Young guns recruited
Evans of Auckland and Burling of Tauranga earned entry into the YNZ Olympic Squad after placing sixth at the 470 European Championships just sailed in Thessaloniki, Greece. Yachting New Zealand’s Olympic Squad is reviewed annually and inclusion is based on performance at key international events.
“Carl and Peter's result at the Europeans is amazing,” says Leslie Egnot, Olympic Operations Manager.
“For such a young combination in their international 470 debut to finish sixth in a star studded fleet including previous world champions and Olympic medallists is fantastic. They both obviously have the talent to take them to great heights and I look forward to watching their progress.”
In addition, Evans and Burling will now join the New Zealand team to compete at the Olympic Test Event otherwise known as the Pre-Olympics to be sailed in August this year in Qingdao, China. Being treated as a dress rehearsal for the Olympic Games 2008 only a small team of New Zealanders will compete at this event with the kiwi team now including nine sailors to sail in seven classes.
While Evans and Burling have dominated the 420 class winning consecutive world titles in 2006 and 2007, the step up to the Olympic class 470 is not an easy task.
Their first event in the 470 was Singapore Airlines Sail Auckland Regatta 2007 where the entire fleet totalled 15 boats with poor attendance from international sailors. Evans and Burling finished second overall in a nail biting medal race finish, beaten by fellow kiwis Geoff Woolley and Mark Overington.
By comparison, 92 boats competed at the 470 European Championships last week. The fleet included significant international talent – the kiwi youngsters coming in two places higher than 2005 world champion Nathan Wilmot of Australia.
While the European Championships has proved to be somewhat of a dream start in the 470 for the determined and quietly spoken youngsters, there are some big challenges ahead this year. Their next event is ISAF Grade 1 Kiel Week in Germany next week and the ISAF Sailing World Championships after that.
Evans and Burling are part of the 48 strong New Zealand team to compete at the ISAF Sailing World Championships where all eleven of the Olympic classes come together to decide their respective world titles for 2007. Also up for grabs at this event being sailed in Cascais, Portugal is 75% of national places for next years Olympic Games. Sailors converge on Cascais late in June.
The decision on who will sail in Qingdao next year at the Olympic Games is getting closer and these approaching regattas are important for all the kiwi campaigners. Nomination to NZOC for selection into the New Zealand Olympic Team is likely to be made within six to twelve months of the Olympic Games 2008.