Not only will the new World Champions be decided, but six nations, previously unqualified for the Olympic Games, will receive entries to Athens 2004 and join the five already qualified nations of Bermuda, Denmark, Spain, Germany, USA, and Greece as host nations.
And the weather today? Well the slight cloud cover that moved over the bay of Cadiz last night has moved, leaving a clear, windy day, again. The Levante has now been with us for over a week now and it is providing beautiful, if a little variable in direction, moderate conditions.
Action from the 49er © Annemiek Van KinderenThe 49er fleet, after a demolition derby on day one of their qualifiers, seemed to settle down a little yesterday, sort of, and although in reality all that matters in the first stage is to qualify as high as possible, the results at the moment show a very interesting development. The top three in the fleet, Chris DRAPER and Simon HISCOCKS (GBR), Cristoffer SUNDBY and Frode BOVIM (NOR), and Marcus BAUR and Max GROY (GER), have all trained together as a unit here in Cadiz in 2003.
Chris said at the post race press conference that "all three of us working together has been great. It's good fun training with friends and each one of us brings our own assets to the training program, we are all pushing each other forward."
It's a program that certainly seems to be working for the trio of boats at the moment, one wonders how that relationship will develop as the regatta progresses into the last day of qualification today, and through to the finals, as each pair has a shot at the World Championship title.
As Andy Rice, the 49er class reporter said yesterday, each has their own motivation for getting the best possible result here. Chris and Simon will want to better their result in Hawaii last year, as well as trying to ensure their own Olympic selection. Christoffer and Frode will want to emulate the success of Christoffer's sister Siren, who became Europe World Champion on Thursday, and Marcus and Max will want to make it a Grand Slam, having already won the continental championship in Europe earlier this year.
Whatever happens in the 49ers from here on in, their international training program in the build up to Athens 2004 clearly has it's merits, and it is clear from other classes that this pays off. Definitely a way for some of the smaller nations to develop.
All the classes, except for the Finn, who are on their rest day, are sailing today. It's the penultimate day for the Stars and the Mistral men and Women, and the final day of qualification for the 49er, Laser, and 470 fleets.
In the 470 fleet, second place Matt and Dan BELCHER (AUS) have added impetus to perform today, it's Matt's 21st Birthday and I'm sure everyone in the fleet will join ISAF in wishing him many happy returns.