Top sailors aiming to navigate towards Rio

Jess Lavery and Megan Brickwood are teaming up in the 470 class. Picture: Mauro Melandri/Zerogradinord
Jess Lavery and Megan Brickwood are teaming up in the 470 class. Picture: Mauro Melandri/Zerogradinord
Sir Francis Chichester on Gipsy Moth IV.

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Aspiring British Olympic sailors are out in force this week at the most important regatta on the long road to Rio 2016.

The ISAF Sailing World Championships in Santander, northern Spain, will see some 1,500 elite sailors come together to compete across all 10 of the Olympic classes, hoping to put down personal markers for selection, as well as booking their nation’s spot in Brazil.

No fewer than 88 members of the British Sailing Team are taking part.

Nick Dempsey is out to defend his RS:X windsurfing world crown, while Giles Scott (Finn, 2011), Ed Wright (Finn, 2010) and Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark (470 Women, 2012) are all recent world champions looking to build on their success.

‘The 2014 World Championships is the biggest event of this Olympic cycle,’ said RYA Olympic manager Stephen Park.

‘It’s a huge multi-class world championships, with all 10 Olympic events having their championships all in the one venue, and it’s also an opportunity to qualify for 50 per cent of the slots in each of the Olympic classes for the Olympic Games itself.’

The competition is going to be hot in all events.

France’s Billy Besson and Marie Riou took the inaugural Nacra 17 world title in 2013 – just ahead of Hampshire duo Ben Saxton and Hannah Diamond, who will be aiming to go one better this time around.

Saxton said: ‘One thing for sure is that there will probably be a load of boats. It will probably be the best racing we have done yet and there will probably be a mix of conditions.’

Also competing are Hayling Island’s Frances Peters in the 49erFX class, Lee-on-the-Solent’s Alain Sign and Portsmouth’s John Pink in the 49er fleet, and Chichester’s Christina Bassadone and Hayling’s Eilidh McIntyre in the 470 women.

Portsmouth-born Jess Lavery and Hamble’s Megan Brickwood team up in the 470s, and Emsworth Finn sailor Peter McCoy will also be in action.