Australia will field a team laced with raw talent, discipline and experience at the Youth Sailing World Championships this year, with most of the sailors declaring hard work as the biggest requirement to achieving success at Corpus Christi in the US in July.
Among the squad to represent the nation in Texas will be reigning Youth World Champions in the 420, Otto Henry and Rome Featherstone. Other team members who have competed previously at the major event are 29er crew Henry Larkings and Miles Davey, and windsurfers Hailey Lea and Alex Halank. It will be Halank’s third Youth World Championship.
Those going to their first Youth Worlds are Maddie O’Shea (Laser Radial girls), Zac Littlewood (Laser Radial boys), Alice Buchanan and Dervla Duggan (29er girls), Will Cooley and Evie Haseldine (Nacra 15) and Matilda Richardson and Lily Richardson (420 girls)
Littlewood, who finished third at the Australian Youth Championships, and O’Shea, who finished second, each qualified for the team by one point, based on the Australian Sailing Youth Team selection criteria, which took into account results at national class championships.
Team selection is subject to Australian Sailing Board approval. Australian Sailing will now undertake a process to select the Team Leader/Coach and coaches. This process is expected to be finalised in February.
Henry and Featherstone said they had been focused on snaring a coveted place on the team to ensure they could defend the gold medal they won at Sanya, China in December.
“I’m just relieved to get the spot again because usually these small events, with not many boats, can be a bit tricky,” Henry said. “I can’t wait for the next Youth Worlds.”
Bic Techno Plus national champion Halank said he would look to improve after gaining a cherished third chance to go to the Youth Worlds.
“It’s going to be pretty fun again,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity. I’m hoping to train a little bit more, I’m going to try and become more fit and hopefully make some big changes.”
Lea, Australia’s female representative in the class, said she would attempt to bulk up before Texas.
“Just getting out on the water as much as possible because being on the water is what’s going to get you better, and a lot of time in the gym as well, working on strength,” she said of how she would spend the coming months.
29er duo Larkings and Davey came ninth at Sanya but were relieved to get another chance this year.
Larkings said they would seek to improve their starting, boat handling and boat speed.
“We’ll train hard, get some good training partners – hopefully Max [colleague Max Paul] will stick in the class for a bit so we can get some good training against them.”
29er winners, Buchanan and Duggan, will become the second consecutive Tasmanian women’s 29er team to compete at the Youth Worlds after Launceston pair Jasmin Galbraith and Chloe Fisher won bronze at Sanya.
“The class is growing down there, which is really good,” Buchanan said.
Duggan said they would train hard “and just hope for the best” at Corpus Christi.
“It’s going to be a great learning experience, as well,” she added. “Very happy, very excited, can’t wait for the next few months.”
Nacra 15 winners Will Cooley and Evie Haseldine said it felt amazing to qualify.
Haseldine said recent competition had been an “eye-opener”.
“Over the past two regattas we’ve really realised how consistency is your friend and how it helps you get to the top,” she said.
Melbourne 420 twins Matilda and Lily Richardson said the hard work begins now.
“It feels really good,” Lily Richardson said. “It was our goal coming here and it’s a pretty good feeling when you’ve achieved it successfully. We’ve done a lot of hours, a lot of training.”
– Australian Sailing