Jorge Zarif won Brazilian Sportsman of the Year 2013 after a spectacular year of sailing. Zarif won gold at the Finn Junior World Championships as well as taking gold with a day to spare at the prestigious Finn Gold Cup.
Zarif's career started, like many sailors, back at the ISAF Youth Worlds. He attended the 2008 Youth Worlds in Aarhus, Denmark where he finished eighth in the Laser class and first experienced the world of professional sailing which he now thrives in.
"When I went to the Youth Worlds I saw the international experience. I saw what a little bit more professional sailors,"
Currently ranked World #8 in the Finn, Zarif is one to watch over the next few years in the build-up to Rio 2016 where he hopes to represent Brazil on home waters. However he has not always been ranked so high, a top finish at the Youth Worlds helped him learn how to lead a fleet, experience he still uses to this day.
"It's really important because when you are young and sailing an Olympic class, normally you don't get good results. I was 15 in 2008 and I was like #80 in the Laser so fighting for a good position in the top ten was a different experience."
The Youth Worlds showed Zarif that he was near the top of his age group and if he continued to work hard he would make it to the top of the fleet.
"You feel more motivated to keep sailing. When you are young and not in the top 20 or 30 you ask yourself, will I be on top one day? And then when you sail against young people you can see that if you work hard you'll be there."
As well as competing at ISAF Sailing World Cup events and winning World Championships, Zarif represented Brazil at the 2012 London Olympic Games Sailing Competition at only 19 years of age. Although not finishing at the top of the table this time he is already looking forward to the next three Olympic Games, while racing against his fellow Youth Worlds companions.
"It was nice because I got to use it to sail in good positions against people I would be sailing against in 2016, 2020 and 2024 and it was really nice."
Zarif is next in action at the 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships in Santander where he will be looking to defend his Finn Gold Cup title.
ISAF Youth Worlds Website