In the men's fleet, there are the young hot shots hoping to take the scalps of the established performers. To name a few, here is Luksza GRODZICKI (POL), double Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Champion who just won the Polish National Championship; Shahar ZUBARI (ISR) who did well in the Olympic Class Regattas in Palma and Hyères; and Fabian HEIDEGGER (ITA) who finished in the top five in the recent ISAF Grade 1 Breitling Regatta in the Netherlands.
Look out for French stars Nicolas HUGUET (FRA) and Nicholas LE GAL (FRA) who both finished top five in the 2006 RS:X European Championships in Cesme, Turkey. Then there is Andreas CARIOLOU (CYP) who will be out to prove something in his own backyard.
Then there are the guys who have proven that they can live through the high pressure of winning Olympic medals. Gal FRIDMAN (ISR), Olympic gold medallist in Athens 2004, Nikos KAKLAMANAKIS (GRE), Olympic silver medallist in Athens and gold medallist in 1996.
In the ever growing women's fleet, the competition will be no less intense. Blanca MANCHON (ESP) will defend her title, whilst Barbara KENDALL (NZL), who has won a complete set of Olympic medals has shown great speed and ability in the local consistent sea breezes. The current World Champion Alessandra SENSINI (ITA), who also has won a few Olympic medals in her time, is not going to be easy to beat either. Neither is Faustine MERRET (FRA), who stepped onto the top step of the podium to take gold in Athens.
These women will be pushed all the way by Marina ALABAU (ESP), silver medallist at the 2006 Worlds, Byrony SHAW (GBR), second at the 2006 Europeans, Romy KINZL (GER), Zofia KLEPACKA (POL) and Antonia FREY (GRE) to mention just a few.
So the stage is set for seven days of blistering competition with many nations taking a hard look at their athletes with a view to each selecting the one man and one woman who will go to China in 2008. The hard training is done. The forecast is looking good. The racing will be fast, furious and above all close. The stakes are high and likely to get higher!
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