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7 April 2008, 09:28 am
Youth Champs Make The Step Up
Tom SLINGSBY at the 2002 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship
Tom SLINGSBY, now a double World Champion, competing for Australia at the 2002 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship

Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship 2008
Aarhus, Denmark

When this year's Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship kicks into action in Århus, Denmark in July, the sailing world will likely get its first glimpse of many future stars, as a quick review of this year's Olympic Class World Champions reveals.
With the clock ticking down to the Beijing Olympic Games, the start of 2008 has brought with it a rapid succession of World Championship events in the Olympic Classes, and the resulting list of World Champions presents a remarkable illustration of talent fostered at the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship. The world's premier youth sailing event has always been looked upon as a breeding-ground for the sailing stars of the future and with a quick analysis of current trends it's clear to see this is a reputation well earned.

Of the ten teams that have so far claimed World Championship victory in 2008, only one fails to count an ISAF Youth World appearance on their sailing resume. Between them, these ten crews boost an incredible Youth World Championship haul of eight gold, two silver and three bronze medals. If you include the 2007 Star Worlds Champions on the list (the 2008 Star World Championship has not yet taken place) the tally increases to nine gold's thanks to Robert SCHEIDT's (BRA) contribution.

"Time and time again we've seen the top performers from the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship go on to reach the very highest levels of achievement in the sailing world, whether it is the Olympic Games, the Volvo Ocean Race or the America's Cup," said Fiona KIDD, chair of the ISAF Youth World Championship Sub-Committee. "What's really encouraging is that in recent years we've seen several new nations - for example Guatemala, Singapore and most recently Cyprus - step onto the Youth World podium for the first time."

What is also remarkable about the list of 2008 World Champs/Youth World medallists is the spread of sailors across all age ranges. Whether it was the 1980s, the 1990s or the 2000s, the Youth World Champions of the era have all gone on to succeed at the highest level. There are the veterans like Britain's Ben AINSLIE and Alessandra SENSINI from Italy, who showcased their talent at the Youth Worlds before going on to become multiple Olympic medallists. And then there are the young guns; Nathan OUTTERIDGE (AUS), Pippa WILSON (GBR) and Sarah STEYAERT (FRA) all lifted World Championship trophies in 2008 and all won medals at the 2004 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship in Gdynia.

Will the trend be repeated in four years' time with the stars of this year's Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship lining up to compete at the London Olympic Games? Only time will tell, but without doubt, the opportunity to join the illustrious list of ISAF Youth World Champions and medallists is a great motivation amongst the youngsters currently preparing for the 2008 championship in Århus this July.

"It was an inspiration that I had the chance to join the list of names of Youth World medallists," says 17 year old Sarah GUNNI of Denmark, who last year won the bronze medal in the girls' one person dinghy Laser Radial event. "It's the best event I've ever been at. It's a real experience to be at an event with just one sailor from each country per class, so many different sailors and without parents!"

GUNNI, who has since gone on to win the bronze medal at the Laser Radial class Youth World Championship in New Zealand, also explains that success at the Youth Worlds can provide a real boost to a young sailing career. "It's easier to get a sponsor and get recognised when you have a medal. It also gives you a lot of confidence in yourself and motivation to keep training and improving," she said.

So whilst today's stars continue their Olympic preparations, GUNNI's focus is firmly on the Danish selection trials in May/June where she'll be aiming to win the right to represent her nation on home waters at the 2008 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship. If that is achieved, another podium finish is the aim. It's a goal the likes of AINSLIE, SENSINI, OUTTERIDGE et al have all shared at some time, and if the form book is anything to go by, it's often the first step up the path towards sailing stardom.

Click here to take a look at some of the famous faces of the Youth Worlds, then and now.

Online Entry And Entry Deadline 15 April

Seven events will be contested at the 2008 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship (listed below). Alongside the individual events, the prestigious Volvo Trophy will be awarded to the top performing nation at the championship.

Online entry is now available on the championship website at www.youthworlds2008.org (Under 'Competitors', 'Registration'). All registration and entry forms, medical forms and payment instructions must be submitted by your ISAF Member National Authorities no later than 15 April 2008. More details can be found at the championship website or at the ISAF Youth Worlds microsite - www.sailing.org/youthworlds.

The seven events at the 2008 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship:

Boy's One Person Dinghy - Laser
Girl's One Person Dinghy - Laser Radial
Boy's Two Person Dinghy - 29er
Girl's Two Person Dinghy - 29er
Boy's Windsurfer - Neil Pryde RS:X with 8.5m2 sail & 60cm fin
Girl's Windsurfer - Neil Pryde RS:X with 8.5m2 sail & 60cm fin
Open Multihull - SL 16

Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship - www.youthworlds2008.org/
ISAF Youth Worlds microsite - www.sailing.org/youthworlds.

Helen King
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