The International Sailing Federation (ISAF) Youth World Sailing Championships is the pinnacle of youth sailing and many competitors go on to Olympic campaigns when they are older. The 2012 ISAF Youth Worlds sees 8 Hong Kong Sailors competing in Dublin, Ireland, from 12 - 21 July. This year, some 350 sailors, aged 14-19 years old from 63 nations, plus their coaches and team leaders, have descended on Dun Laoghaire for the annual highlight of the youth sailing calendar.
Nathan Bradley, crew, and Cosmas Grelon, helm, Hong Kong, in action during Boy’s Open Skiff 29er Class, at the Four Star Pizza ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship. Dun Laoghaire, Dublin. David Maher/SPORTSFILE
'We have been waiting four years for this, so it is really exciting,' says Brian Craig, Chairman of Dublin Bay 2012, the organizing committee. 'Everyone is buzzed up - there is great enthusiasm among the sailors. It’s great. For us it is a chance of a lifetime to run an event like this.'
Sailors are competing in eight classes which are directly relevant to the Olympic Games, the 420 being the small version of the Olympic 470, and the 29er being the same junior equivalent to the 49er. This is no coincidence, as Craig explains: 'This is the pathway to the Olympics, so to get an event like that here in Ireland is superb for us. It is bringing all the top sailors here. For youth sailors around the country, they are going to see all these role models.'
The Hong Kong team is made up of Tse Sui Lun and Wan Chi Wai, sailing together in the two-person 420; James Johnston and Nagisa Sakai in the single handed Laser Radials, Michael Leung and Lydia Chau in the boys and girls RSX Windsurf classes, and Cosmas Grelon and Nathan Bradley in the high-performance 29er dinghy.
Hong Kong RSX Windsurfer Lydia Chau at 2012 ISAF Youth Worlds - Photo by Dave Maher/ISAF tn
This is the first time Hong Kong has qualified to attend the ISAF Worlds in the 29er class and is the result of Hong Kong clubs investment in world-class coaches and a new fleet of 29ers. 'It shows just how well top-class dinghy sailing in Hong Kong is progressing' writes Kevin Lewis, the Dinghy Sailing Manager at Aberdeen Boat Club, where Cosmas and Nathan train. 'Hong Kong is a very small place, and small-boat sailing has very limited resources, but great strides are being made at all levels, from the grassroots upwards'. After the ISAF worlds, the 29er boys will immediately travel to Germany and meet up with other sailors – a squad of 12, that’s six boats – that will be taking part in the 29er World Championships in Travemünde.
There are high-hopes for the Hong Kong Windsurfers, particularly Michael Leung, who is returning to the event and hoping to better his 11th place last year at Zadar in Croatia. Hebe Haven Yacht Club Laser Radial sailor James Johnston also returns in the boys Laser Radial class, joined this year by fellow girls-radial sailor Nagisa Sakai, both of whom have extensive experience competing at the highest international level. After completing the ISAF Worlds, Tse Sui Lun and Wan Chi Wai, from the Hong Kong Sea School, will travel to Lake Garda to join 4 other sailors competing in the 420 Junior Europeans, another class that is seeing continued growth and support in Hong Kong.
More on the ISAF Youth Worlds here: www.isafyouthworlds.com
Follow the racing live on the Twitter feeds from each race course: https://twitter.com/ISAFyw12_Black
Daily video updates on the ISAF You Tube Channel: www.youtube.com/isafchannel
14 July 2012; A general view of the start of the Open Skiff - 29er Class at the Four Star Pizza ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship. Dun Laoghaire, Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE