29er selected for Youth Worlds 2002

Is the writing on the wall for the 420 class, with the 29er earmarked as the double-hander for the ISAF Youth Worlds in Canada next year? Andy Rice reports

Sunday March 4th 2001, Author: Andy Rice, Location: United Kingdom
At the beginning of this year, Dave Hall of Ovington Boats said the 29er skiff could be selected as the new double-hander for the ISAF Youth Worlds. But he would say that, wouldn't he? After all, it is his job to sell the boat. And a very good job he's done too, with over 100 boats sold in the UK and another 50 into the continent.
But Britain is always the early adopter of new classes, the rest of the world tends to lag behind. The 49er would never have taken off globally without first securing Olympic status. It would take a similar impetus to get the 29er launched beyond the shores of Britain and Australia - and now it's got one - selection as the double-hander for the ISAF Youth World Championship in Nova Scotia next year.

Dave Hall commented to madforsailing: "It's interesting that the British, Spanish and the Finns bought into the 29er early on. Look where they finished at the Olympics in the 49er." The Finnish won the gold, the Brits the silver and the Spanish just missed a medal in fourth place, behind the Americans.

Now watch the French, the Italians, the Germans - in fact every serious sailing nation - post their orders for the mini-skiff. We have already seen huge uptake of the 29er in this country, now we are set to see it happen worldwide. Dave Hall said he received an order for 10 boats from one Scandinavian country, within minutes of the Youth Worlds announcement being made.

But for every positive effect, there has to be an opposing negative one, and I fear it is the 420 that will suffer. For years the 420 has been the obvious youth trainer, the perfect feeder for the Olympic 470. But both of these classes, designed in the early 60s, are beginning to look a little long in the tooth. The 29er is the new kid on the block, brash and bold, but now with the full approval of the sailing establishment. If Ovington Boats was quoted on the stock market, the shares would be going through the roof right now. One well-respected British 420 sailor even commented: "It will kill the 420."

It may be premature to say that, but the 470 needs the 420, and vice versa - and as soon as one goes the other will follow very shortly.

The 2002 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship will be held from 18 July to 27 July 2002, Lunenburg Yacht Club, Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia. The choice of classes is:

Boardsailing girls - Mistral
Boardsailing boys - Mistral
Single handed girls - Bytes
Single handed boys - Laser
Double handed girls - 29er
Double handed boys - 29er.

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