Four Brits will not only fight their international rivals but also each other as the battle for the one Team GB spot in the Laser fleet continue at the 2020 Worlds in Australia.
Hoping to clinch a second Olympics, Rio Olympian and 2015 and 2016 World Champion Nick Thompson, faces stiff competition from his British team mates, including current European champion Lorenzo Chiavarini, Olympic test event representative Elliot Hanson and 2018 European silver medallist Michael Beckett.
“It’s the one event of the year that motivates and inspires me more than any other,” said former Thompson, from Lymington, “I’m excited for the Worlds to start. Racing will be tough with the strong winds and flat water but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Elliot Hanson finished fourth in the recent Sail Melbourne Regatta, Thompson finished 10th, Becket 22nd and Chiavarni 31st, leaving Olympic selection wide-open.
But the Worlds are a very different game to the Olympics, with 131 sailors from 45 countries competing in Melbourne, beginning on Tuesday 11 February.
Five sailors boast a total of nine Olympic medals among them.
Leading the way with five medals – two gold, two silver and a bronze – is Brazilian Robert Scheidt, who was Olympic Champion in 1996 and 2004 and won the silver at Sydney 2000 after an epic battle with Ben Ainslie.
Now aged 46, Scheidt is not as competitive in the single-handed dinghy as he once was, but on the tricky Sandringham course, no-one will be prepared to write him off.
Vindication may be the motivation for 2016 Rio Olympic Champion, Tom Burton of Australia. Burton is the defending world champion but was controversially overlooked for the Tokyo Olympic team, with his place going to Perth sailor Matt Wearn.
Others to watch include Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) who was beaten for the Rio gold medal by Tom Burton in controversial circumstances, when the two sailors were locked in a pre-start match race.
It appeared that a jury boat created a wash that disadvantaged the Croatian just before the gun and Burton was able to sail away for the win.
Pavlos Kontides (CYP) also knows all about match racing in a Laser medal race after he was sailed off the course by Australian Tom Slingsby at London 2012. The Cypriot became his country’s first ever Olympic medallist.
The Laser event begins with a practice race on Monday 10 February, followed by six days of two races per day from February 11 to 16, weather permitting.
Also starting on Monday are the 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 World Championships, where the confirmed Team GB selections will be competing.
And despite how they claim to be approaching these events, their performance will be closely monitored following the forecast of a five medal haul for Team GB sailing at Tokyo 2020, by British Sailing Team boss Ian Walker.
Both regattas begin with a qualifying series before gold fleet racing which culminates in a final day medal race on February 15 for the 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 and February 16 for the Lasers.
Later this month the Laser Radial and men’s and women’s RS:X fleets will compete for their world titles in Sandringham and Sorrento, and once again Team GB selected sailors will be competing.
British Sailing Team World Championship entries:
GBR Nacra 17 entries:
John Gimson and Anna Burnett (Team GB)
GBR 49er entries:
Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell (Team GB)
Jack Hawkins and Chris Thomas
Chris Taylor and Rhos Hawes
GBR 49erFX entries:
Charlotte Dobson and Saskia Tidey (Team GB)
GBR Laser entries: (Team GB selection pending)