Boosted

As you reach the final years of your time in youth sailing, depending on quite how high you get, the spectre of the Youth World Championships hoves into view amidst the inevitable boredom of exams and your parents’ obsession with university. All you really want to do is live in a campervan and become a travelling sailing hobo going from event to event and this whole school thing is just a drag, a tax on fun.

You’re easily at your coolest – you’ve spent years blasting around in dinghies, everything comes naturally and all your mates are doing the same thing – some with a bit more cash than you, others scraping by. The coaches have their eye on you and all you need is to string a good few regattas together and the nod for the Youth Worlds is yours.


© Sander van der Borch / Lloyd Images / Oman Sail

I never got close. A regional title, a couple of runners-ups at the National Schools regatta, a place in Nations Cup and a good showing at one particular nationals but no cigar. I didn’t go to the ball. But for those that did, it was a passport to another level. It was the only exam that truly mattered. Many of us failed. But we had a hell of a laugh trying.

So every year, with much interest I look at the Youth Worlds with somewhat misty-eyes. It fascinates and enthrals. Seeing youthful endeavour and young adults having the absolute time of their lives, transports you back to fond memories and a time where nothing other than rig tension, straight-leg hiking and the next windshift on your Silva compass mattered. Glory days – as Bruce Springsteen sang – ‘they’ll pass you by…’ But glory days none the same.


©Photo by Lloyd Images/ Oman Sail

So it was, where else, but the Sultanate of Oman that hosted last week’s championship and it was a belter. Look at the winners across the fleets and it’s probably the most international ever seen. And there was real, pure, unadulterated talent on display. Sailing’s future is guaranteed with this generation coming fast onto the radar.

Peru, yes Peru can you believe it (?), won its first ever medal at this level with Florencia Chiarella scooping a fabulous gold in the Laser Radials and there were winners from Britain, Spain, Israel, Singapore, France, Germany, Bermuda and Italy. World Sailing will be almost insufferable now but it’s great to see such global diversity. More importantly, it’s so vital and life-affirming to witness the smiling faces of determination and dedication coming back from Oman. What a great scene to be a part of and there’s some interesting markers there for the future.


© Sander van der Borch / Lloyd Images / Oman Sail

When you look at the kite-surfers you can see several of these athletes moving on and dominating the sport, probably in this discipline more than any other. Youth is where it’s at in the kites and there was talent of a different kind on display in the discipline. Watch for the names like Max Maeder and Ricardo Pianosi whilst not forgetting the Russian Mikhail Novikov as they come through the men’s ranks. And keep an eye on Israel’s Gal Zukerman who scored a perfect 18 bullets from 18 to win by a country mile. Wow that’s something very, very special.


© Photo by Lloyd Images/ Oman Sail

Equally in the re-boosted windsurfers, the Techno 293 saw France’s Manon Pianazza score 13 bullets from 13 and this was one heck of a result – can you imagine winning a Youth Worlds with a perfect score? That’s next-level stuff. That’s different gravy. Amazing.

The stand-out team overall was France who scooped the Nations Trophy with sheer consistency and Gallic flair but look down the ranks and you’ll see USA in third overall which a huge fillip for American sailing that has been feeling somewhat on the back-foot when it comes to top class dinghy and Olympic sailing. Paul Cayard will be pleased – the future is brighter than it may seem, or has seemed for a while, and this new generation needs encouragement and support to push on now. I’m sure they’ll get it.


© Photo by Lloyd Images/ Oman Sail

But what of Oman – well it’s been the go-to destination for winter sailing championships for the past couple of months now. And it’s a fabulous location. The locals have absolutely embraced sailing and you wonder just what’s going down in the sultanate.

Jeddah, I hear and am being told quite vociferously, ruled itself out of the America’s Cup a while ago and further speculation on that matter is just hot air. It probably always was. So could Oman, that ambitiously determined, politically safe, perhaps palatable Middle Eastern venue be the dark horse, the one that no-one’s really mentioned?

Something’s going down in that part of the world but it ain’t Saudi Arabia according to well-placed sources. Draw the dots, follow the money but more importantly look for single-rule states that can sign blank cheques – the America’s Cup doesn’t and won’t work in places where politics of differing hues is tolerated.


©Photo by Lloyd Images/ Oman Sail

World Sailing’s Youth World Championship was a spectacle. To every one of the athletes that took part, I commend you. I hope the beach parties under firelight were as epic as the racing and life-long friendships were borne out of collective endeavour. Wonderful to see. Thank your parents, coaches and supporters. In thirty years’ time you’ll look back and realise it was the time of your life, win or lose. It was everything.

Terrific.


10 thoughts on “Boosted

  1. Hang on a moment. You said: “look for single-rule states that can sign blank cheques – the America’s Cup doesn’t and won’t work in places where politics of differing hues is tolerated.” Do you mean it can’t work in places like New York, Rhode Island, Western Australia, California (San Diego), New Zealand, Switzerland (Spain), California (San Francisco), Bermuda or New Zealand? All of these, with the exception of San Francisco, have functioning (more or less) governments featuring multiple parties that tolerate politics of various quite different hues.

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    1. Especially when the Defender needs a large venue fee. Politically that’s dynamite in a democratic society in the current geo-political landscape with so many other issues on the agenda.

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      1. Just to clarify: the Defender doesn’t “need” a large venue fee. The Defender “wants” a large venue fee. To my knowledge there were no large cash venue fees in NY, Newport, Perth, San Diego, Auckland, Valencia or San Francisco.

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    2. I feel if you’re going to argue that the *USA*’s government overall isn’t always very functional I wouldn’t argue, but I wouldn’t single out San Francisco in that regard. San Diego and Newport suffer just as much from the general dysfunction of our country.

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      1. As a 50 year resident of San Francisco (and its environs) I invite you to come for a visit to see what truly dysfunctional government that is intolerant of differing political hues actually looks like 😉

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      2. I’d love to come for SailGP SF but I’m afraid I don’t have enough leave for a cross-country train trip from DC! Maybe next time! I did enjoy my visit for the Archaeological Institute of America annual meeting in 2016, though (although if I’d known about the AC at the time I would have gone to the GGYC!)

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  2. Hey Magnus it appears the secret in one design sailing is to get a fast yacht. Nathan was amazed at the speed of Ben’s boat. Me too. It just looked fast.

    Three conspiracy theorists went into a bar and one said “This is not a coincidence”.

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  3. You know, if everyone could just stop letting me down with venue announcements, that’d be great, okay? I’m not okay with TOR announcing a “final” route that has no stops in Oceania, it seems ridiculous to have an event in the US but not Australia or NZ. They actually know what the Ocean Race IS down there!

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