Many of the top European J/70 teams will be coming together for the first time in one of the many "bucket-worthy" places to sail in the entire world. While conventional wisdom and local knowledge experts may tell you that after starting you have to "go to the wall" on port tack on the upwind legs and play the puffs and shifts from there, it's often those who play the fleet tactically that gain the most. The downwind sleigh-rides should be thrilling as the J/70s criss-cross in full-on planing conditions, playing the enormous breeze lines and shifts down to the leeward gate.
Of the six nations represented, it's too early to tell who has an advantage over any other since so few of the teams have actually raced against one another. Having said that, there are four experienced teams from France attending, including Fred Bouvier on FRA-112, Luc Lajoye on FRA-142 and Eric Kerscaven on FRA-115 (seen above sailing 18+ kts off France in an early practice session on the Bay of Biscay).
Other continental teams include Kevin Mehlig's German team on GER 270 and Wouter Kollman's HENRI LLOYD team from the Netherlands (also past J/22 Netherlands champion). Russia has two boats sailing, including Dmitri Zaritski on RUS 131 and Sergey Ezhikov on RUS 269-- both teams have been sailing constantly since participating in the Primo Cup in Monaco in late February. They've had opportunities for both match racing and handicap fleet racing on the eastern part of the Baltic Sea, off beach resort community of Kaliningrad.
The largest contingent will be from the host nation Italy, with seven teams sailing. The team to watch may be the duo of Paolo Boido and Mauricio Santa Cruz, both veteran J/24 sailors at numerous World Championships (Santa Cruz is four-times J/24 World Champion and just finished second in the 2013 Worlds recently sailed in Howth, Ireland). A family team is also sailing from Italy; the two young brothers Gaspade & Tancrede sailed their first J/70 Class event at the Primo Cup de Monaco back in February 2013 and are looking forward to sailing in their home waters of Italy-- here's a cute interview of the two (in Italian).
Finally, having been racing all season long on the Solent, with the Warsash Spring Series, Cowes Race Week, the J/70 UK Nationals and the J/Cup Regatta behind them as part of their regatta experience, it will be interesting to see how well the top British teams perform on the famous Garda Lake. Four teams from the UK are sailing, including Joe Woods on GBR 108 and Ruairidh Scott on GBR 137 (the current J/70 UK National Champion). For more J/70 EuroCup sailing information