THIS month marks not only two years to go until the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, but also sees the first official Test Event for any Olympic sport with sailing’s Aquece Rio International Regatta.

A squad of 30 British sailors – the maximum of two entries in each Olympic class – will take to the waters of Guanabara Bay as part of the 324 sailor, 34-nation entry, as the host’s preparation and focus towards the Rio Games step up a gear in the wake of the FIFA World Cup.

The regatta is set to be the largest Olympic classes sailing competition ever held in Brazil.

The organisers will use the event to trial some of the workforce, equipment, race areas and systems ahead of the Olympic regatta in 2016, while the British Sailing Team, along with their international rivals, will see the event as a vital opportunity to learn about the venue and weather conditions, and what the key ingredients will be towards medal success on Brazilian waters.

Nick Dempsey, Weymouth’s double Olympic medallist and reigning RS:X windsurfing world champion says the event is a vital one for those sailors with medal-winning ambitions in two years’ time.

He said: “The Test Event’s a massive deal. It’s going to be the first proper opportunity we’ll get to race on the Olympic waters against our Olympic competition, organised by the Olympic authority and by the sailing authority.

“So for us it’s a massive test. It’s a great opportunity two years out to actually really test yourself and find out what’s important at the Olympic venue.

“It’s a must for anyone who’s interested in winning an Olympic gold medal or any medal.”

Racing at the regatta got underway today, with the RS:X men’s and women’s windsurfers and the Finn sailors kicking off proceedings. All remaining classes start tomorrow.

* Medal racing will take place on Thursday (RS:X Men, RS:X Women), Friday (Finn, 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17) and Saturday (470 Men, 470 Women, Laser, Laser Radial).