Sailors across the six classes making a return to the Qingdao Olympic Sailing Center for ISAF Sailing World Cup Qingdao are prepared for the challenges the venue will throw at them from 14-19 October.
With south westerly and north easterly winds averaging out at 9 knots at Fushan Bay and 0.9 knots of current the 149 sailors from 23 nations will be tested at the venue of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition.
Twenty Men's 470 crews will take to the start line on Monday 14 October including London 2012 Olympic bronze medallists Lucas Calabrese and Juan de la Fuente (ARG).
Crew de la Fuente sailed at Beijing 2008 and like all the returning sailors from five years ago is looking forward to the Qingdao challenge, "Last time I sailed in Qingdao was the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Medal Race. I have good memories from Qingdao with its spectacular Marina and tricky (but interesting) sailing course with variable wind intensity and lots of current that made the Games very complex."
ISAF Sailing World Cup Qingdao will act as a vital regatta for the Argentineans as they continue to learn and build up to the Rio 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition, "For this year we expect the same conditions. We included ISAF Sailing World Cup Qingdao in our program because it is the most similar venue to Rio de Janeiro with light winds and current."
The Argentineans have had a steady 2013 finishing in the top six in five regattas which sits them at World #6.
World #3 Paul Snow Hansen and Dan Wilcox (NZL) are the highest ranked duo racing in Qingdao and will be amongst the front runners. As will Croatia's experienced pair Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic and South Africa's Asenathi Jim and Roger Hudson.
The highest ranked Chinese Men's 470 team is Hao Lan and Chao Wang. They recently finished 37th at the 470 World Championship but a 12th at ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyères earlier in the year shows that they have what it takes to be in and around the front of the fleet.
Making their first return to Qingdao since the Beijing 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition is Brazil's Ricardo Santos and Israel's Shahar Zubari in the Men's RS:X.
The Israeli took a memorable final day bronze medal at Beijing 2008 whilst the Brazilian came through in fifth. Both will be part of the 17-boat fleet at ISAF Sailing World Cup Qingdao.
"It's my first time back in Qingdao since the Olympic Games in 2008,"
said Zubari. "I'm really looking forward to going back and enjoying the great Chinese hospitality."
Santos added, "I have very good memories, the Olympic Games were great. China is very different from Brazil and that is one of the reasons why I'm coming back."
Santos and Zubari are the sole sailors from their country in the Men's RS:X fleet with three sailors from Hong Kong and 12 from host country China.
At World #2 and arguably favourite to take gold, Santos remains wary of the threat the strong Chinese contingent poses, "It's going to be a hard race, the Chinese are very strong, especially in light winds and it will be a different race without the Europeans.
"It will be very nice if I have a good result and be number one in the ISAF World Rankings."
With 24 registered entrants the Laser will be the biggest fleet in Qingdao.
Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) comes into Qingdao as the man in form and the one to watch having taken the European Championship title in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland in August.
The Croatian has consistently mixed it up at the top throughout 2013 and holds three regatta victories to his name.
Joining him in the fleet will be World #1 Tom Burton (AUS). The Australian has held the top spot in the world since December 2012 but with his last regatta coming in May the early stage of the competition may be about finding his feet back in the Laser.
Sailors returning to Qingdao having raced at Beijing 2008 include the experienced Gustavo Lima (POR), Pavlos Kontides (CYP) and Poland's Kacper Zieminski.
Zieminski heads to Qingdao after a strong fifth at the Laser Europeans and will be aiming for a top spot in Qingdao, "A podium finish is my goal for this competition, with any other place behind the podium then I will be disappointed.
"It will be my first race since the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. My memories? For sure they are good. I remember very good organisation of the event, great venue, light winds and of course fog.
"I am expecting different weather conditions because the race is in a different period of the years. I don't think much would have changed there because it was already very nice."
Six classes make a return to the Qingdao Olympic Sailing Center, Men's and Women's 470, Men's and Women's RS:X, Laser and Laser Radial with 180,000USD prize money spread across the fleets.
Racing across the six classes commences on Monday 14 October at 12:00 local time and along with the four other ISAF Sailing World Cup venues, Melbourne, Miami, Mallorca and Hyères, the regatta will adopt the following race format:
Two day Qualification Series, three day Final Series with concluding final day Medal Race
Number of races
Two races per day for Laser, Finn and 470
Three races per day for skiffs, boards and multihull
One Medal race (10 boats for all classes)
ISAF Sailing World Cup Website