Strong squad for Youth Worlds

The Volvo Youth Worlds kick off in Canada this weekend. Sasha Oswald reviews the form of the British squad

Wednesday July 17th 2002, Author: Sasha Oswald, Location: United States
The next generation of Olympic, Volvo Ocean Race and America's Cup sailors are bound for Canada this week and the showcase event in world youth sailing. The town of Lunenburg in Nova Scotia is hosting the six-day (20-26 July) Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship.

Twelve months ago at the last event in France the British team secured gold, silver and bronze medals in the Laser, 420 and Laser Radial disciplines to finish third overall in the national contest.

This time Royal Yachting Association Youth Manager Steve Joel believes that the young but evidently talented team can move another step closer to claiming the Volvo Trophy for the top national performance.

"My hope will be that the team go on to build upon the gradual rise in performance seen over the last three years from eighth to fourth to third. The team has a great chance to succeed," he said.

This time there is potential for podium places in two new disciplines.

The 29er girls' pairing of Pippa Wilson (16, Lymington, Hants) and Jenny Marks (17, Northampton) beat all the boys teams and were a remarkable 104 points ahead of the nearest girls crew at the Volvo RYA Youth Championships in Weymouth three months ago to qualify for their place at the Youth Worlds.

Two previous Cadet national titles and two fourth places at the World Championship shows Pippa and Jenny are serious medal contenders.

Jonny Marshall (17, Lymington) and Tom Smedley (15, Langstone, Hants), training partners to Wilson and Marks, secured second place behind the girls in the high performance skiff class at the national championship to guarantee their place in the GB Volvo RYA Youth Worlds Team.

"I have been dreaming about going to the youth worlds since I sailed Optimists," said Marshall. "If you look at the list of competitors over the years it is amazing and I just want to be part of that list." His sister was a previous competitor at the Youth Worlds in the 420 class, finishing seventh overall - a result that Jonny is keen to beat.

This is the first time the 29er will make an appearance at the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championships, to the detriment of the long standing 420 class.

While his home town prepares for the Commonwealth Games, Manchester's own Andy Brooks (16) will be taking part in his own special championship, competing in the Laser class.

With the guidance of top single-handed coach Mark Littlejohn, Brooks will be out to emulate Mark Powell's gold medal performance at last year's event in France.

The Byte class replaces the traditional Laser Radial as the girl's single-handed discipline, but Britain's representative, Colette Blair (16, Bewl Valley) has adapted to the subtleties of the lighter boat well.

She was selected for Canada after scoring an impressive four first and two second places in the UK Byte trial series that included the 2001 Radial class bronze medallist.

Britain's leading Olympic windsurfers Nick Dempsey and Natasha Sturges were both Youth World Championship medallists on the Mistral board and following in their footsteps are Dan Binney (17, from Cumbria), and Catherine Potter (18, from Nottingham).

This will be Catherine Potter's second tilt at world championship glory. She also attended the Volvo ISAF Youth World Championship in Sydney two years ago.

RYA Youth Squads Manager Mark Barron is the Team Manager in Canada. "The team preparations are well underway and going well," he said today. "Colette (Blair) has been out in Canada doing some events locally with success at the Nova Scotia Championships, which she won, and Andy (Brooks) has been in Germany, taking part in Travemunde Woche (week) and is sailing well."

"My main aim will be to make sure that the team sails well and achieve their main potential, I can't ask any more than that."

"Representing your country at this level of sporting event is a great achievement and honour, and we wish these talented sailors all the best for the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship," said John Lefley, Director of Public Relations at Volvo Car UK. "It promises to be an exciting competition and we'll be following the regatta closely and hope that this year, the British Team can bring home the Volvo Trophy."

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