Racing at the Tokyo 2020 sailing test event is set to begin tomorrow with history suggesting the outcome of competition at Enoshima Yacht Harbour will be a good indicator of how the medal challengers will fare at next year’s Olympic Games.
Thirteen sets of medallists at the Rio 2016 test event went on to claim glory at the Olympics, while 18 podium positions were replicated from the 2011 test event at London 2012.
Out of those 21 individual sailors involved in 2015 and 2016, 17 of them will line up in Enoshima eyeing similar results, including six who achieved the impressive feat of winning gold medals at both.
Overall, 30 individual medallists from Rio 2016, as well as an additional 11 from London 2012, are among the 363 sailors competing.
Olympic champions in the finn, Britain’s Giles Scott, and the 49erFX, Brazilians Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze, prepared for Rio 2016 in the best possible manner by winning the test event in 2015.
Grael and Kunze will also be seeking to make it two consecutive Hempel World Cup Series victories in Enoshima after the test event concludes.
Two of the most successful sailors competing are New Zealand’s Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, who won the 49er gold medal at Rio 2016 as well as the 2015 test event.
France’s Charline Picon, defending champion in the women's RS:X fleet, will also be keen to replicate her 2015 preparation of winning the gold medal.
Unlike the others, she has already officially confirmed her spot at Tokyo 2020 for her country.
At #ReadySteadyTokyo, @oficial_rfev 🇪🇸 will have two teams amongst the #470sailing Women’s fleet.@SMasPodium & @patri_cantero and Bàrbara Cornudella & Sara López are closely matched and will be looking to impress in #Enoshima this week...#1YearToGo pic.twitter.com/wdo6zpTDQ8— World Sailing 🌎⛵️ (@worldsailing) August 16, 2019
Next year will see a new Olympic champion in the men's 470 as Rio 2016 gold medallist Šime Fantela of Croatia switched to the 49er with brother Mihovil in 2018.
Australia’s Mathew Belcher and Will Ryan, who won the gold medal at the 2015 test event and silver at Rio 2016, became world champions on the same Enoshima waters earlier this month.
But breathing down their necks were Spain’s Jordi Xammar and Nicolás Rodríguez, and Sweden’s Anton Dahlberg and Fredrik Bergström.
The test event is likely to see a fierce battle between them all.
Britain's Hannah Mills, who won the women's 470 silver medal at London 2012 and gold at Rio 2016 with Saskia Clark, 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 World Championship-winning performance.
Rio 2016 gold medallist and London 2012 silver medallist Marit Bouwmeester of the Netherlands sealed her place at Tokyo 2020 two years in advance by topping the laser radial fleet at the 2018 World Cup in Enoshima.
France's Pierre Le Coq and Germany's Erik Heil and Thomas Plössel, all of whom won bronze both at the Rio 2016 test event and the Olympics, are not competing in Enoshima.
Thomas Goyard is the French representative in the men's RS:X, while Justus Schmidt and Maximilian Boehme will be competing in the 49er fleet for Germany.
Laser world champion Tom Burton of Australia went from bronze at the Rio 2016 test event to gold at the Olympics but has got high-level competition to represent Australia as he bids to retain his title.
He is joined in Enoshima by team-mate Matthew Wearn, who finished runner-up to Burton at this year's World Championship in Sakaiminato in Japan.
The test event is also seen as an opportunity for World Sailing and Tokyo 2020 to finalise their planning for the Olympics, and for the race management team to test the field of play that will be used at the Games.
Tokyo 2020 will use the event as preparation for their national officials and volunteers who will be assisting at the Olympics, with media operations and overall technology – such as tracking, scoring and communication flows – also being put to the test.
The 49er, 49erFX, nacra and RS:X fleets are due to conclude racing on Wednesday (August 21), with the 470s, laser, laser radial and finn fleets following on Thursday (August 22).