READY STEADY TOKYO - SAILING TO SET THE 2020 OLYMPIC SCENE ONE YEAR OUT15 Aug 2019
Taking place between 15-22 August 2019 at Enoshima Yacht Harbour, the official Tokyo 2020 Olympic Sailing venue, is Ready Steady Tokyo, the official test event for the Games in one year's time.
And if the last two Olympic Games are anything to go by, this week will be a good indicator of how the medal challengers will fare in one year's time.
At Rio 2016, 13 sets of medallists at the test event went on to claim glory at the Games, with 18 replicating podium positions in 2011 and 2012 at the London Olympiad.
Out of those 21 individual sailors involved in 2015 and 2016, 17 of them will line up at Ready Steady Tokyo eyeing similar results, including six who achieved the impressive feat of winning gold at both.
Overall, 30 individual medallists from Rio 2016, as well as an additional 11 from London 2012, are amongst the 363 sailors competing at Ready Steady Tokyo. With only a small percentage already confirmed for next year's Games, the stakes are high on the road to Tokyo 2020, and this week's test event will play a big part in the decisions made before next year.
But it's not just the sailors using this week to test proceedings ahead of 2020. Ready Steady Tokyo will be a perfect opportunity for World Sailing and Tokyo 2020 to finalise their planning for the Olympic Games next year. It also provides a great opportunity for the race management team to test the field of play that will be used at the Games - and all of the Chief Officials appointed to Tokyo 2020 are here too.
The Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee will also use this week as preparation for their national officials and volunteers who will be assisting at the Games, with media operations and overall technology - such as tracking, scoring and communication flows - also put to the test.
2020 will see a new Olympic champion in the Men's 470 as 2016 gold medallist Sime Fantela (CRO) switched to the 49er with brother Mihovil last year. Mat Belcher & Will Ryan (AUS), who won gold at the 2015 test event and silver at the 2016 Games, became 2019 World Champions on these very waters earlier this month. However, breathing down their necks were Jordi Xammar & Nicolas Rodriguez (ESP) and Anton Dahlberg & Fredrik Bergström (SWE), so Ready Steady Tokyo will see a fierce fight between them all.
Elsewhere, Hannah Mills (GBR), who won silver at London 2012 and gold at Rio 2016 with Saskia Clark in the 470 Women, will be entering her third Olympic test event with a different crew. Having claimed silver with Clark at both the 2015 and 2011 test events, Mills will hope that her and Eilidh McIntyre can continue that success as well as build on their recent 2019 world championship title.
The rest of the Dutch sailors at Ready Steady Tokyo have already qualified for the Games. Joining the aforementioned Bouwmeester will be Nicholas Heiner (Finn), Lilian de Geus (RS:X Women), Afrodite Zegers & Lobke Berkhout (470 Women) and Annemiek Bekkering & Annette Duetz (49erFX).
Ai Kondo Yoshida & Miho Yoshioka also became the first Japanese sailors to book their tickets to Tokyo 2020 by winning silver at the 470 Women's World Championships. They'll be at both Ready Steady Tokyo and the Hempel World Cup Series Enoshima, bidding to improve on last year's second-place finish.
Racing in Enoshima is scheduled to commence on Saturday 17 August. The 49er, 49erFX, Nacra and RS:X fleets will conclude racing on 21 August with the 470s, Laser, Laser Radial and Finns following on 22 August.
Source: World Sailing