The game will be wide open in the Girls Byte CII fleet at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) with an abundance of young, dynamic sailors present in the 30-boat pack.
Youth Olympic Games 2014. The Netherlands’s Odile van Aanholt. Credit: ISAF
Continental qualifiers in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, Europe, North America and the Caribbean and Oceania has ensured the best sailors, aged 15-16, from 30 nations have earned their right to be on the YOG start line.
Racing on Lake Jinniu, light winds are predicted across the 11 race series from 18-23 August and for 2014 Byte CII World Champion Odile van Aanholt (NED) it could work out in her favour, “I qualified with heavy breeze but because I’m quite small I think I’m also quite good in lake breeze, I like it better than heavy breeze.”
Across a 13-race series at the 2014 Byte CII Worlds Van Aanholt finished out of the top four once as she convincingly took the title and with a 2013 silver behind her as well she will be a strong shout for the YOG podium, “I qualified at the Worlds in 2013 and then I qualified myself in 2014 at the Worlds. The level was much higher in 2014 because more people sailed Byte and a lot of good people sail it now.
“I think the Hungarian girl Maria Erdi has a good chance and then there are a lot of good Asian sailors who are light and are used to the conditions so they will do good as well.
“I think it’s going to be really exciting and just really cool because it’s Olympic.”
Hungary’s Maria Erdi won gold at the 2013 Byte CII World Championships, the first qualification regatta for the Youth Olympic Games. A year later she walked away with bronze as van Aanholt bridged the gap and pushed ahead on Lake Garda.
Five YOG nation spots were picked up at the 2013 Worlds. Including Erdi and van Aanholt, Bermuda’s Cecilia Wollman, Singapore’s Samantha Yom and the Dominican Republic’s Celeste Lugtmeijer all qualified their nation and themselves and will all do battle again on Lake Jinniu.
Bermuda’s Wollman has had a busy build up to the Youth Olympic Games having made an ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship appearance in the Laser Radial in Tavira, Portugal. The Bermudan came through in 30th and gained valuable experience racing against strong sailors two years older with senior circuit experience under their belts.
As the only Bermudan at the Youth Worlds Wollman is excited to have a full team behind her in Nanjing, “It will be a fun to have a team from Bermuda because I’m all alone here [ISAF Youth Worlds] but it will be really competitive. It’s cool how it’s the Youth Olympics and then you can try to go the Olympics after and you already know how it works.
“It will be weird and it will cool with all the other sports and just not sailing. Sailing is some of the first days so we’ll be going to watch other sports.”
Skills racing in other dinghies can be applied to the Byte, evident in four of the YOG sailors recently racing in the 29er and Laser Radial at the Youth Worlds, and Wollman is going to enjoy racing against some newbies, “The Byte CII features a lot of new people because no one has been sailing them for too long so it’s interesting to see how other people who race different boats now, race the same boat together so it’s going to be different.”
The continental qualification has ensured Byte CII championships in countries such as Australia, Brazil, Italy, Malaysia and the USA. Uruguay’s Dolores Moreira was one of the sailors able to pick up a YOG spot at the South American Championship and it came as a huge surprise to the 15-year-old, “I went to the South American Championship in Brazil and I was third overall and the first female so I was able to qualify my country.
“When I qualified I couldn’t believe it because Uruguay is a small country, we are only three million people, and to be the only female as well, I was speechless. It’s an honour to go [to YOG].
“We were not sure if we were going to go to the Opening or Closing Ceremonies but luckily we are going to be and we’re really excited to see everything and the whole Youth Olympic Games scene.”
Norway’s Caroline Sofia Rosmo was also a benefactor from a continental championship and narrowly booked a spot to China, “In April I went to Garda and I was fifth nation from Europe so I qualified Norway and I was the only one from Norway in the Byte so I qualified.”
With five YOG spots available at the European Championship in Italy the Norwegian took the final spot and she is looking forward to experiencing the sporting and cultural side of Nanjing, “I think it will be light wind and I like light wind so that will be good for me. I don’t know about my results because there are a lot of sailors I haven’t sailed against so I’m going to do my best and see.
“I think it will be a great experience and a lot of fun. The Opening Ceremony will be exciting and it will just be an amazing experience. It will be the motivation for my future in sailing. It’s a start but there’s a long way to the real Olympics.”
The remaining sailors on their way to Nanjing include Nouha El Alia (ALG), Elyse Ainsworth (AUS), Natascha Boddener (BRA), Viktoriya Hinkovska (BUL), Florence Allen (CAY), Karla Savar (CRO), Kelly Gonzalez Dreyer (CHI), Louise Cervera (FRA), Romina De Lulio (ECU), Khouloud Moustafa Mansy (EGY), Alexandra Dahlberg (FIN), Hanna Brant (GBR), Kirana Wardojo (INA), Carolina Albano (ITA), Paula Pelayo (MEX), Nurshazrin BT Mohamad Latif (MAS), Jarian Brandes (PER), Malfada Pires (POR), Megan Robertson (RSA), Kateryna Gumenko (UKR), Nichaporn Panmuean (THA), Abigail Affoo (TTO) and Paige Clarke (ISV).
The Opening Ceremony on Saturday 16 August will officially kick off the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games. The sailing competition begins on 18 August at 11:00 local time and will conclude on 23 August.
The four YOG Sailing events are:
Boy’s Windsurfer – Techno 293
Girl’s Windsurfer – Techno 293
Boy’s One Person Dinghy – Byte CII
Girl’s One Persona Dinghy – Byte CII
The YOG Sailing Competition will consist of an opening series and final race. The format will be fleet racing but slalom racing may be run for the Boy’s and Girl’s Windsurfers if the weather conditions are suitable.