Amongst the girls, Paige RAILEY (USA) will be appearing at her fourth ISAF Youth Worlds. Her greatest success came in 2003 when she won a closely fought contest against Krystal WEIR (AUS) to take the gold medal. Last year in Gdynia RAILEY was less successful and in Busan the American will be aiming to end her career at the ISAF Youth Worlds on a high note.
Given that the Laser Radial event at the Championship carries an ISAF Grade 2 rating, victory could see RAILEY claim the top spot in the next release of the ISAF World Sailing Rankings on 3 August. After winning the ISAF Grade 1 Miami OCR in USA at the start of the year and finishing second in the recent ISAF Grade 1 Kieler Woche in Kiel, Germany, RAILEY will enter the racing in Busan knowing she has what it takes to succeed at the highest level.
RAILEY is not the only girl who will be in Busan with experience of the senior circuit. Over a third of the Laser Radial entrants already have positions on the Rankings with Lucia REYES SANCHEZ (ESP), Janika PULS (GER), Tina MIHELIÆ (CRO) and Olivia POWRIE (NZL) all featuring in the top fifty.
The event also sees entrants from some of sailing's developing nations with Alyson MYERS from the Bahamas, Tania ZIMMERMAN from Peru and the Seychelles' Beth GERTRUDE all in Busan with funding from the ISAF Athlete Participation Programme (APP).
The two single-handed dinghy fleets this year share one common feature which is the absence of any medallists from 2004. Sarah STEYAERT (FRA), Jo ALEH (NZL) and Charlotte DOBSON (GBR) have all graduated to the senior circuit where they are already making an impact. Experience at past ISAF Youth Worlds in this year's Laser Radial fleet is relatively thin on the ground. Of the top five most successful nations in the single-handed dinghy girls event, the USA is the only one to send a sailor with past experience in the Laser Radial. PULS for Germany, Alison YOUNG for Great Britain and France's Vanessa LE BOUTEILLER are the three ISAF Youth World rookies who will be looking to continue their nations' excellent record in the event. New Zealand's POWRIE has competed in the last two ISAF Youth Worlds in the 420 but this year has taken on the challenge of the single-handed dinghy.
If anything the boys' event is even more open with only one of last year's top ten set to sail in Busan. New Zealand's Blair MCLAY has already built on his eighth place in Gdynia with some impressive performances in 2005 which have seen him rise to 47 in the World Rankings. Daniel JAKOBSSON (BRA) just missed out on a top ten place last year and is back for Brazil to try to better his twelfth place in Gdynia. Elsewhere the pattern is familiar to the one in the Laser Radial with successful nations like Australia, the USA, Great Britain and France all sending ISAF Youth Worlds debutants. Of these, France's Jean-Baptiste BERNAZ immediately catches the eye being the current Laser Radial Youth World Champion and the Byte World Champion, an honour he won recently in Italy. For Great Britain, Giles SCOTT will be aiming to retain the gold medal won by Nick THOMPSON last year. He is another of the competitors with experience on the senior circuit, his most impressive performance to date being a sixth place in the ISAF Grade 2 Princess Sofia Trophy in Palma de Mallorca earlier in the year.
|Moldova featured in the 2004
Laser competition and will
be on the starting line in Busan
© Peter Bentley
Asia is strongly represented with China, India, Japan, Korea and Singapore represented in the Laser fleet. All those nations bar India also have a sailor competing in the Laser Radial event, as do Malaysia. With a total of ten competitors across the two fleets, the Asian nations will be aiming for their first ever medals in the single-handed dinghy events.
All the signs point to a fascinating battle for this year's two single-handed dinghy titles. In the Laser Radial, RAILEY will start as a clear favourite, although after last year's seventh place, she will know that competition at the ISAF Youth Worlds is set to be just as tough as the competition she has found on this year's sailing tour. In the boys' event the fleet looks wide open with Byte World Champion, BERNAZ and New Zealand's MCLAY noted as names to look out for. As ever the large number of entrants also means some of sailing's smaller nations have the chance to shine and in a year of so many new faces, 2005 could well be their time to grab the headlines.