The waters of Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour will be filled with the stars of sailing over the next couple of weeks as the team's training camps at the 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition venue turn serious as the sixth ISAF Sailing World Cup Regatta, Skandia Sail for Gold gets going.
The 523 entries from 59 nations will feature 723 athletes and while numbers might be down on last year - when many nations used the event to select their Olympic teams - there's no doubt that the cream of world sailing will be racing at Skandia Sail for Gold.
The Men's and Women's 470 classes will be packed with both medallists and previous winners. The French duo of Pierre Leboucher and Vincent Garos won the event in both 2010 and 2011, but they will be up against the otherwise all-conquering Aussie duo of Mat Belcher and Malcolm Page, who have won the last three 470 World Championships. Page also won gold in Qingdao with Nathan Wilmot, with whom he previously won another three World Championships.
At the most recent 470 Worlds in Barcelona, Spain, Belcher and Page won from Leboucher and Garos with a day to spare - everyone will be watching this contest for an important psychological victory in the battle for Olympic gold.
In the Women's 470 fleet we an equally intense competition is expected, with recently crowned 470 World Champions, Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark (GBR) looking to go one better than their silver at the 2011 Skandia Sail for Gold. They will once again have to beat the second-placed girls at the latest world championships - the Netherlands' Lisa Westerhof and Lobke Berkhout, multiple world title winners. But expect to see plenty of other names at the front of the fleet over the six days of competition; this is one of the toughest classes for consistency.
The 49er stands out as the only class with none of the Qingdao medallists competing at Skandia Sail for Gold. Most conspicuous is probably the absence of the 2004 gold and 2008 silver medallists, Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez - both are currently competing in the Volvo Ocean Race, and defending an overall lead. The class will not be short of talent though, with the dominant Aussie pairing of Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen being the team to watch - Skandia Sail for Gold champions in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
In the Women's RS:X, both the Qingdao silver medallist, Alessandra Sensini of Italy, and bronze medallist, local girl Bryony Shaw will be back. Sensini is the only woman to have won four Olympic medals - bronze in 1996, gold in 2000, bronze in 2004 and silver in 2008. It's an extraordinary record in such a physical sport.
Also racing will be the 2011 Skandia Sail for Gold winner, Marina Alabau (ESP). In the Men's RS:X, Qingdao silver medallist, Julien Bontemps of France will be in Weymouth to resume his rivalry with Nick Dempsey - Britain's Skandia Sail for Gold champion in 2011, 2007 and 2006. Bontemps just took the 2012 RS:X world title from Dempsey (also a former World Champion) by a couple of points.
In the Paralympic classes many of the 2008 medallists will also be in Weymouth for their final opportunity for top flight competition ahead of the Games. In the SKUD, the 2008 silver medallist Daniel Fitzgibbon will be sailing with new crew Liesl Tesch (AUS), along with the bronze medallists, John Scott McRoberts and Stacie Louttit from Canada - both teams will be looking to go a place or two better later this summer, however Britain's current SKUD world champions Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell, who have won the world championship for the past four years in the class and will be looking to put their marker down on home waters.
The German 2008 Sonar gold medallists, Jens Kroker, Robert Prem and Siegmund Mainka will be looking out for last year's winners John Robertson, Hannah Stodel & Steve Thomas (GBR). While in the 2.4mR the man to watch is gold and silver medallist Damien Seguin of France - he will be attempting to go one better than Jens Kroker at the Games, and become the most medalled Paralympic sailor of all time. And trying to stop him will be Paul Tingley of Canada, the 2.4mR gold medallist in Qingdao - watch out for these two at Skandia Sail for Gold, neither will want to cede a psychological advantage to the other ahead of this summer's contest.
The Women's Match Racers get the regatta underway at 10:00 local time on Monday 4 June at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy before the Medal Races bring the regatta to a close on Saturday 9 June.
ISAF Sailing World Cup Website
Skandia Sail for Gold Website