A new generation of youth sailors from all over the world is preparing for the 470 Class Junior World Championships for Men/Mixed and Women, taking place from 10 -18 July in Thessaloniki, Greece. Racing starts on Monday, and will continue until the 18 July, where the final medal race will decide the new Junior World Champions in each of the mens/mixed and womens events.
54 crews are entered for the mens/mixed event, and 25 for the women. The separate fleets at the 470 Junior World Championships was introduced for the first tie in 2008, and with the ongoing growth in the fleets, the fleet separation has continued.
"We have noticed an increasing number of under 22 years old sailors participating in our Junior Championships over the past few years, especially women."
said International 470 Class President, Stanislav Kassarov. "The number of women's entries is sufficient for a separate event, and that is the simple reason we have one. Other reasons are that we see sailors performing at higher levels at an early age and we want to prepare them better for what they are ultimately aiming for; reaching the Olympic stage. Over the past year, a lot of the top performing crews have passed the Junior age limit of 21 and are now participating in the senior events, with some of them showing potential for an Olympic campaign in 2012 and 2016. We are happy that although many crews have moved on from the Junior fleet, purely because of the age limits, we equally are welcoming many new names on the entry list from countries all over the world. The 470 class wants to maintain and expand global competition."
Kassarov continued to say.
Last year's gold medalists in the men's 470, Steven LE FEVRE
and Steven KROL
(NED), having celebrated their 21st birthdays, leave the Championship title open to an impressive number of crews, many whom were contesting close battles in last year's Junior Championships.
has teamed up with Ayal HAMBURGER
to represent Israel. LAVIE participated in last year's Junior events with Yam AMIR
, and won the silver medal at the Junior Worlds.
For luca DUBBINI
and Roberto DUBBINI
, Sofian Bouvet
and Jeremie MION
took a fifth and fourth at the Junior Europeans and Worlds respectively. Victor BERGSTR?M
and Marcus DACKHAMMAR
(SWE) finished fifth at last year's Junior Worlds and are likely to occupy a top ten spot.
A fierce competition has been established amongst the new talents in the women's fleet over the last two years, and has now come to a situation where Tara PACHECO
and Berta BETANZOS
(ESP) have their last chance to claim a place on the Women's Junior Worlds Title, as they will be over 21 next year. Having secured the silver place last year, they stand ready to take over the gold medal position from Hannah MILLS
and Katrina HUGHES
(GBR) who claimed victory at last year's 470 Junior World Championship. and
MILLS and HUGHES (GBR), who picked up their first gold medal at the Women's Junior Europeans in 2007, will not be participating. Their absence, is not an automatic entry for the Spanish team, as PACHECO and BETANZOS have been significantly increasing their successes, with their silver medal at last month's 470 European Championships marking the highlight in their career.
"Of course we would like to take revenge here and now, but our objective is 2012. We race each other at many events, which will include the 470 Worlds next month."
PACHECO said. "However, we don't want to leave this venue [Thessaloniki] without the Championship title,"
both girls added smiling.
Still, the Spanish women will need to be aware of the strong competition, especially from Germany's Annika BOCHMANN
and Anika LORENZ
and Tina LUTZ
and Susann BEUCKE
. These sailors, who are all relatively young, from 18 to 19, have achieved similar results in the 470 as those secured in the 420 - always towards the front of the fleet. BOCHMAN and LORENZ won their first gold medal at the women's 470 Junior Europeans last year.
The host country, Greece, is strongly represented in the Championship with eight men's and four women's crews.
470 Class veteran Andreas KOSMATOPOULOS
, who has represented Greece at the Olympic Games five times in the 470, and has been running a 470 Clinic prior to the 470 Junior Worlds, commented, " A Junior World Championship has an enormous value for young sailors with Olympic aspirations. Of course one can participate at a young age at regional and international regattas, but a Junior Worlds or Europeans is the first event where you represent your country. The performance level of sailing is high, because all countries around the world send their best under 22 years old sailors to this event. Young sailors that participate in Junior Events, will meet over again, again, and again. Those who have the talent, discipline and strength to go on, will finally meet at the Olympics. I participated in the Junior Worlds in '87 and placed 15th. It was a perfect result for Greece in those days. Today, I met an old friend who also participated in that same event in '87. It was ANTONAZ, who represented Yugoslavia in those days. He used to be the Juniors' hero. He is here now coaching the Italian team. "
Racing was scheduled to get underway on Sunday 12 July at 1300 hours local time. However strong winds, with gusts up to 36 knots coming from the local north-west wind the Vardari, kept the sailors ashore.