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Sixty Nations prepare for Volvo Youth Championship

by Helen King

Less than seven days remain until the start of the 2008 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship in Århus, Denmark on 10 July, with 252 talented young sailors aiming to make their mark on the world stage.
Sixty nations will be represented on the pristine Bay of Århus battling across seven events as well as the Volvo Trophy, which is awarded to the top-performing nation at the championship. After months of intense preparation, competitors can put behind them thoughts of training and qualification, school and exams, and focus solely on the world’s premier youth sailing event. For the on-looking sailing world, the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship provides not just the thrills, spills and drama of intense, high-level international competition, but also a first glimpse at the next generation of sailing stars.

Following the official arrival day and the practice race, the opening races of the 2008 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship are scheduled for a 12:00 start on Saturday 12 July. The competition continues over the following six days with the final races to decide the 2008 titles on Friday 18 July. Racing is run to the highest international standards, with an International Jury chaired by ISAF International Judge Bill O’HARA (IRL) ensuring fair play, and three International Race Officers working alongside the officials on the water.

Brand new Laser, Laser Radial (from Performance Sailcraft) and International 29er dinghies (Ovington Boats in cooperation with Børresen Boats), SL 16 multihulls (Sirena Voile in cooperation with Børresen Boats) and RS:X windsurfers (NeilPryde International in cooperation with NeilPryde Scandinavia A/S) lie sparkling in the boat park, having been supplied directly from the manufacturers to ensure a completely level playing field for the competitors. As the final parts of the jigsaw fall into place, the Organising Committee, Sailing Aarhus, is eagerly awaiting the arrival of all the teams and the start of competition.

Event director Thomas Capitani Nielsen said, ‘we are looking forward to starting, right now a team of 250 volunteers are working day and night to prepare the event, This includes the assembly of 200 dinghies and boards and preparing the dinghy park, Many teams have already arrived, Singapore, USA, Canada and 10 others are already practicing on the Bay of Århus, the weather is great, sunny and 27 degrees. Next week the temperature will drop and we expect more wind, so we are confident that we will host a successful event’.

Ahead of the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition in Qingdao this August, the stature of the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship has never been higher. Since the inaugural championship, where 16 nations competed at Angelholm, Sweden in 1971, the event has never stopped growing and throughout its 38-year history has proved a breeding ground for some of the very greatest stars of the sailing world. Over the past 10 years the championship has visited Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania and North America, averaging well over 40 nations represented at each venue. The introduction of the ISAF Athlete Participation Programme in 2003 has boosted national participation even further, with an average of 55 nations competing over the last five championships, whilst next year, Buzios, Brazil will be the first South American country to host the Youth Worlds.

The roll call of Youth World medallists is equally impressive: whether it is three-time America’s Cup winner Russell Coutts (NZL); numerous Olympic stars including multiple medallists Ben Ainslie (GBR), Robert Scheidt (BRA) and Alessandra Sensini (ITA); or offshore experts like Volvo Ocean Race winner Richard Clarke (CAN) – the championship has them all.

ISAF President Göran Petersson will open the 2008 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship and is looking forward to the start of competition. ‘Every year the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship goes from strength to strength, and every year I am more impressed by the talent and the level of skill on show. Århus is a dynamic, youthful and exciting city with a passion for world class sporting events and will be fantastic hosts for this year’s championship. I wish the organisers, volunteers, coaches and most of all the competitors, the best of luck in making 2008 a memorable event,’ he said.

Seven titles are up for grabs in the following events:

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

In addition, all participating nations will compete for the award for the best-national performance at the championship, the Volvo Trophy.

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Tags: 2008 Youth World Championships