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Genoa gearing up for Hempel World Cup Series debut

by World Sailing 12 Apr 10:25 PDT 15-21 April 2019
Tita and Banti at Hempel World Cup Series Enoshima © Sailing Energy / World Sailing

The Italian city of Genoa is preparing to host over 700 sailors between 15-21 April 2019 for the first ever Hempel World Cup Series regatta to be held in the country.

The Fiera di Genova, which hosts the International Boat Show every year, will welcome world class sailors across eight of the ten Olympic events.

Racing in the 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 will commence on Monday 15 April and conclude on the 20th. Meanwhile, the 470s, Laser, Laser Radial and Finn will start on Tuesday 16 April and wrap up on the final Sunday, the 21st.

Medal Races on the 20th and 21st will be streamed live on World Sailing's YouTube Channel.

Home nation hopes will be firmly pinned on 2018 World Champions Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti who will spearhead a highly-competitive 49-boat Nacra 17 fleet.

Tita and Banti dominated 2018: they won gold at the European Championship and at the World Cup Final in Marseille, before heading to the Hempel Sailing World Championships Aarhus 2018 where they clinched their first world title. At the recent Trofeo Princesa Sofia Iberostar, however, the pair finished outside of the top three for the first time in 18 months. Proof that they can indeed be beaten to a podium spot - but they'll surely be determined to put things right on their home waters.

Aiming to upset the favourites will be compatriots Vittorio Bissaro and Maelle Frascari (ITA). The duo took silver at the World Cup Final in Marseille and followed it up with bronze in Enoshima at the end of last year. Neither of the Italian crews were present in Miami but, with a silver medal at Trofeo Princesa Sofia under their belt, Bissaro and Frascari will be pushing their Italian team-mates all the way on their home patch.

Two British teams will also be eyeing success in Genoa. World #3 Ben Saxton and Nicola Boniface (GBR) and World #4 John Gimson and Anna Burnet (GBR) are consistently at the front of the fleet and will be targeting the podium.

Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin (AUS), gold medallists at the opening two rounds of the Hempel World Cup Series in Enoshima and Miami, will miss out on Genoa following an injury sustained on their way to victory at Trofeo Princesa Sofia.

The 49er and 49erFX fleets will feature 66 and 51 boats respectively and will be hotly-contested on the Genovese waters - with a familiar fight in the 49erFX.

Brazil's Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze are on a run of five straight victories and are currently undefeated in the 2019 Hempel World Cup Series.

They clinched gold back in September on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic waters and swiftly followed up with another in January's Miami sunshine. It wasn't all smooth sailing in the US for the Brazilians, as they were initially off the pace against New Zealand's Alex Maloney and Molly Meech, but they overcame a huge deficit in the Medal Race to upset the odds.

The Brazilian and New Zealand rivalry goes back to Rio 2016, where Grael and Kunze clinched gold by just two seconds in the Medal Race. On the road to Tokyo, there is very little separating the two teams, and Genoa will no doubt throw out another compelling narrative in the latest showdown between the Brazilians and the Kiwis.

In the 49er, Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) make their first World Cup appearance for three years, having only returned to the 49er in January. The Rio 2016 Olympic gold medallists claimed America's Cup glory together in 2017, then became rivals in The Ocean Race in 2017/18. They finished seventh at a fiercely-contested Trofeo Princesa Sofia and, as they continue to blow away the cobwebs, they'll fancy their chances of a medal in Genoa.

2018 World Champions Sime and Mihovil Fantela (CRO) will be part of the fleet in Genoa, as will strong teams from Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the USA.

116 Laser sailors will line up to commence battle in Genoa. Always the best-attended fleet at any regatta - and quite often the most open - the pack contains several who have what it takes to claim a medal.

Pavlos Kontides (CYP) has dominated the Laser in recent years, winning back-to-back World Championship titles in 2017 and 2018, but he finished a disappointing 25th at Trofeo Princesa Sofia. The Cypriot will be hoping to put things right in Genoa, but he'll be up against Rio 2016 silver medallist and good friend Tonci Stipanovic (CRO). The Croatian is a regular on the World Cup circuit and has amassed numerous World Cup medals throughout his career.

Wannes Van Laer (BEL), Karl Martin Rammo (EST), Finn Lynch (IRL), Hermann Tomasgaard (NOR) and Jesper Stalheim (SWE) will also be targeting the podium; Tomaasgaard being the most recent Hempel World Cup Series gold medallist with a stunning 47-point victory in Miami.

In the Laser Radial, Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN) will be the one to beat following her gold medal performance at Trofeo Princesa Sofia. Rising stars suchs as Greece's Vasileia Karachaliou, Hungary's Maria Erdi, Switzerland's Maud Jayet and Uruguay's Dolores Moreira Fraschini will also be hot contenders for the first ever Genoa Hempel World Cup Series podium.

Rio 2016 silver medallists Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS) will spearhead the 43-boat Men's 470 fleet. The Australians rarely finish off the podium so will be firm favourites for a medal. The gold medallists from Enoshima, Keiju Okada and Jumpei Hokazono (JPN) and Miami, Jordi Xammer Hernandez and Nicolás Rodriguez Garcia-Paz (ESP), will join the Australians in the fleet alongside a string of further leading lights.

In the Women's 470, 37 teams will fight for gold and Italy's own Benedetta di Salle and Alessandra Dubbini will be keen to impress on their home waters. The Italians showed their worth by securing bronze in Enoshima at the start of the 2019 series, and even though leading contenders such as France's Olympic bronze medallst Camille Lecointre, sailing with Aloise Retornaz, and current World Champions Ai Kondo Yoshida and Miho Yoshioka (JPN) are within the fleet, they are certainly capable of taking gold.

21 competitors will face off in a relatively inexperienced Finn fleet. Jorge Zarif of Brazil is the only competitor in the world's top 15 racers present and will be favourite for gold, but breathing down his neck will be the youthful Oskari Muhonen (FIN) who shone with silver in Miami.

The 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 will commence racing first of all on Monday 15 April at 11:00 local time, sailing in split fleets.

The remaining fleets will follow on Tuesday 16 April. The Laser and Laser Radial fleets will also sail in split fleets for the first two days of competition.

Medal Races will start on Saturday 20 April with the podium places to be decided in the 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 first before the remaining fleets are decided the day after.

All races will be broadcast live on World Sailing's YouTube Channel.

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