When racing kicks off at the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship in Tavira, Portugal on 14 July, Italy's Mattia Camboni and Marta Maggetti will lead the RS:X Boys and Girls charge.
The Italian racers won gold at the 2013 RS:X Youth Worlds on their home waters of Civitavecchia in October 2013 and have ISAF Youth Worlds medals to their name. Camboni, 2012 silver medallist, will be amongst the favourites in the 33 strong RS:X Boys fleet whilst Maggetti, 2013 silver medallist, will feature in the 21-boat RS:X Girls pack.
In the RS:X Boys fleet only eight sailors return for their second ISAF Youth Worlds with many fresh young faces entering the mix.
Returnees from the 2013 regatta include bronze medallist Radowslaw Furmanski (POL), Toni Bonet (ESP), Jiwon Son (KOR), Arthur Ulrichsen (NOR), Gabriel Verrier-Paquette (CAN), Jock Calvert (AUS) and Juan Fernando Bazo (PER).
Camboni was not selected for the 2013 edition but gained ISAF Youth Worlds experience from the 2010 edition in Istanbul, Turkey where he placed ninth, the 2011 regatta in Zadar, Croatia where he finished 12th and the 2012 ISAF Youth Worlds in Dublin Bay, Ireland.
Heading into the final race on the final day in Ireland Camboni was involved in a winner take all final bout with Cho Wonwoo (KOR). The Italian lost out to the Korean and will use the experience to his advantage in Portugal, 'Perhaps with it being my fourth ISAF Youth Worlds experience, it will help me. In 2012 I lost first place on the final day by two points and this year I am hoping to bounce back,' commented Camboni.
Camboni has been training regularly with the senior Italian RS:X team and has impressed at ISAF Sailing World Cup regattas with a seventh in Miami his best result to date. Whilst on paper it's hard to bet against him, the 18-year-old remains modest about his chances, 'I have been training in 9.5 with the Olympic team on Lake Garda for two years and I believe there are many great windsurfers over me. I am going to give the best I can to try and win,' concluded the Italian.
Strong opposition will come from Poland's Furmanski who took the 2014 Youth European Championship title in Cesme, Turkey on 5 July but the field was absent of the Italian. Furmanski worked hard for bronze at the 2013 ISAF Youth Worlds and will want to improve on that result in Tavira whilst the next best ISAF Youth Worlds performance in the fleet is a 13th from Toni Bonet (ESP) in 2013.
With a strong racing pedigree behind her Maggetti will be one of the favourites in the RS:X Girls fleet.
The 18-year-old raced at the 2013 ISAF Youth Worlds finishing second behind Yunxiu Lu (CHN) by five points and 11 points ahead of fellow 2014 competitor Sara Wennekes (NED). Just three months later the former Techno 293 Under 15 and 17 World Champion took a tense final day gold at the RS:X Youth Worlds.
Aiming to put a stop to Maggetti will be 2013 bronze medallist Wennekes. The Dutch racer has competed against the Italian on the world stage since 2010 where they first met at the Techno 293 Worlds and has put in many hours of preparation and competition time leading up to the 2014 ISAF Youth Worlds.
Whilst Wennekes sees Maggetti as a key rival she recognises the threat of the whole fleet, 'Marta Maggetti is one of the competitors with a high potential of winning the event but for me it is important to surf my own races and not be busy with the other competitors. I want to finish a good regatta and whoever will be my rival I will try to beat them,' explained Wennekes.
Wennekes also sailed at the 2012 ISAF Youth Worlds in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland, finishing seven points off the podium and will be using her experience of the event to full advantage, 'I think it is important to use information from other competitions,' said Wennekes. 'I can improve myself in that way especially since I know what mistakes I made last year.
'You will never know if you can win a competition but I'll do the best I can and use the information I have. Moreover, I think that being well prepared is one of the most important aspects of winning a competition so I have been busy preparing myself already for a long time. We will see what happens this year.'
At the recent European Championship in Cesme, Turkey Wennekes placed fifth and was the second highest ISAF Youth Worlds competitor. She finished behind Russia's Stefania Elfutina and ahead of Imogen Sills (GBR), twin sister of 2012 winner Saskia. Magetti finished down the pack as the winter and spring training of many of the sailors shone in the Turkish sun.
With more than 370 sailors from 68 nations competing in eight classes at the ISAF Youth Worlds the event is unique as Wennekes concluded, 'I expect the regatta will be amazing, like it was last year. The whole organisation and atmosphere was great and made me feel really comfortable. Hopefully it will be the same this year so I can make the best out of it. In the end, the only way to get a good result is to get the best out of myself. I'm looking forward to it because it will be a great experience again.'
The ISAF Youth Worlds commences on 12 July and runs through to 19 July. Racing kicks off on 14 July at 13:00 local time. Event website