World Sailing Youth Championships – Langkawi will welcome a record number of male and female Laser Radial sailors for the 2015 Youth Sailing World Championships from 27 December to 3 January.
Historically, the Laser Radial is always the largest at the Youth Worlds and that trend doesn’t look like halting anytime soon with 69 boys and 57 girls registered to race in Malaysia, a championship best for both fleets.
Not only that, 2015 will be a record year for the Youth Worlds as a whole with more than 430 sailors from 80 nations registered to sail across nine fleets. The previous best number of nations was 67, set in at the 2014 event in Tavira, Portugal.
The 2014 Laser Radial Boys and Girls medallists have aged out of the Youth Worlds but there is a wealth of large scale event experience in Youth Olympic Games medallists, Laser Radial Youth Worlds medallists and sailors returning to make a second Youth Worlds appearance.
Hungary’s Maria Erdi will head into the event with a large number of regattas under her belt in 2015. Spearheading her year is victory at the 2015 Laser Radial Youth World Championships in Kingston, Canada. Erdi took six race wins from the ten race series as she improved on her silver medal at the 2014 edition in Poland.
Erdi’s year also includes gaining experience in the elite Sailing World Cup fleet in Weymouth and Portland, Great Britain as well as in larger fleets at EUROSAF regattas in the Netherlands, Italy and Spain. Alongside this, Erdi has also taken victories at the Izola Spring Cup and the Laser Europa Cup – Hungary.
Langkawi will be Erdi’s Youth Worlds debut but won’t be her first single nation entry event following an 11th in the Byte CII at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games in August, 2014.
Whilst many sailors competing at the Youth Worlds aspire to reach the Olympic Games, only a few make it straight out of youth sailing. Uruguay’s Dolores Moreira broke that mould and qualified her nation to Rio 2016 this year following her silver medal at the Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada, a regional qualification regatta for South and North America.
The Uruguayan has had a remarkable 18 months. Moving out of the Laser 4.7 she finished tenth at the 2014 Youth Worlds before heading to the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China where she placed ninth. Nanjing was plagued with light winds but when the breeze came in on the final day Moreira stormed her way to a convincing victory in the final race.
She narrowly missed out on Olympic qualification at the 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships but bounced back in July to book her Rio 2016 spot. A month later, she took second at the Laser Radial Youth World and is heading to Langkawi looking to deliver.
Of the top ten placed sailors from 2014, only Moreira and Poland’s Magdalena Kwasna return to the event. Kwasna completed the 2015 Laser Radial Youth Worlds podium behind Erdi and Moreira and will certainly be in the mix in Malaysia.
The Laser Radial Girls fleet also features a number of Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympians. Bronze medallist Jarian Brandes from Peru will be joined by Algeria’s Nouha El Alia Akil, Cecilia Wollman (BER), Florence Allan (CAY), Kelly Gonzalez (CHI), Louise Cervera (FRA), Hanna Brant (GBR), Paige Clarke (ISV), Paula Pelayo (MEX) and Caroline Rosmo (NOR).
The Laser Radial Boys fleet is set to be the biggest fleet in the history of the Youth Worlds with 69 sailors registered to participate.
Of the 2014 top 20, there are just four returnees. Alistair Young (AUS), Benjamin Wempe (NED), Oskari Muhonen (FIN) and Francisco Guaragna Rigonat (ARG) finished fifth, ninth, 17th and 20th respectively in Tavira, Portugal and each sailor will be gunning for an improvement in position as well as the podium.
Silver medallist at the 2015 Laser Radial Youth Worlds, Gianmarco Planchestainer (ITA) will be hotly fancied for a podium finish as will bronze medallist Nic Baird (USA). Baird is the son of the famous American match racer Ed Baird. Ed holds an America’s Cup victory as skipper and three World Sailing Match Racing World titles to his name. In addition he was crowned 2007 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year. Big shoes for the young Nic to fill but the Youth Worlds is where heroes are born and with a role model in his father, the journey to greatness could begin in Langkawi for Nic.
Bernie Chin of Singapore is the only other top ten sailor from the 2015 Laser Radial Youth Worlds fleet heading to Langkawi. Chin knows what it takes to be successful following victory at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games so it will be all to play for.
Joining Chin from the Youth Olympic Games is Paul de Souza (BAH), Pablo Bertran (CAY), Clemente Seguel (CHI), Joshua Ioane (COK), Ahmad Zainuddin (INA), Asri Azman (MAS) and Teariki Numa (PNG).
The Laser Radial Boys and Girls fleets also feature a number of sailors who are heading to the Youth Worlds thanks to their participation at the Youth Worlds Emerging Nations Program clinics. Sailors from the following nations have received support to develop their skills as well as attend the Youth Worlds:
Antigua, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Ecuador, US Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos, Trinidad and Tobago
Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Mozambique, Seychelles, Tanzania
Chinese Taipei, Pakistan, Kuwait, Sri Lanka
Czech Republic, Cyprus, Slovakia, Latvia, Hungary
Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Vanuatu
Sailors will start to arrive at the Langkawi venue on 27 December where they will receive the supplied equipment from Ovington, UpMarine, Nautivela, Sirena Voile, Neil Pryde and Laser Performance/Maclaren.
From there, the ceremony on 28 December will signal the start of the Youth Worlds before racing commences on 29 December. Racing will run through to Sunday 3 January with Friday 1 January a lay day for the sailors.
by Daniel Smith