A New Zealand youth sailing team will still be selected in 2020 despite the cancellation of this year's youth sailing world championships in Brazil.
World Sailing last week announced the decision to cancel this year's pinnacle event for youth sailors, which had been due to take place in Salvador in December, due to Covid-19. Next year's edition is due to be held at The Hague in the Netherlands in July 2021.
It is the first time in the event's 50-year history that it has been cancelled and it's part of the reason why Yachting New Zealand have indicated they will still select an NZL Sailing Foundation Youth Team this year. They have also said they are looking to find a meaningful events or opportunities for the selected sailors to take part in.
Youth trials for all youth classes will be held at the Manly Sailing Club on October 7-10 and windfoiling and kitefoiling will also be included.
"It was disappointing but not surprising to learn the youth worlds will be cancelled this year," Yachting New Zealand youth coordinator Sam Mackay said. "I share the disappointment of the athletes, especially those ones who are ageing out this year. It's a big thing to represent your country.
"We feel it's important to recognise the hard work of New Zealand's top youth sailors so will still look to select an NZL Sailing Foundation Youth Team. We are looking into an event they can compete at and have been in discussions with our counterparts in Australia."
New Zealand's borders are presently closed due to Covid-19 but there has been talk of an Australasian bubble being created later in the year which could see some movement across the Tasman.
Most 2020 class world championships have also been cancelled, including the 420, 29er and Laser Radial world championships, but others like the Nacra 15 world championships set for October are merely postponed at this stage.
The paucity of international events will be partially offset by a busier-than-usual domestic schedule. The youth programme calendar has been amended and will kick off again with an Aon national clinic at the Royal Akarana Yacht Club on Queen's Birthday weekend (May 30-June 1).
These clinics and training programmes will take advantage of the fact many of this country's top Olympic class sailors and coaches will also be in the country.
"This year presents a unique opportunity to develop a world-class domestically based sailing programme and involve some of our best sailors and coaches," Mackay said. "While we intend recognising a New Zealand team, we highly value the wider group and squads working together. This is always a key component of our training, but will be highlighted even more this year with the inability to race our international competition.
"We also value life balance, especially throughout the winter season, and encourage athletes to consider participating in other sports, focus on school work or upskill with other sailing classes or opportunities."
See here for more about Yachting New Zealand's youth programme or for more information contact Sam Mackay.
- Pic: Samantha Stock has competed in two youth sailing world championships. Photo: Sailing Energy / World Sailing.