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NZL Sailing Foundation Youth Team named for youth world champs

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There is a familiar - and familial - feeling to the team named for the 2023 youth sailing world championships in Brazil in December.

Familiar because five of the 13-strong team also competed in last year's event, and familial as it includes an unprecedented three sets of siblings.

The NZL Sailing Foundation Youth Team was confirmed on Tuesday, a day after the conclusion of the NZ youth championships at Murrays Bay Sailing Club which doubled as a selection trial for the youth worlds.

Five of the sailors - Nicola Hume, Jack Parr, Aimee Bright, Lucy Leith, and Hugo Wigglesworth - also sailed at last year's youth world champs in The Hague.

Leith is joined by younger brother Joe in this year's squad, which also features Naiomi and Josh Ferrissey, and Sean and Rowan Kensington.

"The youth worlds are a unique event as the format requires sailors to be highly organised and self-sufficient due to the limited support from coaches. To have a decent group of the sailors returning to the team will be a real asset to provide guidance to the new members," said Yachting New Zealand youth and events manager Sam Mackay.

Having three sets of siblings in the same NZL Sailing Foundation Team is a first, he added.

"It's pretty special for the families and it definitely adds an extra connection within the team."


The NZL Sailing Foundation Youth Team has been selected for the 2023 youth world championships in Brazil. 

From left to right: Joe Leith, Josh Ferrissey, Lucy Leith, Sean Kensington, Chloe Turner, Jack Parr, Naiomi Ferrissey, Rowan Kensington, Tessa Clinton, George Pilkington, Nicola Hume, and Aimee Bright. Absent: Hugo Wigglesworth.

Hume, who placed 17th in the girls’ 420 with Daniella Wooldridge at last year’s youth worlds, will be competing with Tessa Clinton in the same class in Armação dos Búzios from December 8 to 16.

Leith will again be in action in the girls 29er, this time with Chloe Turner, after last year finishing 18th with Lizzie Shapland.

Bright and Parr will be hoping to improve on their respective 18th and 29th places from last year when they line up in the girls' and boys' windfoiling fleets; with Wigglesworth among the early favourites in the boys' kitefoil after last year's seventh place. 

While it will be a first appearance at the youth worlds for the Kensington brothers (boys’ 29er), Joe Leith and Josh Ferrissey (boys’ 420), and ILCA 6 duo Naiomi Ferrissey and George Pilkington, most of these sailors have no shortage of international experience.


George Pilkington took out the boys' ILCA 6 title at the NZ youth championships. Photo / Salty Shot Photography

The Kensingtons narrowly missed out on a top-10 place at the 29er world championships in Weymouth in August, while Leith and Ferrissey finished 38th in a 130-boat fleet at the 420 world championships.

Naiomi Ferrissey competed at the 2023 world championships in Dziwnow, Poland in July.

"Many sailors in the team have lofty goals of winning medals at the event and that’s a big focus for the team. Some have already proved that they are capable of winning races on the world stage during the individual class worlds over the winter and will hope to build on their performances," Mackay said.

A weekend-long training camp at Murrays Bay will be a key part of the build-up to the youth worlds.

"It’ll be a big weekend of team building, discussions on performance topics and sailing with input from past Olympic medallists and world champions.

"Sailors will be putting in a lot of time on the water with their class coaches between now and when we leave for Brazil."

Mackay will accompany the team as manager, with Kate Stewart and Markus Somerville the coaches.

The youth sailing world championships is the pinnacle event for youth sailors and runs along similar lines to the Olympics, in which only one entry from each country is selected to compete in each class.

New Zealand has a proud history of success at the youth worlds, having won over 50 medals since the first event in 1971. Past notable winners include Alex Maloney, Blair Tuke, Chris Dickson, Jo Aleh, Russell Coutts, Dean Barker and Stuart Bannatyne.

George Lee Rush and Seb Menzies were the only Kiwi medallists at last year's event, claiming bronze in the boys’ 29er after a dramatic final day of racing.

2023 NZL Sailing Foundation Youth Team:

Boys' ILCA 6: George Pilkington
Girls' ILCA 6: Naiomi Ferrissey
Boys' kitefoil: Hugo Wigglesworth
Girls' 29er: Lucy Leith and Chloe Turner
Boys' 29er: Sean and Rowan Kensington
Boys' 420: Joe Leith and Josh Ferrissey
Girls' 420: Tessa Clinton and Nicola Hume
Girls' windfoil: Aimee Bright
Boys' windfoil: Jack Parr