THE Paris Olympics may still be 12 months away – but for Rhu sailor Anna Burnet the countdown to the Games is now very much on.

Burnet and her sailing partner John Gimson are in the south of France this week taking part in the Paris 2024 test event.

The Olympic sailing competitions will take place in the waters of the Mediterranean, off the coast of Marseille, next summer – and Burnet and Gimson are among 14 British sailors competing in this week’s test event as they aim to go one better than the silver medal they won in Tokyo in 2021.

Burnet and Gimson worked their way slowly up the leaderboard in the course of first three races, held on Tuesday, finishing ninth, fifth and fourth. 

They followed that up on Wednesday with a third and fifth place in races four and five, but suffered a setback in race six and had to settle for 12th place, with the Italian pair of Gianluigi Ugolini and Maria Giubilei leading the way overall after the first two days of action.

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After a rest day today (Thursday), the Nacra 17 crews are back in action with three races on Friday and three more on Saturday, ahead of the medal race just after midday on Sunday.

And while the test event is – in theory at least – a dry run to give the organisers and World Sailing a chance to trial and refine their processes, with the athletes just there to give a helping hand, in reality it’s the closest thing to the Olympics that the competitors will get before next summer.

It’s also an important opportunity for Burnet, Gimson and their rivals to fine-tune their preparations ahead of the Nacra 17 world championships, taking place at The Hague in the Netherlands next month.

Speaking before the Marseille test event began, Gimson said: “We are delighted to be selected for the test event. It’s always a big milestone in any Olympic campaign.

“It’s a big test for the organisers, but it’s also a good test for us to race in the Olympic venue and and make sure we understand the conditions so we can see where we are strong and what areas we need to work on before the Olympics next year.”