The 2014 Junior World Championship is double the size of 2013 for the 49erFX and 50% bigger than 2013 for the 49er. As such, 46 and 27 teams will be competing to see who is the best U24 team in the Olympic skiff classes. The racing will take place in Aarhus, Denmark, which is quickly becoming a hub for skiff sailing. The 2013 European Championship was raced on these waters and the 2018 ISAF World Championship was recently awarded.
The forecast for the next four days is variable and moderate. Shifty conditions in the middle ranges of windspeed are expected and that should sufficiently challenge the sailors and be a great basis to choose worthy champions. The format for the week is 4 days of fleet racing, with 3 races per day, except for the final day when there will only be 2 races followed by a Theatre Style final for the top 10 in each event. Additionally, the 49er will split into two fleets for qualifying over the first 2 days.
For the first time there are also mixed crews in the 49erFX. 6 teams are taking advantage of this option to sail in either all male crews or mixed male/female crews. These teams will compete alongside the 49erFX female teams for all sections of the regatta except for the Theatre Style final.
There is some world class talent racing in the 49erFX, with two teams from the top 10 globally still racing at the U24 level. Local heroes Ida Nielsen and Marie Olsen are sailing on home waters and won outright the European Championship here almost exactly 1 year ago. Since then they have consistently placed in the top 10 of almost every regatta they have placed in. Just last week they were 5th overall in Kieler Woche and these two will be looking to step on top of the podium once more.
One place ahead of Ida and Marie at last weeks Keiler Woche were Netherland’s 49erFX team of Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz. These to were training partners in 2013 but teamed up in 2014 to sail together. They have been very consistent all year but have yet to win a regatta. This could be there chance to continue the torrid pace they’ve set for themselves.
Two other teams deserving mention in the 49erFX fleet are pairs of sisters. The Gorge sisters from Germany were 13th last week and the Agerup sisters from Norway were 14th overall. So those are the highest ranking teams entering the regatta, but there are a number of other teams ready for the challenge. Junior fleets act a little differently than senior fleets, and often times the top senior teams can have trouble converting their standing with the different fleet dynamics. It will be an interesting online casino regatta to watch.
The 49er championship is wide open, with at least a dozen young teams who could challenge for the win. With 46 entries from 5 continents, it will be a fantastic opportunity for these younger teams to make a name for themselves with their home selectors and global fans. One team who has already started to emerge in 2014 is Spain’s Diego Botin and Pablo Turrado. They placed in the top 5 at both European World Cups in the early part of the season and then have sailed a couple more solid, if not spectacular events since then. The skipper Diego is sporting a new ‘aero’ haircut this week so we’ll see if that helps;)
Another team on the rise is Austria’s Benjamin Bildstein and David Hussl. They have been training with their countrymen Nico and Niko for the past few years and they are on the rise. They were in the top 10 at worlds through qualifying in 2013 and have frequently had great days at events over the past 2 years. So far they have not been able to keep it going for entire events, but this could be their week.
The 2012 Junior World Champions for Great Britain are back for another chance at the title. James Peters and Ed Fitzgerald bust on the scene at the 2012 JWC/EC. In the final race of the semi final they won out in a spectacular downwind passing move and then advanced to the finals where they qualified for the Grand Final, ultimately placing 3rd. The youtube footage from the regatta is still some of the best fleet racing on the web! This week James will be sailing with Sam Batton, as Ed has injured himself.
Another team to highlight before any racing has even started is Sam Bullock and Ben Goodwin of New Zealand. NZ has been dominating 49er & 49erFX sailing for the past couple of seasons, and even though these two are third fiddle back home, that could be enough to contend here globally.
Finally, we have the German contingent of 8 49er teams. This is the largest block of teams and they are very competitive with one another to see who can end up on top.
2014 SEIKO 49er & 49erFX is organised by Sailing Club Bugten and Aarhus Sailing Club in conjunction with Sailing Aarhus, City of Aarhus, Sport Aarhus Events and Sport Event Denmark and is sponsored by SEIKO, Harboe Brewery, Böklunder, Pantaenius, Dinghy Shop Danmark and Key West.