The One Ton Cup, the oldest and most prestigious French yachting trophy, returns to Britain this week for the first time in nearly 100 years to be contested between some of the world’s top sailors

Created in 1899 by the Cercle de la Voile de Paris, the One Ton Cup is the oldest and the most prestigious French trophy in yachting sport. Although Sweden leads the score with 13 victories, the One Ton Cup is still a matter of rivalry between British and French yachtsmen.

Since Cavale Bleue won last year in Marseilles, British and French are equal eleven all. With half the fleet expected in a fortnight for 79th One Ton Cup, British sailors certainly regard the fact to “play at home” as an opportunity to take the advantage again. Moreover, the cup has remained out of their reach since Jade’s victory in 1985 in Poole, England.

The five British IC45s expected are Babbalaas, Bounder, Indulgence, Hawk and Full Monty. Some owners are planning to take the helm themselves, while others have hired the Kingdom’s pride. Ben Ainslie, Laser Olympic Champion in Sydney and recruited by Oracle Racing for the America’s Cup 2003, shall steer Babbalaas for David McLean. Robert Condon has entrusted the helm of Indulgence to Adrian Stead, Farr 40 World Champion in 1998, winner of the Tour de France à la Voile in 2000 and member of the GBR Challenge.

On the French side, chances will rely on Faster K-Yote I. Her owner, Ortwin Kandler, has taken on an all-American, all-women team. Skipper Dawn Riley has got impressive experience, even compared to her male opponents. She’s notched up three America’s Cups, two Whitbreads, winner of the America’s Cup in 1992 (America3), skipper of an all-women team in both America’s Cup (America3 in 1995) and Whitbread (Maiden in 1989-90), first woman to head a syndicate in the America’s Cup in 2000 (America True).

Greek IC45 Atalanti X is a possible favourite. Her New Zealand skipper Gavin Brady was the tactician of Black Magic, winner of the America’s Cup in 1995. Star World Vice-Champion as well, he is one of the five best skippers in the world at the moment. Danger could also come from German IC45, Faster K-Yote II, likely to lay out a potentially fearsome French team.

Racing takes place until 8 September, we’ll post daily reports and pictures from the event. Full results can be found on the official website