. After a winter of some good training and some major physical setbacks, the boys seem to be peaking at the right time. Gold fleet in Hyeres just proves that they can do it. I know they have what it takes to qualify, the competition is tough but if they can keep their heads together they will make it to the Games.”

The younger of the Malta49er pair, Benji Borg, suffered a knee injury in 2011 which prevented them competing in Perth, Australia at the ISAF Worlds which was the first Olympic Qualifier event. Croatia will see 5 additional countries qualify for The Games and the boys from Malta are hunting a place and are determined to get there. Ripard: “The teams that we’re going to have a really close fight with in Croatia to win a place in London are Italy, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Belgium and Russia….any of these countries are in with a chance of qualifying. Italy, Brazil, Canada and Japan are much more experienced than us but we can definitely beat them. Bermuda, Belgium and Russia all started sailing the 49er at the same time as us so we really want to finish ahead of them!

Borg added, “I think racing this week has been great; we had good boat speed and good handling skills. The way things are, we’re both confident for the Worlds in Zadar, however the competition is hard and we know that it’s going to be a difficult race, but were going to give it all we have, and I think we can do it”.

The Malta 49er Olympic Campaign has been facilitated by EC English Language Centres; Cisk Excel, Malta’s first Low-Carbohydrate Lager; The Creative Partners; Kurt Arrigo; Bodyworks; Malta Sailing Federation. Malta International Airport plc supports the training programme.

About Malta49er.

Malta49er are Sebastian Ripard and Benji Borg; two young Maltese sailors with the dream of competing at the Olympics in 2012, and subsequently winning a medal in 2016. Both have been sailing from an early age; starting in the Optimist class.

The 49er is a skiff dinghy and is the fastest sailing class at The Olympic Games.

Malta 49er are attempting to be the first ever Maltese sailors to qualify for the Olympic Games.

For more information about Malta49er, please visit


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