The 53rd Trofeo Princesa Sofía is starting this Monday. TROFEO PRINCESA SOFIA

After almost two weeks of strong winds and unruly seas which have prevailed for the hundreds of teams and Olympic class sailors who have been training in Mallorca's Bay of Palma, the competitors in the 53rd Trofeo Princesa Sofía Mallorca by Iberostar can expect a breezy and sunny opening day on Monday.

The 53rd Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofía Mallorca by Iberostar is jointly organised by the Club Nàutic S'Arenal, the Club Marítimo San Antonio de la Playa, the Real Club Náutico de Palma, the Real Federación Española de Vela and the Federació Balear de Vela, with the support of World Sailing and the main public institutions of the Balearic Islands. 

The big showcase event, which opens the 2024 Sailing World Cup, will be an indicator of medal potential as it is the first event of the year to feature all 10 Olympic events ahead of this summer's Olympic regatta. 

Nearly 850 boats sailed by 1,100 athletes from 76 different nations will take to the waters of Palma Bay to compete between Monday and Saturday. For many countries, this traditional curtain-raiser to the European Olympic Class season is also an Olympic selection event. 

Singapore's Max Maeder, who won last year's Trofeo Princesa Sofia as a 16-year-old and is the most likely candidate to win the first Olympic gold medal in the men's category when the high speed Formula Kite makes its Olympic debut . In the absence of most of the top French riders, who will be his closest rivals this summer, the Asian is the clear favourite.

In the Mixed 470, the host nation's favourites, the recently crowned world champions Jordi Xammar and Nora Brugman, will be racing again on the same waters of the Bay of Palma where they won the universal title a month ago in very breezy conditions. 

The last preparations for the big regatta in the Bay of Palma de Mallorca. TROFEO PRINCESA SOFIA
The last preparations for the big regatta in the Bay of Palma de Mallorca. TROFEO PRINCESA SOFIA

The pressure of Olympic selection has been eased for the likes of Britain's Vita Heathcote and Chris Grube as World Championships runners-up and France's double Olympic bronze medallist Camille Lecointre and crew Jérémie Mion. 

However, the stress will continue for those still chasing the golden ticket, such as Japan's top crews, 2023 world champions Keiju Okada and Miho Yoshioka and Tetsuya Isozaki and Yuri Seki - who were leading the way in the early stages of the World Championships - and more especially the German 470 fleet, which shows incredible strength and depth with 14 duos in Palma. 

After the World Championships, this regatta is the second of three German selection events before the decisive European Championships in Cannes. Theirs is a very empirical, first-past-the-post system and with their fourth place at the World Championships, Simon Diesch and Anna Markfort are well ahead. 

All three top German duos could be considered Olympic medal contenders, Luise Wanser and Philip Autenreith were World Champions in 2022 and Malte and Anastaysia Winkel took silver at last year's test event in Marseille. 

In the boat parks of Palma, the French crews present were all smiles after the selection for their home Olympics was confirmed on Friday. Their announced Formula Kite representatives Lauriane Nolot and Axel Mazella, are among France's best medal prospects, are not in Palma, but les plus grosses bananes (colloquial French for the biggest smiles) belong to France's first ever, newly crowned 49er World Champions Erwan Fischer and Clément Pequin, who won the title in Palma in 2022. 

"There is no pressure for us here other than to perform. It is great here to have the respect of the other sailors as world champions and to feel that we are on the right course. I think we have a special energy, a hunger because we have missed so much with our injuries, so it we feel good here. We are pretty big guys, but I think we are also confident in the light breeze," said Pequin. 

Their 49er FX counterparts Sarah Steyaert and Charline Steyaert have been selected but will not be in Palma, nor will the Netherlands' 2024 world champions Odile van Aanholt and Annette Deutz, leaving Brazil's double Olympic champions Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze as the favourites to successfully defend their title. However, Sweden's runners-up Vilma Bobeck and Rebecca Netzler and Italy's Jana Germani and Giorgia Bertuzzi overshadowed the Tokyo gold medallists at the worlds.

From a full strength fleet, Great Britain's Micky Beckett will be looking to win the Trofeo Princesa Sofia ILCA 6 title for the third year in a row. Olympic and world champion Matt Wearn is the most likely to stand in his way in a regatta where the Australian has made a strong start in the last two editions. 

"In a way I'm under a lot less pressure than this time last year because this event was part of our selection trials which was stressful, so I'm just trying to enjoy this week. Monday looks like it will be a pretty big day and then it will die down," said the Briton. 

"The fleet has really got to the point where everyone has been forced to be good in the conditions they don't like, myself included, so I'm happy in the medium breeze. This is such an iconic event that has been around for twice as long as I have been alive, everyone is watching it closely because it is the first big event of the season, so I really want to win," Beckett added. 

GBR's Micky Beckett is gunning for a third ILCA 6 title. TROFEO PRINCESA SOFIA
GBR's Micky Beckett is gunning for a third ILCA 6 title. TROFEO PRINCESA SOFIA

Denmark's Tokyo gold medallist Anne Marie Rindom, who won her fourth ILCA 6 world title title in Argentina in January, will be among the favourites despite not having won the Sofia title since 2019. Last year's winner Marit Bouwmeester only earned the right to compete for her fifth Olympic medal when she beat Dutch Maxime Jonker in the last race in Argentina. 

Last year's runner-up Zoe Thomson leads a strong contingent of Australian women, while Hungary's Mária Érdi is fresh from winning the European title in Athens in light winds. 

Britain's John Gimson and Anna Burnet have not finished on the podium in a major regatta since winning the Sofia Nacra title last year in Palma, with the 2020 Olympic silver medallists claiming the European title. Their training partners, Olympic champions Rugero Titaand Caterina Banti, are confirmed for Paris 2024 and should provide an exciting foretaste of who could win gold this summer. 

Sam Sills and Emma Wilson added to Great Britain's medal haul last year, both winning the iQFOiL classes, and both will be among the top contenders when the giant regatta concludes on Saturday.