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7 July 2005, 10:50 pm
Windsurfer Boys And Windsurfer Girls
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Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship 2005
Busan, Korea

The two windsurfing events at the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship promise to offer racing of the very highest order when it gets underway next week in Busan, Korea.
The name of Mistral World Champion, Blanca MANCHON (ESP) springs from the entry list, although despite holding the World title, she is yet to win an ISAF Youth Worlds. MANCHON has both a silver and a bronze medal to her name but has been one of the many competitors to fall to the reign of four time ISAF Youth World Champion Zofia KLEPACKA (POL). However, with KLEPACKA's run at the Championship coming to an end with her fourth win on her home waters at Gdynia, Poland last year, everything looks perfectly set up for MANCHON to add the ISAF Youth World title to the World title she won at the ISAF Grade W Mistral World Championship earlier this year in Mondello, Italy.

Top Class Competition

However, MANCHON knows better than to expect an easy ride on Suyong Bay. Despite the loss of KLEPACKA, the Mistral girls fleet sees 13 sailors make up one of the strongest fleets ever at the ISAF Youth Worlds. Germany's Wiebke SRADNICK came fourth in Gdynia last year and will be looking to better that result this year. The young German is another precious talent and like MANCHON has had a fantastic 2005, finishing

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Many of the talents who
will be on show in Busan
have already proved themselves
at this year's Mistral Worlds
© Marcello Paternostro

sixth at the ISAF Grade 2 Princess Sofia Trophy in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, third at the ISAF Grade 1 Holland Regatta in Medemblik and fourth at the recent ISAF Grade 1 Kieler Woche in Kiel, Germany. Malgorzata BIALECKA (POL) is stepping into KLEPACKA formidable shoes as Poland's representative and she too sailed excellently in Kiel finishing tenth overall. She finished 23rd at the Mistral Worlds, and fifth in the Mistral European Youth Championship.

Anne Sophie LE PAGE (FRA) won the battle for honours behind KLEPACKA last year and returns knowing she has already beaten many of the rivals who will be lining up to face her. She and SRADNICK were the only competitors to score a bullet besides KLEPACKA in last year's competition, although SRADNICK's win came in the final race when the Polish sailor did not compete. LE PAGE followed up her silver medal last year with third place at the Mistral Youth World Championship.

Israel's Maayan DAVIDOVICH came in fifth last year after an impressive second half of the series. 2004 also saw her finish eighth in the Mistral Youth Worlds and come 22nd in the Mistral Worlds in Mondello. Alisha KAWALLA (AUS) and Catarina FREITAS (BRA) also make a return to the ISAF Youth Worlds having finished eighth and eleventh respectively last year. The Italian windsurfing team have been one of the most consistent success stories at recent Championships and they return with sailors in both fleets.

Defending Champions Move On

The absence of KLEPACKA is mirrored in the boys' event as 2004 gold medallist, Kamil LEWANDOWSKI, is replaced in the Polish team by Lukasz GRODZICKI. Last year LEWANDOWSKI ran away with the series after scoring five bullets in a row. Thanks to a recent confidence boosting third place in Kiel, GRODZICKI will be in Busan hoping for a similar result. He and BIALECKA will also line up at the start on Suyong Bay knowing that no nation has won more Mistral gold medals than Poland.

Juan Manuel MORENO (ESP) could only manage 14th last year but has had some of the most impressive results of the men's fleet this year, finishing 21st at the Mistral Worlds and second at the European Youth Championship. Nimrod MASHIAH (ISR) also looks set to be at the forefront of the challenge for gold. The Israeli took silver last year after finishing second in the final race. However MORENO got the better of him in Mondello, with MASHIAH fourth in the European Youth Championship.

Australia have a great record in the Mistral events having won eight gold medals. Corey PLANT (AUS) will be aiming to add to that total by improving on his sixth place of last year. By contrast, the windsurfing events have been somewhat of a stumbling block for the British Youth team, with only one gold and four bronze medals won. This year Peter BIRD and Beth WILLIAMSON have the opportunity to start changing the record for the better.

The Asian Challenge

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Hong Kong may have led
the Asian challenge in the
ISAF Youth Worlds but
last year it was China who
secured the Olympic medal
© Clive Mason/Getty Images
Hong Kong has led the way for the Asian nations competing at the ISAF Youth Worlds, scoring their first medal back in 1998 in Cape Town, South Africa thanks to CHAN Wai Kei in the Mistral girls event. A year later HO Chi Ho earned Hong Kong and Asia their first gold medal in the Mistral boys. Bronze medals followed in the next three years, twice in the Mistral boys and once in the Mistral girls, before YU Wing Ho won a second gold medal for Hong Kong in Madiera, Portugal two years ago. Last year their six year medal winning run came to an end, a blip the Hong Kong windsurfing team in Korea will keen to put right.

They will not be presenting the only Asian challenge in Busan. Windsurfers from China, Japan and the home nation, Korea will be lining up in the Mistral boys fleet, whilst the entrants from China, Korea and Hong Kong mean almost a quarter of the Mistral girls' fleet will be representing an Asian nation.

The Old And The New

In only their sixth ever ISAF Youth Worlds appearance, the Seychelles will be represented in the Mistral boys fleet. Bulgaria also join the line up in the boys' event, in their fourth overall, and third straight time at the Championship. Also represented in the windsurfer boys are Cyprus, who are attending their third ISAF Youth Worlds. That is one less than Brazil's Fernando PASQUALIM who first raced the Mistral in Lunenberg, Canada in 2002. He has spent time training with Brazil's two time ISAF Youth Worlds Champion and 2004 Olympic Games fourth place finisher, Ricardo SANTOS (BRA), who has also given the benefit of his considerable experience to Brazil's Mistral girls' entrant, FREITAS.

The young windsurfers in Busan will also have the opportunity to sail the new Olympic windsurfing equipment, the Neil Pryde RS:X. As well as getting a chance to familiarize themselves with the new board, the ISAF Youth Worlds' windsurfers will also help provide rig evaluation and fill in a questionnaire on the board. The planned introduction of the RS:X at the ISAF Youth Worlds is for the 2006 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship in Weymouth, Great Britain.

The two Mistral fleets in Busan look set to provide some spectacular racing with one of windsurfing's hottest properties, MANCHON, aiming to win the ISAF Youth Worlds gold medal that has so far eluded her. In the men's fleet the competition appears wide open with a line up of experienced ISAF Youth Worlds' campaigners and Championship debutants making for an intriguing mix.

ISAF. Image, Spain's Mistral World Champion Blanca MANCHON looks set to be one of the stars in Busan:© MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images
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