Elite World Class Performers Ian Walker and Mark Covell, sailing United Airlines, gave themselves the perfect confidence boost for next weeks Star World Championships by finishing the hotly contested Star Italian National Championships and Open Week in Punta Ala, Italy, in second place overall this afternoon.

Walker, Great Britain’s 1996 Olympic Silver Medallist in the 470 class (from Kensington in London) and Covell, a former Etchells World Champion (from Emsworth in Hampshire) finished just two points adrift of Spanish 1992 Olympic Gold Medallist (in the Finn class) Jose Maria Van De Ploeg.

They won one race in the five race series, which took place over five days in a range of conditions. Their 4,9,19,1,5 scoreline in the star studied 75 boat fleet, which included 1996 Olympic Champion Torben Grael, who finished eighth overall, puts them in good form for a solid result at the World Championships, which start on Sunday. Previous to this, their best result was second (to Australian World Champion Colin Beashel) at the Danish Spring Championships in June.

“It’s the perfect confidence booster for next weeks world championships,” said Ian after racing. He added: “Everything now rests on getting a good result at the Worlds and qualifying the country for the Olympics”.

The top four non-qualified nations at the World Championship will each receive a place at next years Olympic Games in Sydney. Brazil, Germany, Sweden, Spain and Australia (as the host nation) have already qualified.

ITALY: Punta Ala; Italian National Championships (after 5 days)
1, Jose Maria Van De Ploeg and Florian Fendt (Esp) 8,2,3,4,22 – 17pts
2, Ian Walker and Mark Covell (GBR) 4,9,19,1,5 – 19pts
3, Eric Doyle and Brian Terharr (USA) 3,1,6,10,OCS- 20pts