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Olympic places at stake at 470 World Championship on Palma Bay

470 World Championship 2024

Yacht Racing Podcast

Sixty-three 470 teams from nations as diverse as Angola, Ecuador and Mozambique are gearing up for the first big challenge of the 2024 season, the 470 World Championship in Palma, Mallorca from 24 February to 3 March.

With just a few months until the Olympic Games in Paris 2024, the Worlds are a critical test of form in the final push towards the Olympic Regatta this July. While some crews can focus purely on a good performance in Palma, others have the additional pressure of needing to qualify the country for a spot at the Games. And for some nations this event forms an important part of their selection process for deciding who will wear the national colours at the Olympic Regatta this summer.

There are strong squads coming from China, France, Germany and Great Britain but with the Spanish Olympic selection concluding in favour of Jordi Xammar and Nora Brugman, they will be the sole representatives contesting the Worlds on home waters.

Coming to defend their 2023 World title are the Japanese team of Keiju Okada and Miho Yoshioka who are strong across the range of conditions. Just as the Japanese dominated last year’s Worlds in The Netherlands, so did the 2022 winners in Israel, Luise Wanser & Philipp Autenrieth from Germany. After a lacklustre 2023 season they have their work cut out in what is looking set to be a very close-run qualification process in a competitive German 470 squad.

Andreas Kosmatopoulos, a former 470 World Champion and five-time Olympic representative for Greece, is President of the International 470 Class. “We’re going to see a great competition in Palma,” he said. “There are a number of Olympic qualifying spots being decided here, for Africa, South and North America, and one place for Europe. So the pressure is on, everyone will be at their peak and no one will be holding back.”

“We’re very excited to be holding the Worlds in Palma,” he continued. “We were due to have our 2020 World Championships here four years ago, but then we had to cancel the event at the last minute as COVID started to sweep across Europe. It was a pity for us and a pity for the organising committee, so we owed it to them to come back and finish what we started in 2020.”

Ferrán Muniesa, General Manager of Club Nàutic S’Arenal, commented: “The cancellation of the 2020 edition was a hard blow, because the day it was cancelled was the same day we were starting the measurements. Part of the organising team had already arrived and others were on their way. And it was a disappointment, because that year we had two world championships (470 and Finn), it was an Olympic year, and we were very excited and looking forward to it. Organising a World Championship in an Olympic year is doubly exciting, because it is like a prelude to the Games, so it is great that now in 2024 we have the opportunity to host this important event.”

Kosmatopoulos is confident Muniesa and his team at Club Nàutic S’Arenal will deliver the very best championship experience. “With everything they know from running major regattas every year, including the hugely successful Trofeo Princesa Sofía regatta every Spring, we are in safe and capable hands. The Bay of Palma is capable of delivering a range of conditions, flat water or big waves, light, medium or strong winds. Winning in Palma demands all-round sailing skills, the true test of a World Champion.”

Monday 26 February is practice race day and the end of registration and measurement. The first race of the Championship is scheduled for 1200 hours local time on Tuesday 27 February. After three days of Qualifying Races and two days of Gold Fleet the top 10 teams will race each other in the concluding Medal Race on the sixth and final day of competition, Sunday 3 March.

Words – Andy Rice | Image © Int. 470 Class/Robert Deaves

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