As well as being the world's premier youth sailing event, the 2008 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship is also a fantastic education opportunity and not just for the competitors.
The Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship presents a unique challenge as it brings together so many young sailors from a wide spread of nations, many of whom are competing at an international regatta for the first time. As well as learning from their fellow competitors and getting the benefit of advice and video debriefing from the World Youth Sailing Trust coach Jim SALTONSTALL, the Youth Worlds is also an invaluable education in several other areas.
Helmut CZASNY, ISAF Technical Delegate responsible for the overall running of the event, expands on educational role of the Youth Worlds, "You can see this event as the first event on their path towards the Olympic Games which means we have to show them how a top-level event works. This means we try to avoid any socialising of officials with the competitors and with the national team, especially their own team. We limit access to the venue. Only a certain number of team officials are allowed. We make sure everyone has the same equipment no matter where they come from or how wealthy their country or their federation is."
With a full ISAF International Jury and three International Race Officers appointed as course representatives on the Race Management team, competitors know racing is going to be held to the highest standards. As well as ensuring fair play on and off the water, the International Race Officer team at the Youth Worlds also take a proactive approach to ensuring the young sailors get the most out of their experience in Århus. Chair of the International Jury, Bill O'HARA (IRL), explains, "We see our education role as important as part of the event. We apply the rules to exactly the same standard, but we try to make more effort to explain it to the sailors. In a senior event we'd normally ask for the sailors to come and ask us before further explanation but here we would actually go and find the sailor and have a chat with him."
Before competition started, International Judge and US SAILING's National Race Officer Sandy Grosvenor (USA) hosted a Rule 42 briefing for all of the competitors. It's an area ISAF has worked hard on over recent years to create a greater common understanding between sailors, coaches and Judges. O'HARA has spent the last three years travelling to the world's leading regattas as ISAF's Rule 42 Advisor, hosting workshops to make sure competitors have a full understanding of the propulsion rules. The briefing at the Youth Worlds followed a similar model, making the sailors and coaches fully aware of the standards the Jury will be applying during the championship.
O'HARA explains that the composition of the Race Officials team is also designed to maximize the educational aspect of the championship, "We've six people appointed by ISAF to be on the International Jury and then we have two local people. One's actually an International Judge and one's a National Judge. We're trying to give them exposure to this level of event and we include them in everything except for actually making decisions at protest hearings. But they're on the water as observers and they're observers in the protest room,"
The team also includes an International Judge from Brazil, next year's hosts of the championship, to ensure an affective transfer of knowledge from event to event. Following this theme, there are key figures from the event organizers of the next three editions of the Youth Worlds (in Buzios, Brazil; Istanbul, Turkey; and Zadar, Croatia in 2009, 2010 and 2011 respectively) all in attendance at this year's Championship, getting valuable first-hand experience from the event.
The Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship is the 38th edition of the championship, making it by far ISAF's longest running event. With 245 competitors from 58 nations, the 2008 Youth Worlds is the second largest ever and demonstrates the continued growth and success of the championship. ISAF is working in partnership with the organizers, officials, future hosts, competitors and coaches, with the support of the Volvo Ocean Race as title sponsor, to ensure the success of the Youth Worlds is maximized at every level and that the championship continues on its current path of growth and success.
Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship microsite - www.sailing.org/youthworlds
ISAF Athlete Participation Programme - www.sailing.org/app