Marseille, sailing venue for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, is ready to host 325 sailors from 40 nations for the 2019 Hempel World Cup Series Final.
Sailors will race across 10 Olympic disciplines and an open kiteboarding fleet, with competition due to get underway tomorrow and medal races scheduled for Saturday and Sunday (June 8 and 9).
Lilian de Geus of The Netherlands looks the one to beat in the women’s RS:X class.
The Dutch sailor won gold at the Sailing World Championships Aarhus 2018 and recently added the European title, but has yet to win World Cup Series, having missed out on gold by a single point at last year’s World Cup final.
Among her rivals will be France’s Rio 2016 Olympic champion, Charline Picon, along with Olympic medallists Bryony Shaw of Britain and Stefania Elfutina of Russia.
The 2018 edition of the men’s RS:X Final saw the French dominate on their home territory; Pierre Le Coq took the title, followed by Thomas Goyard and Louis Giard.
Although Goyard is not sailing in 2019, Le Coq and Giard will certainly be frontrunners for the title.
In the lead-up to Tokyo 2020, the French pair have fought each other hard for the single spot at the Olympic Games.
Italy’s Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti have kept the world number one position in Nacra 17 racing since August 2018.
But they are beatable, as was shown when they narrowly missed out on a medal at the recent European Championship in Weymouth, where home sailors Ben Saxton and Nicola Boniface claimed the title.
Though Saxton and Boniface will not be in Marseille, their compatriots and European silver medallists John Gimson and Anna Burnet will challenge hard.
France will be looking to four-time world champions Billy Besson and Marie Riou, while Argentina are represented by Rio 2016 gold medallists Santiago Lange and Cecilia Carranza Saroli.
Medal hopefuls in the women’s 470 fleet include home sailors Camille Lecointre and Aloise Retornaz, the European champions, and Rio 2016 gold medallist Hannah Mills sailing with Eilidh McIntyre for Britain, and current world number one pairing Ai Kondo Yoshida and Miho Yoshioka of Japan.
Since forming their men’s 470 partnership in December 2012, Australia’s Mat Belcher and Will Ryan have featured at the top for 46 world rankings releases.
But Sweden’s Anton Dahlberg and Fredrik Bergström, France’s Kevin Peponnet and Jeremie Mion, Spain’s Jordi Xammar and Nicolás Rodríguez and the five-team Japanese squad all have what it takes to beat the Australians.
The 24-strong open kiteboarding Fleet will feature for the first time during the 2019 World Cup Series, with several big names set to compete.
The 2018 world champions Nico Parlier of France and Daniela Moroz of the United States recently retained their titles at the 2019 Formula Kite World Championships, held on Lake Garda, Italy, and they will be be keen to impress on the Paris 2024 Olympic waters.
World champions Šime and Mihovil Fantela of Croatia will lead the charge in the 14-boat 49er fleet and Austria’s Tanja Frank and Lorena Abicht will be favourites in the nine-boat 49erFX pack.
A fleet of 10 boats will race in the laser with 11 to take to the startline in the laser radial.
In the Finn, Olympic medallists Jonathan Lobert of France and Max Salminen of Sweden will feaure in a 13-boat fleet.
Fleet racing in the 49er, 49erFX, Nacra 17 and RS:X fleets will run through to Friday before they sail their medal races on Saturday.
The 470s, Laser, Laser Radial and Finn will conclude fleet racing on Saturday and sail their medal races on the Sunday.
The Series started in Enoshima, Japan, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic venue, in September 2018 before moving to Miami, in the United States, in January 2019 and, in April, Genoa in Italy.