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12 July 2009, 05:56 pm
Heavy Weather Brings Chance For Reflection At Youth Worlds
(l-r) Kahena KUNZE and Martine GRAEL of Brazil
Friendship and teamwork were major themes of the first post-race debriefing

Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship 2009
Buzios, Brazil

Today's cancelled racing at the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship gave all of the competitors to follow up on the key piece of wisdom imparted by ISAF Coach Santi LANGE at the first of his post-race debriefings held last night.
Dealing with the frustration brought on by the weather conditions was one of many topics address by ISAF Coach Santiago LANGE (ARG) at his post-race debriefing held in Buzios last night. Hundreds of competitors crowded into a packed conference hall as LANGE gave his first presentation since taking over the role from Jim SALTONSTALL (GBR). With two Olympic medals, experience racing on Telefonica Black in the Volvo Ocean Race and Victory Challenge in the America's Cup, Lange is one of South America's sailing stars and received a rousing reception from the young crowd.

In his role as ISAF Coach, LANGE acts a coach to the sailors attending the Championship thanks to funding from ISAF's Athlete Participation Programme (APP), but is also available to assist any sailor and hosts daily post-race briefing that are open to all. Last night, LANGE's briefing focussed on the Laser races of that day. However, as it was his first-ever debriefing at the Youth Worlds, before getting underway he gave an introduction based around one particular feature that he has found indispensible throughout his sailing career.

Friendship is perhaps not often an item people consider to be at the top of the list of requirements for sporting success, but for LANGE it has formed the foundations of his life in sailing. "Coming from Argentina, 30 years ago when their were a lot of good sailors coming from the Optimist class but not much money to support them, I always relied on the help of friends I have made through sailing," he explained. "This has continued throughout my life in sailing. Through the help others, by helping others, friendships have formed a crucial part of my success in sailing."

LANGE used several examples from his own career to illustrate his point. After scoring a surprise victory in the qualification event, he attended his first of five Olympic Games (to date) in the Soling class in 1988, with a borrowed boat and sails. More recently, after the Sydney Games, he and crew Carlos ESPINOLA decided to form a partnership with the Austrian crew of Roman HAGARA and Hans Peter STEINACHER (gold medallists in 2000). The two teams worked side-by-side over the next eight years, sharing every insight, technique and tuning. Over two Olympic cycles this unique co-operation brought great rewards; a second gold medal for HAGARA and STEINACHER at Athens and bronze for LANGE and ESPINOLA in both 2004 and at Beijing last year.

"As great an achievement as the Olympic Games are, it's this partnership, working so closely with somebody at such a high level, which will stay with me even longer," LANGE said. "At this championship you have an opportunity to meet new people from all around the world. It's a really valuable part of this championship, not just the competition by the friendships that you get out of it. They will help you learn just as much in the long term."

Century Of Nations

For the 23 APP sailors attending this year's championship, Lange will be a key figure. As ISAF Coach he carries out daily pre-race briefings with the sailors as well as a pre-championship briefing ahead of the practice race. This year sailors from 13 nations are at the Youth Worlds thanks to APP funding. That list includes Ireneu PLA PUIGSUBIRA of Andorra, Stewart WALKER and David THOMAS of Botswana, and Opeoluwa OJELABI and Hellen AKPAN of Nigeria, all of whom are the first-ever representatives of their nation at the championship. Their attendance is particularly significant this year as the participation of these sailors means the Youth Worlds achieves a century of nations, with 102 countries now having competed since the first edition held back in 1971.

For Andorra's PLA, Buzios presents a great opportunity for making some friends who share his passion, as he says everyone he knows back home are skiers not sailors. He started out sailing whilst on holiday and the passion grew and he now tries to train with the Spanish team as he seeks to improve. As well as competing at the Youth Worlds, he also be taking part in the Laser 4.7 World Championship held in Buzio in early August. Whilst he says he was a little too light for the strong winds of day one, he's looking forward to the rest of the championship, "The event is wonderful. There's plenty of wonderful people to meet. I'm really enjoying it," he says.

For the APP sailors and the rest of the competitors, tonight offers the chance for plenty of rest and recovery, and without any racing, LANGE will use his debriefing to discuss some of the lesson's he's learnt from his experiences at the Olympic Games and most recently in the Volvo Ocean Race.

The first of tomorrow's races are scheduled to get underway at 12:00 local time (15:00 UTC).

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