The 2007 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship gets underway tomorrow. Here's the line-up 11/7/07

The 2007 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship gets underway tomorrow (Thursday 12 July), with over 220 young sailor from 50 nations lining up in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. The 37th ISAF Youth Worlds looks set to be one of the closely contested ever, with the battle for medals wide open.

Only one of the Youth World Champions from Weymouth is racing in Canada this year, with the other competitors all having past the age limit. Richard GLOVER (GBR) crewed for Tom Phipps (GBR) in Great Britain’s gold medal winning team in the Hobie 16, but this time out Glover will be steering the boat. Having competed in three Youth Worlds, winning two golds and a silver, Phipps has now graduated to the senior circuit and is competing in the Tornado fleet at the ISAF Sailing World Championships in Cascais, Portugal. This leaves 18-year-old Glover at the helm of the British Hobie 16, together with his younger brother Andrew Glover, aged 15. The Australian team should be amongst their leading challengers, with Jason Waterhouse, fourth in 2006, teaming up with Michael McCormick.

29er Challenge
The 29er is the equipment for this year’s Two Person Dinghy events – the second time the skiff has been used at the Youth Worlds. Last time out was in Lunenburg, Canada in 2002 and Australia and New Zealand won four of the six medals. Amongst the favourites in the girls fleet this time round are Hannah Nattrass and Michelle Muller (AUS), who overcame 2006 Youth World Champions Belinda Kerl and Chelsea Hall (AUS) in the Australian Youth Championship to get selected for the Aussie team.

Sophie Weguelin and Sophie Ainsworth (GBR) finished in 12th place in Weymouth, but have since been focussing hard on their 29er sailing. The British pair finished 8th overall and top women’s crew at the 29er Worlds in Argentina in January and were again top women at the recent Kiel Week.

Seventy-one 29ers competed at Kiel, including several of the boys teams that will line up in Kingston. Poland’s Lukasz Przybytek and Krzysztof Mongrid were second overall and the top finishers of the Youth Worlds contingent. Again expect the Oceanic challenge to be strong, especially from the Kiwi team of Paul Snow-Hansen and Blair Tuke (NZL). Snow-Hansen, aged 17, finished runner up at the Optimist Worlds in 2004, whilst Tuke won the 2006 Splash Worlds.

Laser Fleets
Competition is always tight in the two single-handed fleets. Gabrielle King (AUS) placed fifth in the Laser Radial fleet at Weymouth last year, whilst still only 15. She returns to the Youth Worlds this year and has already demonstrated how much she has progressed in 12 months, placing fourth at the Australian Laser Championships this year, compared with the 15th she posted in 2005.

Isabella Bertold (CAN) from the host nation is also a name to watch. At just 16 years old she is the youngest member of the Canadian national sailing team ever and has already posted some impressive results at senior level. Likewise Spain’s Susana Romero has also had an impact at some of the top European regattas this year.

Canada has won gold in the Laser in 2006 and Kingston native Robert DAVIS (CAN) will be aiming to repeat the feat for the host nation this year. Joaquin Blanco Albalat (ESP), the 2005 Laser 4.7 World Champion, is another strong challenger. Cyprus’ Pavlos Kontides, who finished seventh in Weymouth, is the top performer from the 2006 Youth Worlds also competing in Canada. Pierre Collura (FIN), Leandro Altoaguirre (ARG) and Jeemin Ha (KOR) also all finished in the top 10 last year.

RS:X Fleets
In the Boys’ RS:X fleet, Pierre Le Coq (FRA) will be aiming to complete the set of Youth Worlds medals after picking up a silver in 2005 and bronze last year in Weymouth. Richard Hamilton (GBR), fifth last year, will be leading the challenge against him. Amongst the girls, Hong Kong’s Hei Man Chan placed fifth last year. Despite an OCS in the opening race, Belarusian Tatsiana Khaladzinskaja was also amongst the top finishers in Weymouth and should be a strong challenger again this year.