America's best teenage sailors will fire up their futures in Long Beach this weekend when they compete for positions in next summer's Four Star Pizza ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship in Ireland.
The US Sailing Four Star Pizza ISAF Youth World Qualifier will be hosted by the Alamitos Bay Yacht Club Saturday through Monday.
There currently are 96 entries with 126 sailors from across the country on four types of boats: separate classes for boy and girl singlehanded Laser Radials, doublehanded boy and girl International 420 dinghies and singlehanded boy and girl Techno 293 windsurfers; doublehanded 29er skiffs will be a coed class without gender designation.
The list includes Zack Downing, 16, and Paris Henken, 15, of San Diego and Lily Katz, 16, of Brooklyn, N.Y., who were among the seven sailors recognized by sailing author, TV commentator and US Sailing President Gary Jobson on his annual Junior All-Star selections in the current Sailing World magazine.
Downing and Henken will be racing 29ers with crews Andrew Cates and Connor Kelter, respectively. Katz will race a 420 with Fiona Walsh.
The schedule calls for three races Saturday, four Sunday and two Monday, starting at noon, conditions permitting. Also depending on conditions, racing will be on any two of five possible courses inside or outside the breakwater, including one possible course near Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier.
The competitors share a common goal with the Volvo Ocean Race veterans currently circling the globe: Ireland in July.
The big boat guys will stop over at Galway Bay on Ireland's west coast near the finish of their nine-month adventure, while shortly afterward some 400 boys and girls ages 19 and younger from 60 nations will visit Dun Laoghaire (pronounced doon-lary) on Dublin Bay on the east coast for their Youth Worlds showdown July 12-21.
Any member of US Sailing who won't turn 20 until Jan. 1, 2013, or later is eligible.
Class winners will not only race in the Youth Worlds but will be invited to join the US Sailing Development Team as future Olympic prospects. The USSDT will have two teams in each class and a target age span of 16 to 24. More info
Sailors from the U.S. program, launched in 2009 to boost America's Olympic prospects, won three bronze medals in the 2010 Youth Worlds at Istanbul, Turkey and three silver medals at Zadar, Croatia last year.
ABYC hosted the US Sailing ISAF Youth World Qualifier event in 2009 and 2008. Competitors will check in and start boat measurement on Friday.