Pinnacle Youth Event Kicks Off In Poland
Action in the 420 Fleetat the 2003 Youth Worlds© Event Media
Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship 2004
254 sailors, together with their associated team leaders and coaches, from 53 nations are in their final preparations for the world's most famous and premier Championship for under 19s which starts today.
53 nations marks history in the making, as it is the greatest number of nations ever to participate at the Championship.
The Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship, this year being held in Gdynia, Poland between 8 and 17 July attracts the cream of the sailing stars of the future, and along with winning the Volvo Nations' Trophy for the best performing nation, is a Championship title which youngsters aspire to all year.
This year is no different. The Entry Lists published today, reveal a wide range of talent across the seven different disciplines and using five different classes, the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship has seen Olympic and America's Cup Champions cut their teeth in a major, multi class regatta over many years. The likes of Ben AINSLIE, Russell COUTTS (NZL), Laser champion Robert SCHEIDT (who won the event in 1991) and a host of other top class sailors.
This year's event will see two sailors who are competing in Poland also taking the trip, only a few weeks later, to Athens for the Olympic Sailing Competition.
Veselin NANEV (BUL), who finished 13 at the 2003 event in Madeira, Portugal, will represent his country in the Windsurfing Men event, both in Poland and Athens. Last year's Gold medallist in the Girls Windsurfing, Zofia KLEPAKA (POL) will represent her home nation at the Championship before heading out to Athens.
In each fleet in Poland the competition will no doubt be as hot as it was at last year's event in Madeira, and the holders of the Nations' Trophy, Australia, will be returning to Poland to defend the title they won in emphatic form last year. They are amongst nine nations sending competitors in every event in a list that includes Brazil, Spain, France, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, New Zealand and the host country, Poland. Any one of these nations could take home the ultimate prize at the end of the week's competition.
Gdynia itself is one of the youngest Polish cities and along with Gdansk and Sopot, forms what is known as Triplecity. Situated on the Gulf of Gdansk, which has been host to a number of World and Continental Championships over the years, sailing will take place in the warm, shallow waters of the Baltic Sea. The venue is ideally located and will produce some fantastic conditions guaranteed to test sailors to the extreme.
The additional number of nations competing mean that there are several new ones taking the journey to Poland in the summer. Latvia and Cuba are both funded by the ISAF Athlete Participation Programme and will attend the event for the first time in its history.
Latvia is represented by Rudolfs VETRA, an 18 year old who will sail the Boy's Single-Handed event in the Laser Class, whilst Cuba is represented by Zoe Barrios FLEITAS in the Girl's Windsurfing, Jesus ALBERTO in the Boy's Single-handed Dinghy and Anneris FALCON and Yisel Suarez CASANAS in the Girls Double-handed Dinghy, which will be the International 420 in 2004.
Boys Single-handed Dinghy - Laser
In the Laser fleet, 43 nations are represented, and with both last year's Gold and Silver medallists now too old to compete, the immediate favourite would have to be Croatian Tonci STIPANOVIC. With a bronze medal under his belt from last year, he clearly knows how to perform on a big stage and will put up a strong performance.
Fighting the medal positions there are a total of five sailors who went to Madeira in 2003, and even one, Javier PADRON (ESP), who competed in the 2002 Championship in Lunenburg, Canada. Simon MORGAN (AUS) takes up the reins for the holders of the Nations' Trophy and will be hoping to emulate the achievement from Ricky IRONMONGER (AUS), Gold medallist in 2003.
Girls Single-handed Dinghy - Laser Radial
14 of the 32 girls competing in the Laser Radial fleet this year in Poland are returning, or have competed in previous Youth Worlds. Last year's Gold medallist, Paige RAILEY (USA), who now has two medals under her belt with the third place she achieved in the Byte in Lunenberg in 2002, is looking for a hat-trick, and will be fired up for the Championship.
Competition will be tough however, with last year's Bronze medallist, Sarah STEYAERT (FRA) returning to stake her claim on the Championship as well as fifth place finisher, Charlotte DOBSON (GBR), hoping to improve on her result last year for Great Britain's attempt on the Nations' Trophy this year.
Boys Double-handed Dinghy - 420
Nathan OUTTERIDGE (AUS), part of last year's all conquering team and now at his third championship in a row, has already won two successive titles, and the pressure will be on if he is to achieve what no-one have done since Chris Dickson in the boy's double-handed dinghy. Dickson achieved four Gold medals and at the moment, Outteridge is looking for his third. This year he is sailing with new crew Iain JENSEN.
As well as Outteridge, only five other teams have represented their nation at the Youth Worlds and that includes Zachary BROWN and Graham BIEHL (USA), who finished seventh last year.
Girls Double-handed Dinghy - 420
Yet again in this fleet the dominant Aussies return. Elise RECHICHI won the Girls Double-handed event alongside Raychele MARTIN. This year her crew is Tessa PARKINSON, and with only three other teams having made an appearance in past championships, they certainly have the experience to again, look for a hat-trick of Gold medals.
28 nations are represented in the girls 420 fleet, eight more than in Portugal, and the fleet will be just as competitive, with nothing taken for granted until the final race of the week.
Boys and Girls Windsurfing - Mistral
With Bulgaria's Olympic representative in the form of Vesselin NANEV making a bid for victory in the boys fleet here in Gdynia, the form book could be re-written. The fleet size of 21 competitors includes five from last year.
The fleet is wide open, with the majority of the top competitors moving on because of their age, the story is to be continued with a new breed of young athletes, ready and waiting to fight for that medal. It includes 17 year old New Zealand sailor Antonio COZZOLINO, who was leading the last race of the 2003 ISAF World Championship in the class, before coming a cropper on the final leeward mark and eventually finishing 28.
In the girl's fleet, the legendary Zofia KLEPAKA (POL), already with three Gold medals under her belt, will be hoping to emulate Chris DICKSON's and Sally CUTHBERT'S record of four Gold medals. This will be a fantastic confidence boost to her before she represents Poland at the Olympic Games in Athens a few weeks later.
Multihull Open - Hobie 16
Used as an optional event at previous Youth Worlds, the last time a multihull event took place was in France in 2001, but from 2004 onwards the Multihull Open event is mandatory on the event programme. This year, eleven nations are represented by two person teams in Poland.
Competitors start to arrive at the venue in Poland tomorrow, with a couple of days reserved for boat allocation, measurement, and practice. Racing starts for real on Saturday and continues until the following Thursday, with the scheduled lay-day on Wednesday.
The full entry list is available on the ISAF website by following the link below. Full information and daily reports will be released each day of the competition on the Championship website and on the ISAF website.
Poland's Olympic hero Mateusz KUSZNIEREWICZ will be at Gydnia during the Championship, taking a brief break from his training in the final weeks to the 2004 Olympic Sailing Competition.
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