Olympic test for Weymouth 2012

Windsurfing just one of the events at Sail for Gold in Weymouth Credit: RYA

GBR's sailing is preparing this week for an Olympic 2012 sailing ‘dress rehearsal’

Weymouth is the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic sailing venue and later this week it will get a final chance to prepare for the big event as 700 of the world’s top sailors race at the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta from 4th to 9th of June.

The event is the penultimate leg of the ISAF Sailing World Cup series. Sixty-five Skandia Team GBR sailors competing across the 10 Olympic and three Paralympic classes are taking part. The event is a must for all those with medal-winning aspirations in Weymouth and Portland this summer, but they are likely to face tough competition on home waters from those who also want to win gold.

Skandia Team GBR’s World Champions Ben Ainslie, Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark, and Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell are the ones to watch in the Finn, 470 and Paralympic SKUD events respectively.

Windsurfer Nick Dempsey and the Paralympic Sonar trio of John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas will be keen to defend the titles they won at the 2011 edition of the event.

Bryony Shaw, Paul Goodison, the 49er and 470 men’s teams of Stevie Morrison-Ben Rhodes and Luke Patience-Stuart Bithell and the Women’s Match Racing trio of Lucy Macgregor-Annie Lush-Kate Macgregor all have proven track records in the Olympic venue, having won medals at previous editions of their home World Cup event last August.

For leading British windsurfer Shaw, 29, who won bronze in Beijing and at the 2011 edition of the event, the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta is just the second regatta she’ll have competed at this year, in addition to her fourth place at the RS:X World Championships, and she’s eager to get racing again.

“It’s exciting – normally I would do more regattas as I have in previously years so I‘m almost like a jack in the box – a coiled spring – ready to get out there and perform again and really get everything fired up as a bit of a dress rehearsal for the Games,” she enthused.

“With the smaller fleets it will be much more like it is at the Games and those who are really putting in that final push for this summer. It will be good to see who’s in shape and who you think you might be able to really look at and get the jump on.

Racing at the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta kicks off on Monday 4 June with Paralympic classes (2.4mR, SKUD and Sonar) finishing on Friday 8 June and medal races for the 10 Olympic Classes scheduled for Saturday 9 June.