Olympic places in the 470 World Championship in Palma. 470 SAILING

Sixty-three 470 teams from countries as diverse as Angola, Ecuador and Mozambique are preparing for the first major challenge of the 2024 season, the 470 World Championship in Palma, Majorca, from 24 February to 3 March.

With a few months until Paris 2024, the World Championships are crucial in the final push for the Olympic Regatta. While some crews will be focused solely on performing well, others will have the added pressure of qualifying their country for the Games. And for some nations, this event is an important part of their selection process to decide who will wear the national colours at the Olympic Games.

China, France, Germany and Great Britain all have strong squads, but Spain's Olympic selection of Jordi Xammar and Nora Brugman means they will be the only representatives competing on home waters. 

Japan's Keiju Okada and Miho Yoshioka will defend their 2023 title. Just as the Asians dominated last year's World Championships in the Netherlands, so too did the 2022 winners in Israel, Germany's Luise Wanser and Philipp Autenrieth. After a lacklustre 2023 season, they have their work cut out for them in what is likely to be a tight qualification process in a competitive German 470 fleet.

Australia's Mathew Belcher
Will Ryan are the reigning Olympic 470 champions. GETTY IMAGES
Australia's Mathew Belcher Will Ryan are the reigning Olympic 470 champions. GETTY IMAGES

Greece's Andreas Kosmatopoulos, a former 470 World Champion and five-time Olympian, is the President of the International 470 Class. "We will see a great competition in Palma. There are Olympic qualifying spots to be decided for Africa, South and North America and one place for Europe. So the pressure is on, everyone will be at the top of their game and nobody will be holding back," he said. 

"We are very excited to have the Worlds in Palma. We were supposed 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 shame for us and a shame for the Organising Committee, so we owed it to them to come back and finish what we started in 2020," he continued. 

Ferran Muniesa, general manager of Club Nàutic S'Arenal, commented: "The cancellation of the 2020 edition was a hard blow. Part of the organising team had already arrived and others were on their way. And it was a disappointment, because this year we had two world championships (470 and Finn), it was an Olympic year, and we were very excited and looking forward to it." 

Brits Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre regned in women's 470 at Tokyo 2020. GETTY IMAGES
Brits Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre regned in women's 470 at Tokyo 2020. GETTY IMAGES

"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 we now have the opportunity to host this important event in 2024," he stressed. 

Kosmatopoulos is confident that the event will be in top form. "With everything they know from running major regattas every year, including the highly successful Trofeo Princesa Sofía each spring, we are in safe hands. The Bay of Palma offers a wide range of conditions, from flat water to big waves, in light, medium or strong winds. Winning in Palma requires all-round sailing skills," he said.

Monday 26 February will be a practice race day and the end of registration and timing. The first race of the championship is scheduled for Tuesday 27 February at 12.00 local time. After three days of Qualifying Races and two days of Gold Fleet, the top 10 teams will compete in the final Medal Race on the sixth and final day of competition, Sunday 3 March.