Final preparations have been completed, all the skippers and crews are in Russia for the start of racing tomorrow at the ISAF Match Racing World Championship on the Verkh-Neyvinsky Pond in Ekaterinberg.
12 of the worlds best match racing teams have made the journey, and over the course of the next seven days it will be decided who, if anyone, will be the new World Champion.
(USA), sailing legend and current holder of the title has returned to defend his crown, but will be facing eleven other immaculately prepared, well sailed and superbly managed teams, who all have a chance to knock the Former Laser World Champion, America's Cup sailor and yachting commentator off his perch.
Those rivals include the likes of Karol JABLONSKI
(POL), current leader of the ISAF World Match Race Rankings, and the 2002 World Champion. Jablonski is a sailor who does not like to see the loss of his crown and will fight hard to see it returned to the European Cuntry this year.
Including Jablonski, seven of the world's top ten ranked skippers have made the trip to Russia, and as well as the obvious fight for the championship, every point conts towards their future in the rankings. Eight nations are represented, including three crews from the home nation, Russia. There are two from France and Sweden, and one each from Great Britain, USA, Poland, Finland and Italy.
Each skipper was invited to the event based upon his position in the ISAF World Mach Race Rankings as of 28 April 2004 so positions as of the start of the event have moved. On top of this selection, one qualified position was given to the host nation, and the defending champion gained an automatic entry.
The event is to be sailed in Richochet 747 sportsboats, which are provided by the organising authority. Umpiring is provided on the water in each match by a talented team of International Umpires, important as racing will be tough, tactical, and sometimes agressive.
Following the allocation of boats yesterday and practice today, along with measurement and weighing of crews, the start of the first, double round robin will go ahead tomorrow, during which each skipper will sail each other skipper twice. Following this round robin will be a semi final and final, after which, on 24 July, the 2004 World Champion will be decided. The World Champion, along with the title, will take home 12,000 Euros out of a total prize fund of 50,000 Euros.
Every day of racing, ISAF will bring you news results and pictures from Russia. For a full biography of each skipper, please click on their name below.