With a host of new or changed Olympic Sailing classes, Paris 2024 could be one of the most exciting Games in years. But which athletes look set to take a podium? Helen Fretter speaks to Olympic sailing reporter Andy Rice to pick ones to watch on the water:

Could Paris 2024 be one of the best Olympic regattas yet? Hosted by a country truly passionate about sailing, combined with – hopefully – stunning Mediterranean weather, and sailing fans should be in for a treat.

The 2024 Olympic sailing regatta will be held at Marseilles on the Mediterranean.

Marseille’s coastline, flanked by the Calanques cliffs to the south and the Frioul islands to the west, can create challenging conditions. Everything from stifling hot and light wind days to full-on Mistral conditions is possible.

France has fielded a strong home team, with the Netherlands also hotly tipped for medals in several classes. But can Britain retain its position as the top sailing nation? Five GBR sailors have already competed in at least one Games, while nine are making their Olympic debut. A bold call perhaps, but GBR has at least an outside chance of a medal in almost all 10 classes…

But there’s no such thing as a sure-thing in the Olympics and every fleet is a hotbed of talent. Together with Olympic reporter Andy Rice – who’s had a front-row seat at many of the big class events – we’ve picked our tips for who to watch.

ILCA 6: Marit Bouwmeester will be bidding for a fourth medal. Photo: Sander van der Borch/World Sailing


The men’s Olympic sailing single-hander class ILCA 7 looks set to be one of the most nail-biting showdowns between Matt Wearn (AUS) and Micky Beckett (GBR).

Wearn won Gold in Tokyo and back-to-back ILCA World Championship titles. But he’s been pushed hard through this Olympic cycle by Beckett, who is going to his first Games after winning silver at the Test Event at the same venue last summer, and back to back Trofeo Princesa Sofia regattas.

Behind these two the field is wide open, though French contender Jean-Baptiste Bernaz could challenge for a medal on his home waters.

The women’s single-handed ILCA 6 fleet is packed with serious experience. Marit Bouwmeester (NED) will be bidding to overtake Hannah Mills as the most decorated female Olympian of all time, having won a gold, silver and bronze medal at three previous Games.

Bouwmeester also won last year’s Test Event, securing 1st even before the medal race. Tough opposition comes from Anne Marie Rindom (DEN) who won the World Championships this year and took gold at the last Games. Emma Plasschaert (BEL) is another strong medal contender and a double world champion.

British entry Hannah Snellgrove might not be expected to rival those right at the front of the fleet, but she’s had an unconventional journey to the Games. Snellgrove combined training in the British Team with studying for a Cambridge University degree, and at one stage busked with her folk band (band name: Bimbling) to help fund her campaign. She was selected for the Olympics aged 33, after finishing 11th at the Worlds.

The skiff class is a huge physical test. Photo: Sander van der Borch/World Sailing

49er & 49erFX

The men’s double-handed skiff is expected to be a close, three-way duel. The Dutch pairing of Bart Lambriex and Floris van de Werken have an edge as favourites, having won three back-to-back Worlds and last year’s Test Event. But they’re likely to be pushed hard by Erwan Fischer and Clément Pequin (FRA), current World Champions who’ll be looking for a home win, and Diego Botin and Florian Trittel (ESP).

The British pairing of James Peters and Flynn Sterritt have shown they can challenge at the front of the fleet on their best days, but it’ll be a battle for consistency against the top teams.

Dutch skiff dominance continues in the women’s double-hander, with Odile van Aanholt and Annette Duetz top-ranked as winners of the Test event and World Champions. Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) will be giving everything they’ve got to try and secure a third gold after winning in Rio and Tokyo. Swedish pairing Vilma Bobeck and Rebecca Netzler are also likely to be in the mix for medals.

Britain’s Freya Black and Saskia Tidey will be headed straight from the Olympics to Barcelona, as members of the Athena women’s and youth British America’s Cup team. They qualified for the Games with a great 5th at the 2023 Worlds, but it’ll be a step up to get onto the medal podium.

Photo: Vincent Curutchet/World Sailing


The oldest Olympic sailing class has had a big shake-up for 2024, with the move to a mixed team format. There isn’t any consensus on whether it’s better to have the male or female crew on the tiller or the trapeze, with the top 10 teams split evenly in their approach.

What has changed is which countries are dominant, with Australia and Great Britain no longer clear ahead. The GBR duo of Vita Heathcote and Chris Grube can definitely get there, as a silver at this year’s Worlds demonstrated, but they’ve had less time together than some other teams.

World Champions Jordi Xammar and/ Nora Brugman (ESP) are favourites, with Camille Lecointre and Jeremie Mion (FRA) tipped for silver ahead of Japan.

Photo: Sander van der Borch/World Sailing

Nacra 17

The mixed multihull was already the fastest dinghy at the Games, but since Tokyo the foiling cat class has gone through a major development for even more speed.

“They’ve gone from foiling downwind to putting rudder elevators on for this Olympic cycle, which now allows them to foil upwind as well in anything more than 10-11 knots of wind,” explains Andy Rice. That hasn’t had the effect of shaking up the leaderboard though, with the Tokyo medallists expected to follow similar form in Paris.

Italians remain favourites after back to back World Championships wins for Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti, but Brits John Gimson and Anna Burnet are hotly tipped for another silver. Germany could also take bronze again, although other nations like Argentina, New Zealand, Sweden and The Netherlands have serious podium intentions.

Photo: Mark Lloyd/World Sailing


Another change for this Games is the introduction of a new foiling windsurfing class for both men and women in the iQFOil. This is the class that’s hardest to establish consistency in, but Nicoló Renna (ITA) is a solid performer and the current world champion. The two previous world title holders for 2022 and 2023 respectively, Sebastien Koerdel (GER) and Luuc van Opzeeland (NED), are other serious podium prospects. GBR’s Sam Sills has an outside chance for a medal too.

In the women’s fleet Britain’s Emma Wilson is expected to podium after a consistent season which saw her take silver or bronze at all the major class events – iQFOiL medal races see just three sailors fight it out for gold. Wilson also took a bronze Olympic medal at Tokyo 2020 in the non-foiling RS:X class.

Israel has been a force to be reckoned with in the women’s iQFOil class with several top performers, and world champion Sharon Kantor will be going to the Games.

Photo: Mark Lloyd/World Sailing

Formula Kite

The final two places for sailing athletes at Paris go to men’s and women’s kitefoiling racers. Unlike the iQFoil windsurfers, which really need a minimum of 9 knots to race, Formula Kite racers can compete in wind speeds from 5 knots up to 30, so should be able to handle any conditions at Marseilles.

GBR’s Emma Aldridge is expected to be at the front of the fleet, though is one of the smaller athletes in the class. Lauriane Nolot came out top of a fierce selection fight for France’s Kite slot, and is likely gold medal favourite.

Six-time world champion Daniela Moroz (USA) is another contender and would have been a clear favourite up until two years ago since when the European powerhouses have closed the gap on the kiteboarding pioneer from California.

Max Maeder (SGP) is the runaway favourite for the men’s gold. Aged just 17, he wins most major events he enters. Axel Mazella (FRA) is a consistent performer who should bring home another medal for the hosts, while the more mercurial Toni Vodisek (SLO) can perform at the very top on his day. GBR’s Connor Bainbridge is also capable of a top performance, but with a late qualification for Paris – along with a number of injuries – hasn’t had an ideal preparation for his first Games.

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