Racing gets underway at the 65th Finn Gold Cup in Porto tomorrow, which also offers a final opportunity to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics for one European and one African sailor.
Around 60 sailors from 33 nations are taking part in this prestigious event which was last held at Melbourne in 2019, including the man who won the title on that occasion, New Zealand’s Josh Junior.
Junior, one of four previous world champions involved, hasn’t raced a major Finn event since his victory in 2019, since when he and fellow Kiwi Andy Maloney, also in the fleet, have helped to win the America’s Cup.
Junior told the Finn Gold Cup website: "It’s great to be back in Europe.
"Both Andy and I are excited to race next week.
"It will be interesting to see how the rest of the fleet has developed, and I’m sure everyone will be going very quickly.
"Both Andy and I have had a busy schedule with the America’s Cup and with COVID-19 postponing most of 2020 we couldn’t get to Europe, but we have tried to fit in as much Finn sailing as possible.
"However it has been difficult."
Junior will be up against Hungary’s Zsombor Berecz, who successfully defended his European title last month in Vilamoura, and Britain’s 2016 Olympic gold medallist Giles Scott, who was runner-up in Vilamoura.
Scott has also had calls on his time from the America’s Cup, having worked as a tactician on the British boat.
The race-within-a-race for the last European and African qualifier spots look likely to provide a gripping spectacle.
There are 32 sailors, representing 15 nations, who are eligible to take the European place.
Looking at the European Championship three weeks ago, the best performances were from bronze medallist and world number one Nils Theuninck, from Switzerland, and 21-year-old Joan Cardona, from Spain, who took fourth place overall in retaining his under-23 title.
However there were eight more contenders in the top 20.
For the African continental qualifier, following the news that Namibia had to drop out, there are two nations competing in the form of Karim Esseghir of Tunisia and Leo Davis from South Africa.
The 65th Finn Gold Cup comes at a strange time in the history of this outstanding class, both because of COVID-19 restrictions and the uncertainty over its inclusion at Paris 2024.
Tomorrow will mark the start of a 10-race series that is due to conclude next Wednesday (May 12).