In Weymouth in 2006, Italy made history by becoming only the fifth nation to lift the Volvo Trophy. 'It's a reward for all our efforts,' declared Italian coach, Filippo MARETTI. 'We are so happy for all of our sailing team and for the strength it will give sailing in Italy in the future.'
Inaugurated at the 1991 Youth Worlds in Largs and initially called the Nations Cup, the trophy is awarded to the best performing nation at the Youth Worlds. It was first won by France, a victory they have repeated on eight occasions since then.
Scores towards the Volvo Trophy standings are taken on a race-by-race basis from the top four performers across the seven events. Top ten race finishes translate into points: ten points for a first, nine for a second, all the way down to one point for a tenth place finish. After each race is completed across all seven events, a nation takes its four best scores and combines them to come up with their overall Volvo Trophy score for that race. With a potential 40 points up for grabs the standings can alter rapidly from one race to another, making the battle for the trophy one of the most exciting and keenly fought contests of the championship.
Whilst the individual awards might point more to the young stars of the future, the battle for national honours perhaps best typifies the spirit of the Youth Worlds. No matter where in the overall leaderboard a sailor lies, one outstanding performance can make a crucial difference to a nation's Volvo Trophy score.
Australia has won the Volvo Trophy on two occasions, in 1993 and 2003. It was amongst the leading challengers for the Trophy in 2006, eventually coming in third behind Italy and the host nation, Great Britain. Australian coach in Weymouth 'Bunny' WARREN explained the significance of the Trophy, 'For many people the Volvo Trophy is more important than medals in the individual fleets,'he said. 'It is a great motivator for the whole team as, although some sailors may not be in the running for the medals, they can still contribute to the team's score.'
In Canada the Australians will again be amongst the favourites for the Volvo Trophy, especially as the team has a number of crews returning for their second taste of Youth Worlds action. Even in the world of youth sailing, experience counts for a lot.
In contrast, trophy holders Italy will be missing the leading lights from its winning campaign in 2006. Laura LINARES (ITA) and Fabian HEIDEGGER (ITA), who won gold and silver medals respectively in the two windsurfer classes, both fall outside of the qualifying age for this Youth Worlds.
More than any other nation, Great Britain's Volvo Trophy success has been reflected on the Olympic stage. The winning team from 1995, christened the 'generation of ferrets' by coach Jim SALTONSTALL, included Ben AINSLIE (GBR), Nick ROGERS (GBR) and Sarah WEBB (GBR), who between them have gone on to win three gold and two silver medals at the Olympic Games. In 2006, the Brits finished second in the Volvo Trophy standings, but like Australia, they are bringing a lot of experienced Youth World sailors to Canada and look to have a very strong team.
Whilst Britain's Youth Worlds success has principally led to Olympic glory, New Zealand can probably claim the great number of champions across all of sailing's pinnacle events. Youth Worlds winners like Chris DICKSON (NZL), Russell COUTTS (NZL), Stuart BANNATYNE (NZL) and Dean BARKER (NZL) and more recently Dan SLATER (NZL) and Tom ASHLEY (NZL) have gone on to achieve success at the Olympic Games, America's Cup or in the Volvo Ocean Race.
With nine trophies in the cabinet, the French always start amongst the leading contenders. After winning the Volvo Trophy in 2005, the team finished a disappointing fifth in Weymouth, a result they will be looking to make amends for this year. The are one of seven nations sending a full quota of 10 sailors to Kingston. With big teams of six or more competitors coming from a further 13 nations, the battle for the 2007 Volvo Trophy looks set to be amongst the best yet.
The ISAF Youth World Championship is ISAF's longest running event, having taken place every year since the first Youth Worlds hosted by Sweden in 1971. The 37th Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship takes place from 12-21 July, sailed out of the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
2007 will be the eighth ISAF Youth Worlds to be sponsored by Volvo. Italy are the current holders of the Volvo Trophy, awarded annually to the top performing nation at the Youth Worlds.
Past notable winners include American's Cup skippers, Chris DICKSON (NZL) and Russell COUTTS (NZL), Volvo Ocean Race sailor Stuart BANNATYNE (NZL) and many Olympic Champions including Robert SCHEIDT (BRA), Ben AINSLIE (GBR) and Siren SUNDBY (NOR).
For the fifth year in a row the ISAF Athlete Participation Programme (APP) will assist young athletes from developing sailing nations attend the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship. Since its launch the APP has helped over 100 sailors attend the Championships, further spreading the appeal of youth sailing's premier event.
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