New Olympic class takes flight at Youth Sailing Worlds

·3-min read
The iQFOiL, which makes its Olympic debut in Paris, was among the headline acts on the opening day of the Allianz World Youth Sailing Championships (Pedro Martinez/World Sailing)
The iQFOiL, which makes its Olympic debut in Paris, was among the headline acts on the opening day of the Allianz World Youth Sailing Championships (Pedro Martinez/World Sailing)

It’s two years till foiling windsurfing makes its Olympic debut in Paris but there was a glimpse of the future in more than one way at the Allianz Youth World Sailing Championships in The Hague.

Light breezes of eight to 11 knots meant a big cardiovascular test for the iQFOiL athletes as they competed in four back-to-back slalom races. While these heats only last seven minutes each, the sprints demand a high level of fitness.

There were two dominant performances in the women’s windsurfer fleet, with Turkey’s Merve Vatan and Israel’s Tamar Steinberg both shining with flawless records.

Rising to the occasion in the men’s fleet were home hope Hidde van der Meer and Great Britain’s Charlie Dixon, who banked three wins and one second place.

“This is my first ever international competition,” said Dixon.

“It felt like an amazing moment to win that first race but at the same I had to remind myself that it is just one race. We have a long way to go.

“Slalom is almost like the 100m sprint of windsurfing. You're pushing the kit to the absolute max and you're really just going for it. It’s fast, it's fun, it's hard work. Doing about 27, 28 knots down the waves, using the waves to get along the reach as quick as you can.”

In the mixed 420 dinghy, Israel’s Roi Levy and Ariel Gal - bronze medallists last year in Oman - started their bid for an update, in challenging tidal conditions.

“We have a good connection together in the boat,” said Gal.

“We were feeling fast, good speed, nice racing.” While some teams might have preferred more breeze, Levy was very happy with the conditions.

“The wind was really good, the current was pretty strong, I really like working with the conditions we had. It’s good competition out there and we love the Youth Worlds.”

Success breeds success, which is why the stronger sailing nations tend to keep on doing well from generation to generation.

The world's best junior sailors have gathered in The Hague, with 12 months till the World Championships take place in the Netherlands (Pedro Martinez/World Sailing)
The world's best junior sailors have gathered in The Hague, with 12 months till the World Championships take place in the Netherlands (Pedro Martinez/World Sailing)

So when Peru’s Florencia Chiarella won gold at the 2021 Youth Worlds in the women’s dinghy, it was a victory the whole sailing world could celebrate.

“This message is to all those emerging nations sailors that consider sailing an essential part of their life as I do,” said Chiarella, a graduate of World Sailing’s Emerging Nations Program.

“Always remember to keep on trying, especially if you fall, again and again; keep focused and never lose hope. If you work hard and believe in your dreams, you never know where the fairy tale can take you.”

To get up to date with the scores from all 11 events at the Youth Worlds, go to http://worldsailingywc.org/

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