Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship officially opens Weymouth 14/7/06

The Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship was officially opened yesterday at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy. Over 280 competitors from 63 nations, helped to celebrate the beginning of an event that will see the world’s best young sailors, crowned as youth champions next Thursday.

The evening’s festivities kicked off as large crowds gathered on Weymouth seafront to watch the 63 competing teams parade with their national flags, led by 500 local school children.

The sailors were welcomed by several key speakers including Rod Carr, OBE, Chief Executive of the Royal Yachting Association. Carr commenting, said: “As an organisation we are thrilled to host and organise the 2006 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship, and proud that the UK has attracted a record number of nations to these championships. It is an honour to have sailors from around the world gather in Great Britain to compete in this, the most important world youth event.”

After the raising of the ISAF flag another event tradition was honoured; the ‘mixing of the waters’ ceremony. This traditional ceremony started some years ago with each team bringing waters from their native lakes, rivers and seas, which are then mixed together. A team member from each country was welcomed on stage to pour their bit of water, carried through the parade in a piece of carved Portland stone, into a silver bowl.

As the water comes together, the hope is that there will be peace and friendship between all sailors at this event and also the hope that everyone will compete over the next week in the same spirit.

Once the water was combined, the youngest boy and girl competitors at the event Sarah Berry, 13, representing New Zealand in the 420 and Hobie 16 crew Kyler Hast, 14, from the United States carried the water out of the Weymouth Pavilion and poured the contents into the sea.

RS:X sailor Alvaro Galdos, 18, of Peru, the oldest competitor at the event and part of ISAF’s Athlete Participation Programme, then provided a countdown in Spanish before setting off a fantastic firework display.

With the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship officially open, sailors will now focus on the tough competition expected in the week to come, with first official race due today – Friday 14 June 2006 – with the event concluding on Thursday 20 June.