2014 is a whole different scenario. They are world ranked #23 and have dominated the 470 Junior Championships. Gold at the 470 Junior Worlds in Italy, marked a repeat of their 2013 success. Gold again at the 470 Junior Europeans in Poland sealed 2014 as a career best year for the pair. Sandwiched between these two Championships they matched up against the senior 470 fleet at the 470 Europeans in Athens, Greece, finishing a more than respectable 40th.
With success at the 470 Junior Worlds and Junior Europeans done and dusted, it is now all about the 470 Worlds, as Xammar explains,
"This is the first World Championship that we are totally focused on. Last year in La Rochelle, we were focused on the Junior Worlds. So this is effectively a bit like our first Championship. We are really prepared and ready to compete.
"Yesterday we went to the Opening Ceremony and it was amazing, all the people of the city. We have sailed this summer a lot with the junior fleets and they have been good Championships for us, but now it is time to sail with the senior fleet of the class. Let's see where we are with them."
The pair have been training a lot in Santander, in between their other Championship commitments, so feel familiar with the likely conditions they will face.
"The conditions here are really good, you can have big waves, then you can have also flat water, big wind, medium wind, light wind. You can have all conditions, so you have to be ready. I think it is not going to be a Championship for heavyweight or lightweight crews, because you are going to have all the conditions. It is going to be a Championship for all-round sailors. We are going to try and do our best and let's see if we can make a surprise."
Awestruck by the home support at the Opening Ceremony on Thursday evening, they recognize the importance of national pride in spurring them on.
"It is a motivation for sure. Yesterday at the Opening Ceremony 30,000 people were there and I can imagine competing in a medal race and what it would be like. We are not ready for a medal race in the senior fleet yet, but I think a lot of the Spanish Olympic team are ready for it, so they will enjoy the fans a lot. In sailing we are not used to having the public, so this Championship with a big audience is really nice. All the sailors have to say thanks to the city for enabling fans to visit us."
The medal races will all take place on the Duna Course, which is located right adjacent to the so-named Dune spectator area, a vast elevated seated and standing viewpoint above the race course. With capacity for several thousand fans, the spectator participation will be massive come medal race day.
Xammar is realistic on their chances of making the top 10 who will advance to the Medal Race come Saturday 20 September. The fleet is simply the world's best and competition is going to be exceptionally tough.
"Making the top 10 will be hard. If you see the age of the top 10 in the 470, the sailors are all over about 26, so for us we are 20 years old and still juniors. Our goal doesn't have to be the medal race. Our goal is to learn and try to do our best. In World Cup events we have been close to being in the medal race, but we have not done it before. At this World Championship it will be even more difficult. We will do our best and let's see if we have a bit of luck also."
Whilst 2014 marks the team's best year in the 470 so far, their pedigree has been an upwards curve, since first partnering up in the 420. Xammar is a two-time ISAF Youth World Champion, winning gold in 2010 with current crew Joan Herp, and his second gold in 2011 with Alex Claville. Herp couldn't race at the ISAF Youths in 2011 as he was too old. They were also the top placed junior team at the 2011 420 Worlds in Argentina.
At the 470 Junior Worlds and 470 Junior Europeans, the Xammar/Herp partnership are heroes for many of the other younger teams. Role reversal here at the ISAF Worlds in Santander as Xammar/Herp are relishing being in the boat park and on the water with their heroes.
"We did the tune-up race and we were sailing sometimes in front of the world's best teams. To be sailing with Mat Belcher and Will Ryan is amazing. For us, to be able to sail with them and all the other top 10 sailors is amazing. It is just amazing, they have so much experience and they are the best sailors in the world. To sail with them is a pleasure for us 20 year old guys who are on their second year in the 470 Class."
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Schedule of Racing:
12-18 September, Laser and Laser Radial
13-19 September, RS:X Men and RS:X Women
14-20 September, 470 Men and 470 Women
15-21 September, 49er, 49erFX, Finn and Nacra 17
Live Blog - A live blog will follow the ISAF Worlds from Thursday 11 September through to Sunday 21 September. The live blog is available here http://www.sailing.org/events/isafworlds/live-blog.php
Results will be available when racing commences on Friday 12 September here.
Santander 2014 ISAF Worlds Event Website
Santander 2014 ISAF Microsite