Amongst the star names lining up is man of the moment Paul Goodison (GBR), who will be looking to continue his run of unbroken regatta wins which has seen him take gold in Beijing, both the European and World Laser titles as well as victory at the last three World Cup events. Chief amongst Goodison's challengers will be fellow Brit Nick Thompson, who despite playing second fiddle to his team mate in recent months, still holds the lead in the World Cup Standings after making a stunning start to the season.
|Women's Match Race|
Other strong home challengers are Beijing Olympic gold medal winners Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson (GBR) who line up in a Star fleet packed full of Olympic and World Championship medallists. Another of the British Beijing gold medallists Pippa Wilson competes in the 470 fleet with new crew Saskia Clark. Britain's newest World Champion Nick Dempsey (GBR) misses out however, after straining a hamstring in Weymouth last week on his way to winning the RS:X World title.
Also eagerly anticipated is the Women's Match Racing event, which will make its debut Olympic appearance at London 2012. Weymouth hosts a fascinating line up of skippers which includes 2007 and 2008 World Champion Claire Leroy (FRA) competing at her first World Cup event, Beijing silver medallist in the Yngling Mandy Mulder (NED) and Olympic gold medallist in the one-person Laser Radial dinghy Anna Tunnicliffe (USA).
Other names to look out for across the fleets include recently crowned World Champion Sari Multala (FIN) in the Laser Radial, Finn Europeans winner Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) and Women's RS:X World and European silver medallist Blanca Manchon (ESP). The Australian team looks very strong, featuring 49er World Champions Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen (AUS) and 470 Olympic gold medallists Elise Rechichi and Tessa Parkinson in the women's fleet and Malcolm Page and his new helm Mathew Belcher in the men's.
World Cup Battle
In the battle for World Cup success, 20 points are up for grabs for the winner of each event, with 19 going to second place, down to 1 point for a finish of 20th. Scores for the World Cup are added up grand-prix style, with Weymouth the seventh and final scoring opportunity where the winners of the 2009 ISAF Sailing World Cup will be decided. The World Cup prizegiving will follow on from the Medal Races on Saturday, with ISAF President Göran Petersson in attendance to offer his congratulations to the inaugural ISAF Sailing World Cup winners.
Click here to view the current ISAF Sailing World Cup Standings.
The battle for the Star World Cup title promises to go right to the wire with Xavier Rohart and Pierre-Alexis Ponsot (FRA) currently top of the standings on 50 points, but another seven teams within seven points of them. In contrast, Americans Stuart McNay and Graham Biehl have a commanding 18-point lead in the Men's 470 Standings so any finish of 18th or better will secure them the title of 2009 ISAF Sailing World Cup winners. This is an honour already guaranteed to the Danish pair of Henriette Koch and Lene Sommer, who have an unbeatable 22-point advantage in the Women's 470 Standings. It's much closer in the 49er Standings with Paul Campbell-James and Mark Asquith (GBR) holding a 10-point advantage. However, added to the pressure of fighting off the chasing Spaniards Federico Alonso and Arturo Alonso, for this event, Campbell-James also has the challenge of teaming up with new crew member Nick Hutton.
Amongst the one-person events, Nick Thompson (GBR) has a 14-point lead in the Laser Standings, whilst Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) is 16 points ahead in the Laser Radial. However, as the US skipper is competing in the match racing event, she is vulnerable to attack from second-placed Tina Mihelic (CRO), who will grab the World Cup title if she can finish fourth or better. There are no such worries for Ed Wright (GBR) in the Finn, who is already assured as the World Cup title with an unassailable 24-point lead in the Standings. Great Britain also has another world Cup title wrapped up in the Women's Match Racing event, where Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Ally Martin (GBR) are 22 points clear of the chasing pack.
Blanca Manchon of Spain is similarly assured of World Cup glory in the Women's RS:X event thanks to her massive 34-point lead, but in the men's fleet it's much closer and Portugal Olympic veteran Joao Rodrigues will have to draw on all of his experience as he defends his two-point advantage.
In the Paralympic events, Britain's Megan Pascoe is five points clear in the 2.4mR. Scott Whitman and Julia Dorsett (USA) lead the SKUD18 and John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas (GBR) the Sonar both by a single point.
Racing in Weymouth begins today, with the series continuing through until the final Medal Races on Saturday 19 September, when Weymouth is opening its doors with free entry to the public.
ISAF Sailing World Cup
The ISAF Sailing World Cup 2008-2009 consists of the following events:
16-21 Dec 2008 - Sail Melbourne The Asia Pacific Regatta, Melbourne, Australia
25-31 Jan 2009 - US SAILING's Rolex Miami OCR, Miami, USA
4-10 April 2009 - Trofeo SAR Princess Sofia MAPFRE, Palma, Spain
18-24 April 2009 - Semaine Olympique Francaise, Hyeres, France
27-31 May 2009 - Delta Lloyd Regatta, Medemblik, Netherlands
20-28 June 2009 - Kieler Woche, Kiel, Germany
14-19 Sept 2009 - Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta, Weymouth, Great Britain
Find out more about the ISAF Sailing World Cup, including the World Cup Standings, more on the seven events, the scoring system and the Notice of Series at www.sailing.org/isafsailingworldcup.