470 Junior Worlds kicks off with Classic Cabriolet Opening Ceremony
by Luissa Smith on 28 Jun 2014
2014 Junior 470 World Championships - Circolo Nautico Cervia in the Milan Maritima district of Italy is hosting sixty-nine 470 teams from 19 nations for six days of racing at the 2014 470 Junior World Championships which kicks off on Saturday 28 June 2014.
Japan's 470 Team - 2014 470 Junior World Championships, Cervia, Italy Mauro Melandri
The 470 Junior World Championships officially opened this evening with an opening ceremony teams will not forget for a long time. Staged next to the San Michele Tower, in the heart of Cervia’s historical quarter, teams were greeted by a stunning selection of classic cabriolets. After the official speeches and Sailors’ Oaths made on behalf of the competing athletes by Yurie Seki (JPN) and Giacomo Ferrari (ITA), the Championship was officially opened.
In stunning Italian style, athletes from each participating nation got to ride in some amazing classic cabriolets. With national flags waving in the air, the parade back to Circolo Nautico Cervia was a spectacular nose to tail of honking horns.
Racing gets underway on Saturday 28 June and amongst the stellar line-up of teams ready to challenge for the 2014 470 Junior World Championship titles are the defending champions from 2013. Restricted to teams who are aged 21 or under in the year of the Championship, the event is a meeting of the world’s best young 470 teams.
Strong 470 European countries like France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Israel, Italy, Poland, Spain and Ukraine will line-up against teams from Argentina, Australia and Japan who have made the trip to Europe. Home nation Italy is fielding the biggest fleet, with 22 teams across the two Championships. So, this means tough competition for the reigning 470 Junior World Champions as they seek to defend their titles.
Spain’s Jordi Xammar and Joan Herp will be looking to remain at the top and defend their 2013 title, although with one 470 Junior Gold Medal to their credit, a win is not everything for the pair, as Xammar explained, 'This year we are focused on the ISAF Worlds of Santander to qualify Spain to the 2016 Olympic Games. As we have already won the 470 Junior Worlds, we don’t have so much pressure to win.'
So far in 2014, the world ranked #25 pair have competed in every ISAF Sailing World Cup event, most recently finishing 16 at ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyeres, as they balance racing with their education. But they are more than used to the challenge and have a strong partnership which stretches back over many years. Xammar is a two-time ISAF Youth World Champion in the 420 Class in 2010 and 2011, winning in 2010 with Herp.
Eyeing up the frontrunners, the Spanish will be keeping close tabs on Guillaume Pirouelle/Valentin Sipan from France who they predict as Championship favourites, particularly in the lighter wind conditions. Explaining their prediciton, Xammar said, 'Cervia is a place of very light wind and we feel better with windy conditions, so we know that we are not going to be one of the fastest boats, but we will try to be in the top five or the podium.'
ISAF world ranked #31 Pirouelle/Sipan also carry a strong record of podium results together, particularly from their 420 days. In 2012, they had an amazing run of form to stand on the podium at each of the three majors – gold at the 420 Junior Europeans, silver at the 420 Worlds, silver at the ISAF Youth Worlds. 2013 saw them move across to the 470 Class, where their performance continued with a sixth at the 470 Junior Worlds and 35th at the 470 Europeans - and they are intent on a 470 medal in 2014.
The Junior Worlds line-up is full of talent whose paths have frequently crossed throughout their young sailing careers, a challenge the Spanish relish. 'I really like racing against the people I know from when I was 12 years old at Optimist Worlds and Optimist Europeans. On the water though, there are no friends though as we all want to win, but yes off the water we are really good friends,' said Herp.
Also up in contention will be Spain’s twin brothers David and Alex Charles. They dominated the 420 fleet in 2012, winning the ISAF Youth Worlds and taking bronze medals at both the 420 Worlds and 420 Junior Europeans, before stepping up to the 470 and finishing fifth at last year’s 470 Junior Worlds and 10th at the 470 Junior Europeans.
