The world's top windsurfers are at the 2012 Olympic sailing venue in Weymouth and Portland ready for tomorrow's opening races at the 2009 RS:X World Championships.
The RS:X board is the equipment choice for both Men's and Women's Windsurfer events at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games, and some 163 sailors from 39 nations have descended on the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy in their quest for world glory. An added incentive is to gain all-important experience of the venue which many of them will hope to revisit for the Olympic Sailing Competition in three years' time.
Chasing gold for the host nation will be Skandia Team GBR's Bryony Shaw
- the first British woman to win an Olympic windsurfing medal in Beijing last year - and Athens 2004 bronze medallist Nick Dempsey
, who is intent on putting down a marker in his home town.
"It's the most important event, apart from the Olympic Games, of my life," said the 29 year old Dempsey.
"To win an Olympic medal is great, to win an Olympic gold would be amazing, but to win a World Championship, and on my home waters at the site of the next Olympic Games would be almost as amazing.
"Everything since Beijing has been geared towards this. Since the disappointment at the Games I've been looking at this event and trying to do everything I can to win here.
"I know I'm sailing really, really, really well. I know I've trained really hard and I've done everything right - sometimes you just need a little bit of luck, so we'll just wait and see."
Dempsey's main rivals for the world title in the 105-boat men's fleet include France's Olympic silver medallist Julien Bontemps of France and Israel's bronze medallist Shahar Zubari
, as well as Dutch all-rounder Dorian Van Rijsselberge
, currently second in the ISAF Sailing World Cup Standings
, and Poland's Piotr Myszka
In the 58-strong women's fleet, the Spanish duo of Marina Alabau
and Blanca Manchon
look certain to be in the hunt, along with Italy's Laura Linares
and Flavia Tartaglini
Among the young pretenders looking to make their mark in the senior ranks at this event are Great Britain's own RS:X Youth World Champion Izzy Hamilton
, a member of the RYA Volvo National Youth Squad, RS:X Youth World boys champion Michalis Malekkides
of Cyprus, and Hong Kong's Hei Man Chan
, who won the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship
crown in Brazil in July.
Racing at the 2009 RS:X World Windsurfing Championships gets underway on Friday 4 September and concludes on Thursday 10 September with Monday 7 September scheduled as a reserve day.
The RS:X World Windsurfing Championships is the second of three back-to-back World Class events being run by the RYA, supported by UK Sport, and hosted at WPNSA. The IWA Junior, Youth and Masters Windsurfing Worlds was held from 22-29 August, with the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta - the final round of the 2009 ISAF Sailing World Cup
series - set to welcome the cream of the World's Olympic Classes sailors from 14-19 September.
Click here for our RS:X World Championships page containing all the news, photos, links to live results and more from this year's RS:X Worlds.