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Yachting NZ: Youth Team buzzing after three month absence from Youth Worlds

by Michael Brown/Yachting NZ 11 Jul 10:51 NZST 11 July 2022
This is what happy winners look like: George Lee Rush (right) and Sebastian Menzies stayed ahead in the 29er Euro Cup at Kieler Woche © Sascha Klahn / Kieler Woche

There's usually a sense of excitement when the New Zealand team gather for the youth sailing world championships but that was heightened this week for a number of reasons.

Not only is it the first time the NZL Sailing Foundation Youth Team will compete at the youth worlds in three years but a number of the team went into camp on the back of some impressive results.

George Lee Rush and Seb Menzies arrived at The Hague after winning both the 29er fleet at Kiel Week and 29er European championships, Caleb Armit was second in the open ILCA 6 at Kiel and Helena Sanderson joined fresh off helping Live Ocean Racing finish second in the latest round of the ETF 26 Grand Prix series.

"There's a buzz in the team after some good results lately," said Yachting New Zealand youth and events manager Sam Mackay, who is heading up the youth team in the Netherlands. "Now we have the full team together, it feels like everyone is ready to go."

More than 450 sailors from 69 countries have gathered at The Hague for five days of racing across the 11 youth classes. Racing gets underway on Sunday night (NZ time) and a range of wind and wave conditions, including up to 3m swells, are forecast.

For the first time, windfoiling has been included on the programme in a move to reflect the development of foiling at the Olympics. Kitefoiling was added in 2021.

The event is the pinnacle regatta of youth sailing, with a maximum of one representative from each country in each class. New Zealand has won 55 medals since the first youth worlds in 1971, with past notable medal winners Alex Maloney, Blair Tuke, Chris Dickson, Jo Aleh, Russell Coutts and Dean Barker.

Also on that list is Menzies who, together with Blake McGlashan, won gold in the boy's 420 in 2019.

Menzies and Sanderson have previous youth worlds experience, which counts for a lot at big events. Others in the NZL Sailing Foundation Youth Team would have been to one as well had it not been for Covid-19 but, for some, this will be their first taste of international competition.

"It's really exciting to see these new sailors gaining their first experience overseas," Mackay said. "Experience plays a big part at these events so, with more than half of the squad still eligible for the youth worlds next year, it sets them up well for their future sailing.

"For some, this is their last opportunity to compete at a youth worlds and they are really motivated to finish their youth careers on a high."

The New Zealand team, like the rest of the sailors, got their hands on their brand new charter gear for the first time on Friday night before last night's opening ceremony.

2022 NZL Sailing Foundation Youth Team

Boy's ILCA 6 (Laser Radial): Caleb Armit Girl's ILCA 6: Teaghan Denney Girl's 420: Nicola Hume & Dani Wooldridge Boy's 420: Lucas Day & Sam Scott Boy's windfoiling: Jack Parr Girl's windfoiling: Aimee Bright Girl's 29er: Lucy Leith & Lizzie Shapland Boy's 29er: George Lee Rush & Seb Menzies Boy's kitefoiling: Hugo Wigglesworth Nacra 15 Helena Sanderson & Cam McGlashan

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