Sailing World Cup Weymouth and Portland will allow Olympic hopefuls the final opportunity to shine before they head to Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympic Games.
The Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, London 2012’s sailing venue, will welcome 380 Olympic sailors from 44 nations from 6-12 June. The Sailing World Cup will be the last chance for sailors to lay down a marker and get one up on their rivals before the summer showcase.
China’s Lijia Xu makes a return to the waters where she she won gold in the Laser Radial at London 2012 and she will be joined by her fellow podium finishers Marit Bouwmeester (NED) and Evi Van Acker (BEL).
Earlier on this week, Xu sat down with World Sailing TV and explained that the Medal Race, where she became Queen, was her finest race ever. Sailing the race over and over again in her mind, as well as imagining herself as an A-List celebrity with the eyes of the world on her, ensured Xu went into the race focused on herself. It was far from her perfect race as she received penalty turns but she maintained her cool and crossed the line first, sealing it as her greatest race.
WATCH – Lijia Xu reflects on her Best Olympic Race – https://www.facebook.com/ISAFWorldSailing/videos/10154368715440757/
Heading into the London 2012 Medal Race, Xu, Bouwmeester, Van Acker and Annalise Murphy (IRL) were all in with a shout of gold. However, it was despair for Murphy as she finished behind her rivals, missing out on a medal.
All four sailors will be back racing in Weymouth and Portland for the Sailing World Cup and if they come anywhere close to repeating their performances from nearly four years ago, expect fireworks.
Since that famous day in Weymouth, a number of Laser Radial sailors have propelled themselves up into contention for Rio 2016 glory.
Great Britain’s Alison Young is fresh from winning her first world championship title in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Denmark’s Anne Marie Rindom picked up the world and Olympic test event double in 2015 and Josefin Olsson (SWE) continues to win medals.
All can be considered Rio 2016 favourites and Sailing World Cup Weymouth and Portland will offer the final insight before the Olympic Games.
Nick Thompson (GBR) will spearhead the 39-boat Laser fleet in Weymouth and Portland having won back to back World Championships titles in 2015 and 2016.
Thompson is yet to win a Sailing World Cup event in the Rio 2016 quadrennial so will be looking to sign off before the Olympic Games with a big win on his home waters.
Joining him in the fleet will be World #1 Matt Wearn (AUS), World #4 Tom Burton (AUS), 2015 Olympic Test Event victor Francesco Marrai (ITA) and Sam Meech, recently selected to compete for New Zealand at Rio 2016.
A small, competitive fleet will race the Finn in Weymouth and Portland. The indomitable Giles Scott (GBR) will be in amongst the pack and such is his form, he will be a firm favourite.
Scott has won 15 of his 17 regattas in the Rio 2016 quadrennial, winning three world championship titles along the way. The two he didn’t win, he finished second and was unfortunate at both events not to win.
Joining Scott in Weymouth and Portland will be London 2012 bronze medallist Jonathan Lobert (FRA). The towering Frenchman finished behind Scott at the 2015 Finn Gold Cup and will be looking to overhaul him on the waters where he has tasted great success.
London 2012 Olympic Star gold medallist Max Salminen (SWE) will join the pair as will Jake Lilley (AUS) and Josh Junior (NZL) who were announced as part of their Olympic teams in May.
The world’s top two Men’s 470 crews will face off in Weymouth and Portland, continuing their long-running jostle for supremacy.
World #1 Mat Belcher and Will Ryan claimed the world championship titles in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Their quest for a clean quadrennial sweep but scuppered by World #2 Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic (CRO) who sealed a convincing win at the 2016 worlds in Buenos Aires, Argentina,
The Croatians got the better of the Australians at Sailing World Cup Hyères in April so come in strong. Stu McNay and Dave Hughes (USA) took the 2015 Weymouth and Portland crown and make a return. Further contenders include Luke Patience and Chris Grube (GBR) as well as Anton Dahlberg and Fredrik Bergstrom (SWE).
In the Women’s 470, the world’s top two teams, Lara Vadlau and Jolanta Ogar (AUT) and Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark (GBR) will be within the 19-boat fleet. They will be joined by 2016 World Champions Camille Lecointre and Helene Defrance (FRA).
Racing kicks off on Wednesday 8 June and will conclude on Sunday 12 June with the Medal Races which will be broadcast live on the World Sailing TV YouTube Channel – http://www.youtube.com/worldsailingtv