Olympic keelboat duo Peter O'Leary and David Burrows face one of the sternest tests of the summer season but this time its on waters st least.
All 32 boats for the Star European Championship (2nd-10th September) have arrived in Dun Laoghaire and are busy training on Dublin Bay prior to Sunday's first race. Current world champions and double Olympic Gold medallists Iain Percy (GBR) with Andrew Simpson top the entry list while defending title-holders Johannes Polgar (GER) with Markus Koy are also competing.
Beijing 2008 helm O'Leary along with Olympian Burrows, (who crewed a Star at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996) will be in the hunt for a top three place on home waters while Max Treacy and Anthony Shanks will be competing from their home club for the first Star class event in Ireland.
Percy will be seeking to improve on his second place at the recent London Olympic 2012 test-event at Weymouth while the championship will also be an indicator of form before the ISAF Sailing World Championships at Perth in December.
"This fleet is certainly an example of quality rather than quantity," commented Martin Byrne, Commodore of the Royal St. George YC, organising host club. "Looking at the entry-list, a large number of boats could form a typical world top ten and are capable of winning this championship. We expect Dublin Bay will live up to its reputation as a great racing area and deliver good conditions for the seven races."
Five Star world champions or Olympic medallists are included in the line-up while several more are also former champions in other Olympic classes. Polgar and Koy won last year's championship in Viareggio (Italy) in a record turn-out for the Star class. Second-placed runner-up Andrew Campbell (USA) from 2010 is also in Dun Laoghaire, this time with Ian Coleman and are up against 2009 world champion George Szabo (USA) with Mark Strube in the lead-up to selection for next year's Olympics.
Tornado class Gold medallist Fernando Echavarri (ESP) with Fernando Rodriguez Rivero will be competing along with double world champion and Olympic bronze medallist Xavier Rohart (FRA) and Pierre Alexis Ponsot. Former Finn Gold medallist and 2008 world champions Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL) and Dominik Zycki are also certain contenders next week.