Adapting to change for Paris 2024

Published on February 21st, 2024

There are 63 international teams making final preparations before the 2024 470 World Championship being held February 27-March 3 in Palma, Mallorca. But beyond winning a world title, USA is among a handful of nations that hope to at least place high enough to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Some good teams will be left behind, not quite able to make that final leap to the Games, but that’s the brutal nature of elite sport. One thing that 470 crews can all agree on, they have one of the most level playing fields in high-level sailing.

Where there used to be a number of such measurement-rule classes in the Olympic line-up – the Finn, Tornado, Star, Soling, Flying Dutchman, among many others – the 470 is the only such boat in the 2024 edition of the Olympic Regatta.

The other nine Olympic events use single manufacturer one-designs, whereas the Mixed Two Person Dinghy remains with the 470 boat in which sailors can choose from a range of hull manufacturers, mast builders, and sailmakers to find the best combination to suit their size, weight, and sailing style.

Equipment on the 470 is highly refined and there’s not much to choose in boat speed between one brand of equipment and another. That’s partly because of market forces – you either develop or die – and also because of the class age as the first World Championship took place in 1970.

The 470’s first Olympic appearance was at the Montreal Games in 1976 when the gold medal went to West Germany’s Frank Hübner and Harro Bode. At first the 470 was an ‘Open’ Olympic class, where men and women were invited to compete against each other.

However, the reality was that the class was almost completely male, with notable exceptions such as Great Britain’s Cathy Foster who with crew Pete Newlands won the last race of the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Regatta to finish 7th overall.

From the 1988 Games onwards, however, men and women have competed in their separate 470 categories, with Allison Jolly and Lynne Jewell taking the first ever women’s 470 Olympic gold in the huge seas of Pusan in Korea.

The male and female categories persisted up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, when Great Britain’s Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre took women’s gold and Matt Belcher and Will Ryan won men’s gold for Australia.

But since Tokyo, the Olympic events were changed, with now men’s and women’s sailors merging for a single event – 470 Mixed – with men and women now competing together in the same boat. The big question everyone was asking was which way round would prove to be more effective on the race track? Female helm/ male crew, just like Foster and Newlands back in the day, or male helm/ female crew?

The question hasn’t really been answered yet, or maybe it has, because evidence of the past two or three seasons suggests it doesn’t seem to matter.

Luise Wanser and Philipp Autenrieth from Germany dominated the 2022 Worlds in Israel to make a case for female/male combinations, yet the 2023 Worlds were dominated by another team, Japan’s male/female combo, Keiju Okada and Miho Yoshioka.

At the halfway point of last year’s Worlds in The Hague, the top 10 was occupied in equal measure by five and five of the different combinations.

Andreas Kosmatopoulos, a former 470 World Champion and five-time Olympic representative for Greece, is President of the International 470 Class. He is delighted how equally balanced between the genders the 470 Mixed has proven to be.

“There is obviously an element of strength and fitness required in the 470 but it is primarily a game of athletic chess,” he noted. “It doesn’t seem to matter who is on the rudder, who is steering the boat, what’s more important is the way that the helm and crew function together as a team. So, with 470 Mixed we have the perfect test for men and women.”

Coming to defend their 2023 World title are the Japanese team of Keiju Okada and Miho Yoshioka. The first race of the 2024 World Championship is scheduled on February 27. After three days of Qualifying Races and two days of Gold Fleet, the top 10 teams will race each other in the concluding Medal Race on the sixth and final day of competition, March 3.

Event detailsEntry listFacebook

comment banner

Tags: ,

Back to Top ↑

Get Your Sailing News Fix!

Your download by email.

  • Hidden
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

We’ll keep your information safe.