420 Junior Europeans. Xammer/Claville's teammates Luis Benitez-Inglot/Jorge Ramirez (ESP) finished ahead of them in fifth place at the 420 Europeans and will also be on the start line in Belgium. The ISAF Youth Worlds Champions will want to reverse their fortunes and stamp their usual authority as the top Spanish 420 team.
There are two non-European nations here, Singapore and Australia. Australia's Angus Galloway/Alexander Gough are competing with a bronze medal pedigree from the 2011 ISAF Youth Worlds.
France and Italy put in stunning performances at the 420 Open and Ladies Europeans, securing four medals between them, but it will mostly be different teams striving for excellence at the 420 Junior Europeans. Both nations may prove to have made a wise decision in giving their teams who competed at the ISAF Youth Worlds a rest from top end competition, before facing the start line here. Guillaume Pirouelle/Valentin Sipan (FRA) finished fourth in the 420 boys at the ISAF Youth Worlds and teammates Maelenn Lematire/Aloise Retornaz finished 11th in the girls' division. They will be joined by the Italian representatives Tito Rodda/Agostina Rodda (ITA) who finished 14th and Guilia Lantier/Martha Faraguna who finished fifth in the 420 girls. Inevitably, a few rivalries to be re-challenged. However, results achieved at the ISAF Youth Worlds are not necessarily an indicator of what the teams can deliver in the larger fleet size and greater number of top teams they will experience at the 420 Junior Europeans.
A different situation for the British teams, whose 2011 420 European Championship aspirations didn't quite work out as planned and are in Belgium on a mission to improve their performance from Tavira. Amongst those capable of winning medals are the two top British Ladies teams, reigning 420 Ladies World Champions Annabel Vose/Megan Brickwood, and 2011 ISAF Youth Worlds representatives Jessica Lavery/Georgina Mothersele. Similarly for Craig Dibb/Charlie Cox (GBR) who finished seventh at the ISAF Youth Worlds, and Tim Gratton/Ed Riley (GBR) who count deliveries of sixth at both the 2011 420 World Championships and the 2010 420 Junior European Championships to their credit. As part of their training, these teams competed at the 2011 Flanders Regatta which improve their familiarity with the racing area, added to which Vose/Brickwood finished second overall.
Turkey and Israel will be represented by some of their new young teams, with four and five boats respectively, and aiming to continue their cracking performances from the 420 Open Europeans. Israel's Yoav Levi/Dan Froyliche won the 2010 420 Junior European Championship gold medals and will be competing in Nieuwpoort but in the 470 Class, in which they most recently finished 18th at the 2011 470 Junior Worlds. Taking over Israel's 420 defence are Noya Bar-Am/Rimon Shoshan who have their sights on 'a top five finish.'
Host nation Belgium is fielding four teams, who are certainly feeling some home turf pressure, as helm Quinten Lootens explained, 'It is pretty important and we are expected to do quite well. It is our wind today, so we are hoping it will continue like this through the regatta. We want a top ten finish.' Lootens and crew Stijn van Hoye recently finished 12th at the 2011 ISAF Youth Worlds.
Renowned coach Jim Saltonstall (GBR) will be on hand to provide coaching support and daily debriefings. Jim's unmatched ability to engage with the young sailors provides a unique platform to train and support future generations of sailors. Explaining his focus for the week, Jim commented, 'Objectives are to improve the racing standards of sailors with a focus on boat handling, boat tuning, race strategy, starting techniques, tactics and racing rules.' Responding to what motivates him, with a sparkling grin Jim responded, 'To get the best out of my ferrets!'
Racing starts with the qualification series on 9 August and concludes on 15 August. The 2011 Open 420 Junior European Championships is organised by the Royal Yacht Club Nieuwpoort in co-operation with the Royal Air Force Yacht Club, the Royal Yacht Club Belgium, Belgian National 420 Class Association and the International 420 Class Association. 420 Junior European Championships website