The Port of Gdynia was baked in sunshine on Sunday night as the 409 sailors from 66 nations took to the city beach for the opening ceremony of the Hempel Youth Sailing World Championships.
A party atmosphere was present in the Polish city, hosting the event for the first time since 2004, as sailors, led by the beat of local drummers, paraded from the event village to the city beach.
As is tradition at the Hempel Youth Worlds, celebrating its 49th edition, each nation brought a flask of water from their home nation for the symbolic mixing of the waters ceremony, which brings all of the waters of the world together to embody sportsmanship, team spirit and unity.
Founded in 1926, the Port of Gdynia was built to act as a haven for ships and the roots of the city were evident throughout the theme of the evening. The stage was set up to resemble a ship and each nation was welcomed up to the stage to pour their water in a specially designed container before it was poured into Gdansk Bay.
The evening also welcomed local dignitaries, volunteers, race officials and the people of Gdynia. Vice Mayor of Gdynia, Marek Łucyk and Tomasz Chamera, President of the Polish Yachting Association, welcomed the sailors to Gdynia before World Sailing President, Kim Andersen, officially opened the Championships.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Kim Andersen said, “It is a great privilege to be here with World Sailing working in collaboration with the Polish Yachting Association and the City of Gdynia to deliver this event.
“Gdynia has a long regatta history. It is perfect for sailing as well as being a National Training Centre for Federations, and I know as a venue will showcase youth sailing at its very best.
“Events like these for young sailors are absolutely crucial to keeping our great sport relevant and appealing to new generations of future athletes.
“I’d like to end by giving a special mention this evening to our young sailors, as it really is all about the athletes. Embrace this event, forge friendships, and remember: just being here is a huge achievement.
“I am confident that you will all enjoy your time here in Gdynia and go home with great sailing memories that will last you a lifetime.”
To close out the ceremony, an inspiring Polish dance was delivered by the Dance Theater Mira.
The 409 sailors from 66 nations are racing across 281 boats and boards with support from Laser Performance/Maclaren (Laser Radial), Nautivela (420), Ovington (29er) and Nacra Sailing (Nacra 15). The RS:X racers have brought their own equipment for 2019.
Racing commences on Monday 15 July at 11:00 local time. A single race for each fleet on Friday 19 July will bring the 2019 edition of the Hempel Youth Sailing World Championships to a close.