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Japanese opening for the 2017-18 World Cup Series

by World Sailing 13 Oct 2017 08:19 BST 15-22 October 2017
2017-18 World Cup Series © Pedro Martinez / Sailing Energy / World Sailing

Gamagori, Japan will play host to the opening event of Sailing's 2017-18 World Cup Series with more than 290 world class sailors from 40 nations ready to race across eight classes from 15-22 October.

Olympic medallists, World and Continental Champions and leading World Cup contenders will head to the Japanese town to compete with racing scheduled to commence at 11:00 local time on Tuesday 17 October.

Sailing in the Men's and Women's One Person Dinghy (Laser/Radial), Men's and Women's Two Person Dinghy (470), Men's and Women's Skiff (49er/49erFX) and Men's and Women's Windsurfing (RS:X) the competition will be intense with sailors eager to test themselves against their rivals on the World Cup circuit.

The week will culminate with Medal Races on Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 October with both days to be streamed live across the World Sailing Network (YouTube, Facebook, Periscope).

Japanese hopes for medals on their home waters will be put on their seven teams lining up in the 26-boat Men's 470 fleet.

The Japanese 470 teams have been working together as a unit to make gains and improvements with the goal of achieving a medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Reasonable success has come with team members regularly making the top ten at World Cup Series events.

Tetsuya Isozaki and Akira Takayanagi claimed silver at World Cup Miami at the turn of 2017 and will be hoping to lead the charge for their nation and put in a similar performance on their home waters. Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS), four-time World Champions as a team and Rio 2016 silver medallist, will be the favourites in the Men's 470 fleet.

Three-time Olympian Ai Kondo sailing with Miho Yoshioka, Rio 2016 Olympian, will spearhead the five-boat Japanese team in the Women's 470. In the 22-boat fleet they'll be joined by World #1 team Afrodite Zegers and Anneloes van Veen (NED) as well as Olympians Tina Mrak and Veronica Macarol (SLO) and Linda Fahrni and Maja Siegenthaler (SUI).

The Laser fleet will see 55 high calibre entrants on the startline.

Rio 2016 Olympic gold medallist Tom Burton (AUS), 2017 Laser World Champion Pavlos Kontides (CYP) and 2017 European Champion Nick Thompson (GBR) will all enter as favourites but there's a whole host of competitors who can take the title.

Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) and Sam Meech (NZL), Rio 2016 silver and bronze medallists, and World #1 Philipp Buhl all have what it takes to take the title whilst Matt Wearn (AUS), Francesco Marrai (ITA) have consistently been at the front of the fleet for several year's.

In the Laser Radial, Marit Bouwmeester (NED) will be the one to beat.

The Dutch racer, nominated for 2017 Rolex World Sailor of the Year, added the 2017 World and European title to her collection following her gold medal success at Rio 2016 and is looking unstoppable.

Bouwmeester will form part of a 42-boat fleet that features Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Anne Marie Rindom (DEN), 2016 Youth World Champion Dolores Moreira Fraschini (URU) and 2017 World Cup Miami gold medallist Vasileia Karachaliou (GRE).

The Men's and Women's RS:X fleets are no strangers to racing in Japan having recently concluded their World Championships in Enoshima, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic venue.

Chinese racers dominated in Enoshima and took five of the six medals available.

There was a clean sweep in the Women's fleet with Peina Chen (CHN) taking the World Championship title with Jiahui Wu (CHN) claiming silver and Yunxiu Lu (CHN) bronze. All three will be in Gamagori, amongst a 23-boat fleet, and are expected to renew their national competitive rivalry.

Men's World Champion Bing Ye (CHN) and bronze medallist Mengfan Gao (CHN) will race in Gamagori and will also be joined by silver medallist Mateo Sanz Lanz (SUI). The 22-boat fleet also includes Kiran Badloe (NED) who was crowned 2017 World Cup Series Champion earlier this year in Santander, Spain.

Dylan Fletcher and Stu Bithell (GBR) will be unrivalled favourites in the 22-boat 49er fleet. The British racers have not finished off the podium in 2017 and hold the World and European titles. Sime Fantela, Rio 2016 gold medallist in the 470, and brother Mihovil Fantela will join them in the fleet as they continue their learning curve in the 49er.

Further contenders include Argentinean brothers Yago and Klaus Lange, Austria's Benjamin Bildstein and David Hussl as well as Swiss Olympians Sebastien Schneiter and Lucien Cujean.

The 49erFX will see eight boats on the startline and includes Rio 2016 bronze medallist Tanja Frank of Austria sailing with Lorena Abicht.

Racing at the 2017 World Cup Series Gamagori will commence on Tuesday 6 June at 11:00 local time.

Live Medal Races on Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 October will bring the week to a close before the series heads to Miami, USA.