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Youth Worlds: Kiwi sailors target top finish in Corpus Christi

by Yachting NZ 16 Jul 2018 06:29 PDT 17 July 2018
Tight finish in the 2016 Youth Worlds, Torbay, New Zealand © Richard Gladwell

It’s often an indicator for future success and this week, 14 of this country’s most promising sailors are competing at the youth sailing world championships in the United States.

The Youth Worlds is the pinnacle event for youth sailors and New Zealand has a proud tradition of success, with 51 medals won (16 gold, 18 silver, 17 bronze) since the first event in 1971.

Some of New Zealand’s top sailors have won titles at this level, including Chris Dickson (1978-80), Russell Coutts (1981), Dean Barker (1990) Tom Ashley (2002) and four times Whitbread/Volvo Ocean Race winner, Stu Banntyne (1989)

On top of that, more than 50 percent of the current NZL Sailing Team were previous medal winners at youth worlds, including Sam Meech who won gold in the Laser in 2009 after claiming silver in 2008, Josh Junior (silver 2007, Laser), Alex Maloney (silver 2010, 29er) and Blair Tuke (silver 2007, 29er).

Seb Lardies and Scott McKenzie will be among the current crop of the NZL Sailing Foundation youth team aiming to finish on the podium. The pair have been in good form in the boy’s 29er, finishing sixth at Kiel Week and second at Gdynia in the last couple of months.

“We hope to come away with a medal,” said Lardies, who combined with McKenzie to finish sixth at last year’s youth sailing world championships in China. “We just want to sail the best we can and see what happens.

“We have been feeling pretty good after some good results at Kiel and Gdynia. We have really improved in our starts and boat speed when it’s windy.”

Corpus Christi, which is on the Gulf of Mexico south of San Antonio, is typically a windy venue but the forecast is for a bit of everything over the five days of racing.

It’s what Josh Armit will be hoping for. The 16-year-old was fifth at last year’s youth worlds and will be among the favourites for the Laser Radial title.

“I like a variety of conditions,” said Armit, who won last year’s under-17 Laser Radial world title. “I have been making good improvements recently, I think, and I’m enjoying my sailing.”

Armit is one of six New Zealand sailors with previous youth worlds experience competing at Corpus Christi but none are as experienced as Greta Stewart who will be competing in her fourth youth sailing world championships.

Stewart has already secured two bronze medals, both in the 29er with sister Kate, and will be hoping to finish her youth career on a high. The 18-year-old was sixth in the Nacra 15 last year with Henry Haslett and will be sailing this week with Tom Fyfe.

“It’s awesome having Greta here for a fourth time because it’s a special achievement,” Yachting New Zealand head coach Matt Thomas said. “She knows how to make a boat go fast.”

As many as 382 sailors from 66 countries will be competing at Corpus Christi when racing gets underway on Tuesday morning (NZ time). The Nations Trophy will also be up for grabs for the best overall country.

NZL Sailing Foundation youth team to compete at this week's youth sailing world championships in the US: Josh Armit (boy's Laser Radial) Samantha Stock (girl's Laser Radial) Max van der Zalm (boy's RS:X) Veerle ten Have (girl's RS:X) Seb Lardies / Scott McKenzie (boy's 29er) Sophia Fyfe / Alice Haslett (girl’s 29er) Greta Stewart / Tom Fyfe (Nacra 15) Seb Menzies / Blake McGlashan (boy's 420) Cara Higinbottom / Alice Floyd (girl's 420)

See here for sailor profiles .

The team are proudly supported by the NZL Sailing Foundation (previously known as the NZL Yachting Trust), Oceanbridge, Zhik and HPSNZ.

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