Lay day inspires sailors at the Youth Worlds 18/7/06

Bright sunshine, warm temperatures and a festive atmosphere met sailors attending the lay day at the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship. With little wind blowing across the Weymouth and Portland waters, competitors were met with a host of activities with which to fill their day.

Lay day activities started on Sunday night with a barbeque and a Holt Blow Boat Challenge. Competitors built model boats to their own designs and raced in time trials to determine the winner. Greek windsurfer Ioannis Giakas won the event with his boat completing the course in under two seconds.

Monday saw a day of activity designed to inspire the young sailors. Event organiser and RYA Competitions Manager, Rob Andrews welcomed the international competitors to the lay day which marks the half-way point in the event.

First on the programme was current FICO and IMOCA World Champion sailor Mike Golding, who attended with his newly refitted Open 60 ECOVER. Mike spoke to the young sailors about the ins and outs of Open 60 sailing.

As an ambassador to the RYA/BMF environmental initiative, The Green Blue, Golding also took time to spread an environmental message about how sailors can help keep their playground clean, which has also been a focus at this 36th edition of the Youth Worlds.

“As a sailor you get to experience the power of the sea and the environment we live in. It’s so important to protect what we have by picking up litter, cleaning up spilt oil, recycling and using environmentally friendly products.”

Following his talk, Golding then opened his boat up for tours, allowing competitors and event volunteers to get a feel for his Open 60.

Team Basilica, with their Volvo Extreme 40, also welcomed competitors to tour their catamaran. Recently back from winning a silver medal at the Volvo Extreme 40 World Series, which was competed for at five of the Volvo Ocean Race stopovers, Team Basilica were keen to give sailors a taste of non-Olympic sailing.

“There is more to sailing that just the Olympics.” Skipper James Grant explained. “Competing in an event like this will help prepare sailors for other sailing careers such as the America’s Cup, Volvo Ocean Race and catamaran sailing and it’s great to be down here showing them the opportunities.”

Following a prize draw several sailors and volunteers got to go out for a sail on ECOVER and Team Basilica.

Gregory Douglas from Barbados stepped off Basilica, grinning from ear to ear. “It was great. Going upwind on one hull was such good fun,” said Douglas, who’s funded to compete here in Weymouth through the International Sailing Federation’s Athlete Participation Programme.

“I never would have had the chance to do something like this at home. This has been the best lay day I’ve ever been to.”

While competitors took a day off from on-the-water racing, it didn’t stop them from competing in other ways. A dynamic Laser RC (remote control) tournament took place with many sailors signing up to take part in the knock out event. Israel’s Moshe Apel, who is competing in the boy’s 420, was crowned top dog of the championship and will take home his very own Laser RC.

The lure of competition was too much for the professional sailors, and Mike Golding, Olympic bronze medallist Nick Dempsey and Team Basilica battled it out on the course just off the WPNSA pontoon. Dempsey, the underdog in the competition, took the glory.

Dempsey was also on hand in the afternoon to speak to sailors about what it takes to campaign, from youth classes all the way through to the Olympic Games. Dempsey, a member of Skandia Team GBR, is currently campaigning for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Dempsey had several pieces of advice on the Youth Worlds to offer the sailors. “When you come to international events, you might think that you have to do something different to win, but you don’t. Keep everything simple, keep the routines that you have while training and you will see the results materialise.”

Laser sailor Ajay Rau, the only sailor at the event representing India, was impressed with the advice that Dempsey had to offer. “He said that if you have the will to achieve and the desire to go to the Olympics then you can make it. That gives me hope and makes me happy.”

John Derbyshire, Racing Manager at the RYA, spoke with coaches and team leaders about GBR’s coaching set-up and on how the RYA select sailors to represent Great Britain on an international level.

To close the day’s activities, all eyes turned skyward and sailors and locals alike were wowed by a fantastic air display over Portland Harbour by the Royal Air Force’s Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows.

With the lay day done and dusted competitors will once again focus on the event in hand. Those just out of medal positions will be hoping for the wind to return after several races were abandoned on Sunday.

Event meteorologist Fiona Campbell was optimistic about the three remaining race days. “Weymouth certainly feels more like a Mediterranean venue this week with temperatures reaching 29ºC under clear blue sunny skies. Winds will continue to be light for the remainder of the event, ranging from three to nine knots, but the direction should be steady which should help the race committee lay a fair and good course so that we can get some races in.”