Argentina’s Agustin Romero/Fermin Jacobs have relatively recently made the transition to the 470 Class. The team finished 10th at last year’s ISAF Youth Worlds in the 420, and wrapped out 2013 winning the Argentinean 420 Nationals. The 2014 470 Junior Worlds marks their first appearance in a major 470 Championship fleet.
Numerous other teams will feature strongly, including Switzerland’s brothers Fabrice Rigot/Guillaume Rigot who finished one place behind the Charles brothers at last year’s Junior Europeans. With more experience gained from racing at the ISAF Sailing World Cup events in Hyeres and Palma, they will certainly be up in the leading pack. A huge depth of talent in the seventeen boat Italian fleet, makes it hard to predict who will be popping out on top as home nation pride comes to the fore.
Racing in the 470 Men gets underway first with a scheduled start time of 1300 hours on Saturday 28 June.
As French coach Didier Bernard explained, defending 470 Junior World Champions Maëlenn Lemaitre/Aloïse Retornaz of France are here to win gold. In fact, the French want to do the double and claim both 470 Men and Women Junior World Championship titles.
This will be no straightforward feat and there are a number of teams who will be jostling for the podium with the French, particularly as they meet 2013 470 Junior European Champions Anna Kyselova/Anastasiya Krasko for some high intensity racing. The two teams were in their own personal battle at last year’s Junior Worlds and gained a massive points margin over the rest of the fleet, but ultimately went into the Medal Race with the French guaranteed gold and the Ukrainians silver. The story may turn out differently as racing unfolds here, but for tonight they were more absorbed on which cabriolet car to hop into, with the French choosing a blue Fiat and the Ukrainians a cream Mercedes!
2014 marks their last year of competition in the junior age group, so going out with a bang ranks highly for both teams.
Kyselova/Krasko arrived straight from the Ukrainian 470 National Championsips, where they finished third overall and first girls. Kyselova recognizes the battle they face for leaderboard domination saying, 'I guess during the regatta it will be us and them, because at all other regattas we are fighting between us. We are always just watching and checking each other and I think here it will be same.'
A busy year so far for Maëlenn Lemaitre/Aloïse Retornaz whose major events since the 2013 Junior Worlds have been ISAF Sailing World Cups in Palma and Hyères. 'We have trained a lot with the French Team in Cadiz and Santander,' commented Lemaitre. 'Our training with the French Team is very interesting because of their high level in senior championships. The best French competitors share their knowledge with us so it's a very good preparation for junior events!'
But so far the Ukrainian pair have had the upper hand over the French at the World Cup events, finishing higher up the leaderboard. Carrying a World #17 ranking, Kyselova/Krasko are the top ranked team competing here.
Assessing the fleet, Retornaz said, 'It is difficult to evaluate the level before the first race because this is the first 470 Junior Championship of the year. Junior championships are very different to senior. However we are waiting for Ukrainian girls, we have had close results with them all year.'
At last year’s 470 Junior Worlds and 470 Junior Europeans, Israel’s Noya Bar-Am/Danielle Maman finished 14th and fourth overall, whilst team mates Tsuf Zamet/Lia Biran (ISR) finished seventh at both Championships. With almost another year under their belts, 2014 is likely to see them right up at the front. Other contenders include the German sister pairing of Greta Markfort/Anna Markfort who finished 11th at the 2013 470 Junior Worlds.
Home favourites will include Benedetta di Salle who has jumped from crew to helm and teamed up with new crew Alessandra Dubbini. In 2012, di Salle won both the 420 Ladies Junior European Championship title and the 420 Open Junior European Championship title and has finished on the podium at past ISAF Youth Worlds; bronze in 2013, gold in 2012. Trying to fend off di Salle will be Italy’s Sara Scotto di Vettimo, bronze medallist from the 2013 420 Ladies World Championship, who is racing with Cecilia Portella. Great Britain’s Jess Lavery/Megan Brickwood should also be right up in the mix and have also been racing the senior circuit at ISAF Sailing World Cup events in Palma and Hyères.
The racing format is an 11 race series scheduled for the 470 Men and 470 Women fleets, after which the top 10 advance to the final Medal Race on three July 2014. Racing gets underway at 1300 hours for the 470 Men, followed by the 470 Women, with two races scheduled for each fleet.