Seventy sailors from 29 Countries have been streaming into the Yacht Club de Cannes for the Byte CII World Championships and Open Youth Olympic Games Qualifier. Many of the sailors have already qualified their Countries in their Continental Qualifiers where the highest placed sailors qualified a place for their country but not necessarily themselves. Some who have now been named to represent their country are here to train; others, like the Netherlands Antilles, Bermuda, Holland and Italy are here because the qualified Country is using this regatta to pick their male or female sailor for Singapore.
Even the host nation Singapore, (with two automatic spots in the Games), is here in force with four male and four female sailors including 2009 World Champion Darrel Choy and World Women’s Champion, Najwa Jumali. The team is using this as their qualifier whilst sailing against the best the world has to offer. That includes competitors from as far away as New Zealand and Malaysia that have been arriving over the past two weeks to acclimatize themselves for the Championship.
Racing starts on Wednesday the seventh.
An Interview with Ian Bruce
The Sailing Secretariat of the Yacht Club de Cannes caught up with Ian Bruce, Designer and builder of the Byte and freshly arrived from the recently completed North American and Caribbean Qualifier in the Cayman Islands and posed a few questions on the impact that the Youth Olympic Games selection could be having on the Byte.
YCC: We had French entries in both the ISAF World Youth Girl’s events of 2000 and 2002 in the standard Byte rig but, since the advent of the CII rig, we have not seen a lot of the boat in France. Are you hoping that this will change as a result of the very successful Continental Qualifiers that have been taking place?
Ian: A simple answer is yes, we very much hope so. You mentioned the advent of the CII rig and it was actually a turning point in the development of the Class – to its detriment! ISAF was looking for a strictly one-design, 'out of the box' boat to replace the Europe that would cater to a wider weight range of sailor. We developed the CII rig specifically for that and, while we probably satisfied the criteria as well or better than any, the rig was not fully developed and the Radial won out in a landslide. At that moment in time it became a case of, either or, CII or Radial, and the merits of the rig ceased to be considered.
YCC:Do you think that might be changing?
Ian: The single most important thing coming out of the CII’s choice for the YOG has been the discovery by a huge segment of the sailing world that the rig really does work! Some coaches have expressed total surprise. Others see that the boat can be a real developmental platform, not just for further singlehanded sailing but for many of the sophisticated doublehanders of today. It is after all, a true self-depowering skiff rig and as technical as any boat being raced.
YCC: We have to ask the question! What about the 4.7?
Ian: Let’s be realistic, we are not going to replace the 4.7!! However, as I have just mentioned, we feel that there is room in the whole youth developmental process for a boat that is a quantum level more sophisticated and that can develop in youngsters the skills not just to follow down the singlehanded pipeline that started even earlier with the Optimist but to take their new skills into any of a number of different Classes. And not just as skippers but as prized crews. Never forget that the best crews in the world are all excellent skippers in their own right!
YCC: Merci et bonne chance!
In the Dinghy Park!
Allexander Elstrodt from Brazil, first National Qualifier in the South American Championships sailed in Sao Paulo. In Cannes for training.
Celine Carlsen, Denmark, who very narrowly missed out on a Country place in the European Championships, is in Cannes to prove a point! Six female spots are available.
"I really enjoy now being able to sail a boat just as well in heavy air as in the lighter air and I think I am actually now enjoying the heavy air more!"
Two very good friends from Holland, Dewi Couvert (left) and Daphne van der Vaart would both have qualified the country with their finishes in the Europeans as both finished ahead of the seventh place qualifier. Daphne was the higher finisher with a third but now they are sailing in Cannes for the same place in Singapore! Jelmer van Beek rounds out the team. He sailed the Europeans, did not qualify Holland but he tries again!
Rahiem Steede, who led the Bermudan qualifiers in Cayman to secure a place for the Island, is in Cannes with 4 of his fellow sailors, all looking to qualify for Bermuda's spot.