Taking place as part of the 55th edition of Semaine Olympique Française from 20-27 April in Hyères, France, there are 67 athlete places for 50 boat places still up for grabs. 

19 April 2024

Competition for those final spots across the 10 Olympic disciplines is bound to be fierce at the Semaine Olympique Française where there will be – in effect – two separate regattas across the same week, with the Qualified Nations sailing out of Hyères harbour, with two participants for each nation and class.  

However, for once it’s not the front of the world fleet who are the focus of attention, as the biggest drama will be taking place in the battle for those final spots in the Last Chance Regatta. 

Seven in the Men’s and eight in the Women’s Windsurfing are available in the iQFOiL, and five for Men’s and Women’s Kite, with four in the 470 for the Mixed Dinghy, and four in each of the Men’s Dinghy in the ILCA 7 and Women’s Dinghy in the ILCA 6, four 49ers in the Men’s Skiff and five 49erFXs in the Women’s Skiff and the four Nacra 17 Mixed Multihull. 

There are some fascinating stories to follow during the coming week. In the ILCA 7 World Championship in Australia earlier in the year, identical twins Ford and Marshall McCann finished as the top two USA representatives. However, they didn’t finish high up enough the order to claim a nation’s spot for USA, so now it’s down to Hyères to see if this major sailing nation can secure a place. 

Ford beat his brother and the rest of the American ILCA 7 fleet at a domestic selection trials in Miami a few weeks back, so Ford knows he is going to the Games but only if he claims that nation’s spot. Marshall is also due to compete in Hyères and it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that he might earn the nation’s spot ahead of Ford, yet it would still be Ford who gets to represent the USA this summer at the Olympic Regatta in Marseille.


Considering that Germany took medals in both skiff classes three years ago at Tokyo 2020 – a silver in the women and a bronze in the men – it’s surprising that this powerful sailing nation has yet to earn a nation’s spot in either category. It’s almost unthinkable that Germany won’t be on the start line in Marseille this summer. Marla Bergmann and Hanna Wille have won the national trials already, so now it’s up to them to secure their place at the Games. Poland and Malta also look like strong prospects for claiming a place, or if it’s lighter winds it could play more in favour of Japan and Singapore. 

Such is the rate of progress in the ever-developing Formula Kite class, there are some riders who have made big improvements in recent months. Most notable in the women’s fleet is Switzerland’s Elena Lengwiler who a year ago could barely guarantee to complete a gybe without fear of crashing. The Swiss rider has come on leaps and bounds to the point where she finished fourth at the recent European Championship in Spain. She is starting to look like a serious contender for an Olympic medal, yet first Lengwiler will need to secure a nation’s spot in Hyères. 

It’s a similar story for Connor Bainbridge from Great Britain who is returning to medal form following a fifth place at the recent Europeans. It was a shock when Bainbridge didn’t manage to claim a nation’s place at last year’s Sailing World Championship in The Hague or the 2023 Europeans in Portsmouth, but now is the Briton’s opportunity to get the campaign back on track. Like Lengwiler, if Bainbridge can secure the spot for Marseille he will expect to be fighting for the medals this summer. 

In the men’s iQFOiL windsurfing the favourites for a place at the Games include USA, Lithuania, Turkey and Greece, with the USA’s Noah Lyons looking the strongest of the bunch. In the women’s competition, an eighth place for Maria Belen Bazo at the recent Trofeo Princesa Sofia in Palma suggests Peru might grab one of the last spots, with Turkey, Czech Republic and Denmark among other likely front runners. 

For some of the athletes, Semaine Olympic Française will be their last major regatta before the Olympic Sailing competition, which takes place from 28 July through to 8 August at Marseille Marina, where 330 sailors – with equal distribution between men and women – will compete in all 10 events. The Kite will make its debut this year as kiteboarding enters the Olympic Games, and iQFOiL will be used for the first time in the windsurfing events.