LEADING British sailor Nick Thompson is looking to take the next step on the road to Rio with success in this week’s ISAF World Sailing Championship.

The Lymington-based Olympic hopeful has secured podium places in the revered Laser World Championship three times, with a bronze medal in 2009 followed by silvers in 2010 and 2011.

Thompson’s form has been strong this season with bronze in the European Championships and the Rio Olympic test event and a first world championship gold in Santander, Spain would be a welcome boost to his campaign.

Thompson said: “I think if there is going to be an event to do it at then this has to be the one. It’s always that little bit special as it’s only every four years.

“To do it here would be fantastic and to also do it two years ahead of the Olympics would again be a really big achievement, so that is my aim. It’s going to be a tricky old event.”

Thompson will be one of five Brits competing in the 150-boat Laser fleet, regarded as the biggest and most keenly-contested class which includes Britain’s newly-crowned Laser under-21 world and European champion Lorenzo Chiavarini.

The event kicks off today and runs through to the final medal race next Thursday with Brazil’s Robert Scheidt and Australian Tom Burton considered by Thompson as his key rivals for the top prize.

Discussing his prospective adversaries, Thompson added: “To single out one person would be tricky. There are a lot of guys who given the chance will get a good result here and I think it will go right down to the wire and probably down to the medal race.

“If you look down the list there are few guys that stand out and who have been performing pretty consistently but anyone who has a good week will certainly be challenging.

"I have been sailing pretty well in the build up to this event and it would be nice to get a gold medal. I’m going into it feeling pretty positive and confident in my sailing. To get a third medal for the season would be a fantastic result.”

Racing in Santander sees a staggered schedule across the 10 Olympic classes.

Schedule – 12-18 September: Laser and Laser Radial.

13-19 September: RS:X Men and RS:X Women.

14-20 September: 470 Men and 470 Women.

15-21 September: 49er, 49erFX, Finn and Nacra 17